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Is the Insurance Company Avoiding Paying Your Claim?
We often receive questions from clients about how to tell when an insurer is trying to avoid paying a claim or taking actions that could lead to a smaller claim payout. Here are a few of the most important things that might be warning signs of an insurer trying to not pay a claim or looking for a way to reduce the amount to be paid.
If you’ve encountered one or more of these tactics and you don’t already have an attorney to help you, it’s time to think about bringing one in on your case.
Not So Fast: Don’t Settle Too Quickly
Has an insurance adjuster offered to settle your claim quickly? That might seem like a good thing for you, especially when you need to pay for your injuries or property damage. But “not so fast” is very good advice. When an insurer is willing to settle quickly, it’s possible that the company realizes your claim is solid and involves a substantial dollar amount.
When a settlement offer is made swiftly, in any amount, it’s often an attempt to put a case to rest before the claimant can determine the true extent of his or her injuries and expenses. An insurer might try to get you to agree to a settlement before you can talk to a lawyer because it knows an experienced personal injury attorney will pursue your case vigorously and win a larger amount.
Getting the Runaround: Difficulty with Adjusters
Having trouble getting your calls returned, getting a straight answer, or getting something in writing? Has an adjuster refused to give you basic policy information, shown up to visit you unannounced, or tried to pressure you to sign something that gives him or her access to your medical records?
Delay and avoidance tactics are common, as are actions designed to put a claimant under pressure. Adjusters use so many of them that it’s hard to list them all here: They bump calls to voicemail, don’t return calls, don’t respond to emails, claim to be on vacation, or transfer your case to another adjuster.
They’ll say you need to sign a medical release, tell you you’ll have to submit to an examination by their doctor, show up at your home or workplace without scheduling an appointment, or tell you not to discuss your case with a lawyer because it will delay a settlement.
They’re not doing any of this for your benefit, and the sooner you get help on your side, in the form of a capable and knowledgeable attorney, the better.
Paperwork? What Paperwork?
It’s surprising how many “errors” creep into the documentation used for every part of the claims process. And yet these errors are never in the claimant’s favor: Details about the crash are wrong, personal details about the claimant (that’s you!) are wrong, bills go missing, or amounts suddenly change.
It’s vital to make sure that every “t” is crossed and every “i” dotted—and not just once, but every time. Your own paperwork is just as important as theirs: They might be reluctant to correct their errors, but they’ll make it very difficult for you to correct yours and might even use them as another way to attempt to pressure you into a reduced settlement.
Don’t forget that insurance companies are not in business to lose money. They’re here to make money, and they do this most effectively by paying out as little in claims as they can get away with.
This has been enough of a problem in the past that nearly every state has taken action in the form of Unfair Claims Settlement Practices Acts, which protect consumers from the worst abuses (only a few of which we’ve covered here).
Milwaukee Car Accident Lawyer
We’d like to be able to tell our clients that insurance companies always do the right thing—that they pay claims quickly, with no attempts to lowball legitimate claims or to find ways to blame victims for their injuries. But, unfortunately, we know that’s not true. Some companies make resolving claims more difficult than it needs to be, even for their own customers.
Don’t take our word for it: The American Association for Justice recently included many of the issues above in a report critical of insurance industry practices. General criticism has been aimed at the industry by academics, and a recent suit against an insurer succeeded in part on the grounds that the insurer was using some of these tactics to put profits over customer safety.
When you’ve been injured in a crash, you need an experienced Milwaukee car accident lawyer. The team at the Law Offices of Gary S. Greenberg has helped hundreds of clients reach favorable settlements, and we offer a free consultation to every new client. Call us at 414-271-7007 or reach out via the contact form below to schedule your consultation today.