After you have been involved in a car accident, the other driver’s insurance company will want you to believe that it is on your side from day one. The commercials feature a friendly gecko or tell you they are a good neighbor and will help you out in a time of need.
You should know that these claims are usually far from the truth. Insurance companies will use a lot of different tactics to try to get you to accept the lowest offer possible as quickly as possible.
If you want to know how to deal with an insurance claim to get the most money possible, you need to know common insurance industry tricks. Here is what the insurance industry does not want you to know, no matter what stage of the negotiation.
The Insurance Adjuster will act like your friend.
If you make an insurance claim after an accident, you can expect to get a call from the claims adjuster who represents the insurance company. If you are still waiting to hear from the claims adjuster, you need to know – they are friendly.
The claims adjuster will express concern and ask you how you are doing. Don’t be fooled; kindness is often part of their employee training. They know that they can get more information to use against you by being sympathetic, courteous, and kind.
Adjusters can and will use the information you share with them against you to reduce your settlement offer. Be very cautious about what you say to an insurance adjuster before speaking with a lawyer.
Settling the claim may not be as urgent as it seems
If you’re talking with the insurance company,
- Do you feel like you need to settle fast?
- Are they telling you that the offer is only available for a limited time?
- Do you feel rushed to make a decision?
All of this is by design. While it is true that you can not wait forever to claim damages after a car crash, you have to abide by the statutes of limitations in your state. In both New York and Vermont, you have up to two-three years to file a lawsuit based on a car crash, in most cases.
However, insurance adjusters would have you think that you need to accept an offer within weeks. Generally, they will try to settle the claim as fast as possible; the longer a claim remains open, they will have to keep money set aside to pay you, in what’s called a reserve. That’s money they would like to free up.
Whether your injuries are minor or you have extensive damages and medical costs, do not settle quickly. It is best to speak with a lawyer and get another set of eyes on your case. Many personal injury lawyers will give you an honest assessment of your situation. This point is especially true if you’ve been fighting or plan on fighting the insurance industry on your own. You may be ready to accept their offer but are unsure if it’s all your case is worth. Contact a personal injury lawyer who can give you an assessment and probably move your case further than you could alone.
The settlement offer is low, and they know it.
If the insurance adjuster quickly puts an offer on the table, you can bet that it is a much lower offer than what you are owed. It is probably a lot less, and they know you would rather have money now than fight for the money you’re owed.
If the insurance company has made a lowball offer and you’re trying to fight on your own, you are in an uphill battle.
Insurance companies have an entire team to look for reasons to deny and delay claims like yours every day. Their job is to keep as much of your money in their pockets for as long as possible in the hopes you give up. Remember, insurance companies are among the wealthiest companies in the world. They know denying and delaying claims keeps money in their pockets. Even if they have to bump up the offer throughout the negotiation process, they are earning interest on your money and making a profit on you.
The Insurance Company is Required to Assess Your Claim in Good Faith
The legal doctrine of “Good faith” is complex, but it’s based on a pretty simple notion: people should treat each other reasonably, fairly, and honestly by law. That is how insurance companies are required to assess your insurance claim. If you believe the adjuster is investigating or negotiating your claim in bad faith, they could get in trouble. If the adjuster is found guilty of acting in bad faith, they might even have to pay you (the victim) a lot more money in the form of damages.
Your contract with the insurance company requires it to act in “good faith.” If you’re not moving your case forward with the insurance adjusters on your own, call a lawyer. A personal injury lawyer fights against insurance companies to get you the money you deserve.
They will use what you say against you.
Remember how adjusters will act friendly to get you to make statements? A common insurance adjuster trick is that they plan on using your words against you to deny or reduce how much they offer. Adjusters are trained to look for any signs of “admissions of liability” or “acts inconsistent with” your initial claims.
If you say anything that the defense can construe as contradictory, they will likely use it against you. Even short conversations with insurers can be tricky.
You have an obligation to talk to your own insurance company and cooperate after you’ve made an insurance claim. But t would be best to be wary of speaking openly with the other driver’s insurance company. Find a lawyer to speak on your behalf if you feel that you have a case. Even the smartest people fall into the traps of the insurance industry. Don’t let them trick you out of the money you need.
They Are 100% Capable of Paying You a Lot of Money.
You know that insurance companies exist to make money. You’ve paid your bills faithfully to protect yourself in case of a moment just like the one you are in now. However, insurance companies make a profit by denying and lowballing claims just like yours. Not every car accident claim is worth a million dollars. But, damages associated with the crash and any significant or lifelong injury should be covered by the insurance company, so long as there is coverage.
Unless you are an insurance adjuster or personal injury lawyer, it can be hard to know how much your case is worth. If you settle early, you may not have received all of your medical care and reached your recovery potential. If the outcome of a surgery or treatment plan is not as successful as the doctors initially hoped, you may need to take a new medical direction with future complications. For this reason alone, you should avoid being rushed into accepting the first offer(s) from the insurance company.