Top 7 secrets insurance companies do not want you to know about Car Accident Claims
If you have ever tried to negotiate a car accident settlement with an insurance company then you will know how frustrating the process is. Insurance adjusters are paid negotiators who handle car wreck settlements on a daily basis. An insurance adjuster’s goal is to settle claims as quickly as possible and at the lowest monetary value; however they have no problem dragging out the settlement process when it benefits the insurance company. In order to accomplish their task, they know that it some times pays to delay claims to frustrate the accident victim.
In our 25 years, here are the insurance defense tactics we see most.
1. The Adjuster is Not Your Friend
It seems easy, however many unrepresented claimants succumb to this strategy, utilized frequently by insurance companies. Insurance adjusters typically approach you in the friendliest fashion when attempting to discuss your claim. They attempt to “befriend” you and develop a connection that will make negotiations more effective for the insurance adjuster as well as the insurance company. The adjuster may ask you about your family or other personal concerns that are unassociated to the case. Adjusters do this to make you think they are on your side, encouraging you to let your guard down and hoping to develop trust with you. Obviously insurance insurer will not tell you that their only interest is negotiating your case for the least dollar amount possible. You will quickly identify just what his objectives were when they pull the carpet out from beneath with a strikingly low offer. Don’t feel too bad when this happens to you, as it happens all the time.
2. Insurance Companies are required to Negotiate In Good Faith
The law requires that insurance adjusters act in good faith when negotiating a settlement. Yes, that may be technically accurate but “good faith” as far as the insurance company is concerned is a wide ranging and grey area term. So the insurance company is in business to make money. They have stock holders that they have to answer to, thus their main goal is to take your money and not have to pay out. If they do have to pay it out, their goal is to pay out the least amount possible. Looking at a claim through that framework, the adjuster will try to befriend you and sound interested in your injuries but if you understand their sole goal to close the case for the least amount of money possible, then negotiating in goo faith takes on a new meaning. It means to them to try to stay within the bounds of the law (although some adjusters don’t really care) but at the same time to minimize the amount they have to pay out. Sometimes the adjuster may have a legitimate difference of opinion as to what injury occurred, or if the injury is truly related to the accident, or if the injury is as bad as claimed. Whether their concern is “legitimate” or not, these concerns are always raised in order to lower the compensation paid. There are many ways adjusters and insurance companies have to effectuate their evil goals, but for now it is important to understand that “negotiating in good faith” has very little meaning.
3. Recording of conversations and statements regarding the accident and your injuries. Just say NO!
The law in most states is that you must be told if your conversation is being recorded. If the insurance company fails to advise you of this fact, then they would be committing a crime and any statement you say would not be admissible in court. Most insurance companies and adjusters will not take a risk of committing a crime. However, what they will do is have all calls start with “this call may be recorded for quality service” or some benign statement like that. We don’t pay much attention to those statements any more but you must be careful because once that statement is played they can record. Many times adjusters don’t even fool around, they will just come right out and say they want to take a recorded statement. This is not something you should do without the direct assistance of counsel. They record these statement, get you to say something you did not mean to say and boom, they have something serious to use against you in court. Recorded statements are not required to give to the other side and in fact you should not do so. Just say No, until you have a qualified lawyer to assist you.
4. A Claims Adjuster Is Willing To Negotiate And Settle a Claim, but their first offer is never their best or final (despite what they say).
Claims adjusters do want to settle claims. They have quotas and must move cases on a monthly basis so they don’t have a backlog of cases. Also, they do not want all their cases going to court because then the insurance company will incur additional expense for lawyers and litigation expenses. Therefore, adjusters do prefer to settle claims. At the same time, they receive bonuses and increases based upon how well they did saving the insurance company money (read that to mean how successfully they have screwed victims of accidents). Their goal remains to settle a claim at the lowest dollar value possible. To that end, settlement is always possible and some of their tricks are saying that their first offer is their best offer. It is not! It’s like a batter taking the first strike after several balls are thrown. You just let it go, there is more. They love to negotiate, they have rules of negotiating. They can’t give you their best out of the gate. They can only increase so much on any one day. And when they say it’s their best, its probably not. However, you will need a lawyer to get the best because without a lawyer, you are not a threat to the insurance company and therefore their best may not be forthcoming until you do have a lawyer.
