Insurance Company Settlement Tactics
If you have been the victim of an accident, you have the right to require compensation for the injuries you sustained, and not be a victim of an insurance company’s settlement tactics.
While this should be a straightforward process, we have found that in most of the cases, insurance companies use a variety of settlement tactics to get victims of accidents to settle for lower or mediocre settlements.
Trying to get the money you deserve from an insurance company can be an incredibly stressful process. We discuss what settlement tactics insurance companies use to deny and devalue claims so you know what you’re up against and how a personal injury lawyer, at the Moore Law Firm, can be of help.
Contacting you very soon after sustaining an injury
Insurance companies generally do this for multiple reasons, but the common denominator is to catch you off guard. By calling you immediately after an accident, insurance companies want to make sure you’re in a vulnerable spot, perhaps before you’ve had time to determine the full extent of your injuries, and most importantly, before you’ve had an opportunity to talk to a lawyer.
Asking you to give a recorded statement
Asking for a recorded statement may seem pretty innocent — after all, the insurance company needs to hear your side of the story. But the truth is insurance companies don’t use these recorded statements as a tool to help them offer fair compensation to victims.
Instead, they use the recorded statements to get information that they can use against you later, mostly to deny and devalue your claim. For example, they may use information you gave them about your injuries that might not be accurate at the time because you hadn’t had the chance to be examined by a doctor yet.
If you only mention a back injury, they can later say that you must not have suffered a neck injury because you didn’t say anything about that on your recorded statement.
Delaying the claims process
Intentional delays in the claiming process are very common because insurance companies hope to break your patience and make you accept whatever settlement offer they extend. Delay tactics may include unnecessarily long times to respond to an initial claim or simply taking weeks or months to investigate your accident.
If this happens, it’s important not to lose patience. Check with the insurance adjuster to try to get them move the process along, and never accept a low offer out of desperation. The main reason insurance companies employ delaying tactics is because they know you have a strong claim.
Requesting a medical release
Another tactic employed by insurance companies is asking an injury victim to sign a medical release that’s unlimited in time and scope. The reason behind doing this is to obtain a host of information about you and obtain your medical records from any medical provider you may have seem before and after the collision.
By doing this, the insurance company may try to find any evidence of prior injuries that were not related to the collision. They will then use this information to prove that you had those injuries and pain before the accident. You should always politely decline to sign a medical authorization waiver.
Offering a quick settlement in return for a release of your claim
After an accident, it’s understandable that you’re vulnerable and you may be tempted to accept any amount of money for settlement of a claim. Insurance companies may push you to settle very soon after a collision, before you’ve had a chance to see a doctor or get any treatment.
If the insurance company decides to employ this tactic, it will want you to sign a full release, which means that you won’t be able to pursue them for any of your injuries again in the future. It’s never recommended you ever sign such as statement, as you won’t be able to pursue anything even if you receive more medical treatment or your injuries get worse.
Denying liability, partially or completely
A very common tactic used by insurance companies to make you settle is denying liability on the claim altogether. A common argument is that you couldn’t possibly have been injured as a result of what happened even though a collision is the fault of its insured.
The insurance company might also deny liability by saying you were partially at fault, whether that was true or not. If there is any room to argue that you were partially at fault for an accident, insurance companies are almost sure going to try to deny liability, hoping that witnesses will disappear.
Disputing your medical bills
Another tactic employed by insurance companies is disputing a part of your medical bill or even the entire sum. They will attempt to devalue your claim by arguing that you received treatment that was unreasonable, or that you were treated for too long.
Insurance adjusters may also try to convince you to stop treatment at a certain point, arguing that the insurance company is not going to pay for the entire cost. If you take the bait and actually stop treatment, they may try to use that against you, arguing that you were making it up, or you must have not been really injured.
Besides disputing the medical bills, insurance companies may also misrepresent the amount of insurance coverage available for your claim, in another attempt to lower the amount they are required to pay. They are likely to say that there’s only a certain amount available to be paid on a claim, which might not be entirely accurate.
You should always keep in mind that insurance companies employ these tactics to save money and pay out less on a claim. They will try to get away it because in the end, you’re just a number on a computer system for them.
If you were injured because of someone else’s negligence, you should always consult with a personal injury lawyer to make sure your rights are protected and get the compensation you deserve for your injuries.