Insurance companies report annual profits of more than $30 billion!
Their CEOs are paid higher salaries than CEOs of any other industry. Substantial profits and high salaries are not the result of insurers eagerly, fairly and promptly settling claims. The reverse is true. They deny liability, reluctantly make low-ball settlement offers or delay for as long as possible acting on claims.
10 Insurance Company Tricks to Watch Out For After an Accident
Adjusters are not your friend!
This may be the most important thing to keep in mind during every encounter or exchange you have.
No matter how caring and concerned adjusters may appear, do not lose sight of the fact that they work for the insurer.
They do not work for you. Their mission is to save their boss some money, not give you any of it. Their future with the insurance company depends on how successfully they are at denying or minimizing claims. They do not get promoted by maximizing an injured person’s benefits.
Adjusters want you to record a statement about the accident
Shortly after your injury, an adjuster will call and imply that the law requires you to tell them your version of what happened. They will ask your permission to record your statement. First, politely refuse to give a statement without your attorney present, and particularly refuse permission for the adjuster to record your conversation.
Whatever you say, you can be sure the adjuster will find a way to use it against you.
Enticing you to admit some fault for the accident
A major reason for not giving a statement is that your words can be twisted. A polite statement of regret that an accident happened, for example saying simply,
“I am sorry about the accident,”
can be turned into an admission of fault.
Adjusters try to talk you out of hiring an attorney
Adjusters do not want you to have an attorney and will suggest you should not need to share a percentage of your settlement with a lawyer. What they do not tell you is that, according to statistics, injured people who have an attorney end up with more money in their own pocket than when they settle directly with the insurance company.
Personal injury attorneys are not only skilled negotiators, they know to have your injuries evaluated and to estimate the extent of the damages you have suffered.
Asking you to release all your medical records to the insurer
You may at first think this is reasonable. You may assume they want to see how much you have suffered so they can give you a fair settlement, but you would be wrong.
They want to find something, perhaps a pre-existing medical condition, which will allow them to either deny, or at least minimize, your claim for damages.
Offering you some money if you will sign a release
While your medical bills are piling up and you are losing wages because you cannot work, you may be tempted to take the money an adjuster offers you. The offer comes with the requirement to sign a release, which means even if you are still suffering in the future and incurring new medical expenses due to the injury, you give up your right to sue or ask for more money. Some injuries, like soft tissue injuries or brain injuries for example, do not show up right away.
You could sign away your right to collect damages before you even know what those damages are.
Delaying action on your claim
As one insurance regulator has stated,
insurance companies do not make money when they pay claims.
They think if they ignore you, you will either go away, accept a low settlement, or die. When you call for a status update, you may be told your adjuster will call you back. The call never comes. Or, when it does, you find out your paperwork is “still being processed.” This issue is one an attorney can deal with on your behalf.
Secretly spying on you
It is common for insurers to hire investigators to follow you around and try to video you doing an activity that is inconsistent with your claimed injury. One man who claimed a severe back injury was shown to be rock-climbing on a video. Of course his claim was denied.
This makes it imperative that you be scrupulously honest about your injuries and not claim to have limitations you really do not have.
Minimizing your injuries
Adjusters may try to step into the shoes of your medical doctor and say that some of the treatment you received was unnecessary and they will not approve it. Insurance adjusters are not the ones to be making decisions on your medical care. Medical experts know how to evaluate your injury, determine the care and treatment you need now and possibly in the future, and predict whether you will need any rehabilitation.
Making decisions on appropriate medical care is your doctor's job. Not the job of your adjuster.
Claiming their insured is not liable for the accident
Even if you do not admit fault, insurers can avoid paying a claim if they can place the fault on anyone other than their insured.
They may say you were totally or partially at fault.
They may even say it was the fault of a third party.
Insurers are driven to increase their profits. In that vein, some of them give bonuses to adjusters who successfully and consistently deny claims. Adjusters who pay too many claims may find themselves without a job. Unfortunately, claims adjusters are trained to act like your friend. They may lure you into trusting them so that you make a statement that is not in your best interest. If you are alert and know what to watch for, you can avoid falling into the trap and jeopardizing your ability to collect all the damages to which you are legally entitled.