5. Insurance may admit fault for an accident (only when liability is crystal clear), but that does not mean they will adequately compensate for the injuries.
Obtaining fair and appropriate compensation for your injuries is totally different then getting insurance to take responsibility. Indeed accepting responsibility is a predicate matter to recovering money and if the insurance company can find a way out of paying because of liability, they will deny the claim and make you prove it in court. However, even if they do accept liability, that means very little. The more serious the injuries are the more they will fight on fair compensation because it violates the rule of paying the least amount of money possible. On bigger cases, that means big money. This is where their b.s. delay tactics come into play in terms of fighting claims. They know that if they delay enough, most folks get tired of waiting and will fold. Many times, injured victims may need money and will settle their claim short at that point in time. Adjusters are aware of this and sometimes stretch things out for that reason. It is important to know their tactics in order to avoid them.
6. Suggesting that you do not need a lawyer.
Insurance companies are not fond of lawyers getting involved in cases. They know lawyers cannot be pushed around and they will have to pay more money out for the claim because a lawyer is involved. This is why they sometimes accept liability early on to show how “reasonable” they are being and to foster a false sense of security with the victim. However, that will not last when the first offer is made. When the lawyers get involved, it means the adjuster will have to 1) hire an attorney to defend the claim and 2) pay more to the injury victim. The adjuster’s salary and compensation could well be tied to how much they pay on claims, so they want to limit the amount of compensation paid. The tactic of befriending the injured victim is effective here because the victim thinks they don’t need a lawyer, may start talking freely with the adjuster and most likely will say things against their own interest. This can have a very serious adverse effect on settlement negotiations and trial so don’t fall prey to this tactic.
7. The Auto Insurance Company Wants your past Medical Records
“We need your prior medical records in order to properly evaluate your claim and make an offer.” B.s., they do not! Moreover, their intent is not to make fair claim but to see how they can lower they money they are required to pay you. They want your medical records so they can find “preexisting” injuries which they will then attempt to use to lower their offer to you in settlement or in court. If you injured your neck in this accident and they see 3 years ago you saw your doctor for an injured neck, they way, “see, we did not cause this” you already had this problem and we are not paying you. You might even believe that if you hear it enough. It’s total b.s., in fact, they may be on the hook for more money because they made a condition worse. Say for example you had a bad eye. You could see out of it but it was not clear. Then in an accident you were blinded in that eye. In this instance you had a preexisting condition to your eye, but they took a bad situation and made it even worse by blinding they eye. It is important to recognize this tactic and to only give the insurance company what they entitled to, which are the medical records from this accident. In litigation they may be entitled to more but for now they only get what they get. A lawyer can you determine what they should get.
8. Bonus Tip: Just because insurance says a particular medical treatment/modality was not needed, does not mean they are off the hook for payment.
Another famous tactic they use it to discount your bills or treatment. After you submit your medical bills and reports for payment, they love to say that the bills are too much and that some of the treatment was not necessary. Just because they say the treatment was not necessary, does not mean anything. It’s what your doctors say is necessary. If you doctor ordered the treatment, therapy what have you and you relied on their orders, then insurance can take forget their silly discounts, unless they have an MD degree. Also they like to discount bills by saying they are too high. The bill is the bill, the jury will look at it that way. So if insurance refuses to pay your bills or treatment, too bad for them. Tell em “See you in court”. They will change their mind, especially when you get a good qualified lawyer involved.
If you find yourself in any of these positions, give Bruce Robinson & Associates a call, we will be glad to help you 410-484-1111. If you suffered a serious or catastrophic injury, get us involved as early as possible in order to avoid the mistakes herein that can effect the outcome of you personal injury case.