After an accident, insurance companies will call and the person on the line may be a very nice man or woman. They might act like your friend and assure you they will do what they can to help you. But make no bones about it, insurance companies make their money by giving you as little as possible after your accident.
For years, may insurance companies would tell accident victims that there is no need to talk to an attorney, knowing that attorneys have years of experience dealing with their tactics and know how to get clients the maximum compensation to which they are entitled.
We want to share some of these tricks with you—whether you decide to consult with an attorney or go about collecting on your own, remember that insurance companies are in business to make money for their owners. They don’t care about you. That adjuster you spoke to just wants to close the file and get you to release all claims.
Here are just some of the tactics you should be aware of when speaking to an insurance adjuster after an accident:
Acting Like a Friend and Making False Promises—As we mentioned, the adjuster may be very friendly and try to chat up a nice conversation. Watch out for the adjuster who befriends you with promises for more than they will deliver—like paying future medical bills, full coverage and a host of benefits that they then find catches for and do not pay. These are tactics to prevent you from hiring a lawyer. Once it is time for payment, if there is not lawyer to fight on your side, they will argue every reason why the benefits they promised shouldn’t be paid, such as:
“The emergency room visit and hospital stay should have been a doctor visit.”
“The injuries were made worse by some fault of the victim.”
“A previous condition is responsible for most of the medical costs.”
Deliberate Delay—Insurance companies know that you are often in a financial squeeze as doctor bills, hospital stays and medication costs add up. This is in addition to lost time you may be forced to take from your job as you recover. The longer they wait to pay out, the more desperate they hope you will be for any settlement. Insurance companies have been known to hold off payments on elderly victims who have eventually died waiting for their claims to be resolved (don’t think for one moment that some insurance companies don’t actually plan this).
Requesting Unnecessary Information—Insurance companies will insist that you track down every little piece of information “before we can evaluate the claim.” They will have you fill out form after form and require you to get independent medical examinations (IMEs) from doctors they have selected—who are often doctors that are willing to over and over again write negative reports about injured clients. They will send requests for further information—even if that information would not add a penny to their offer. They are happy to wait another six weeks for you to track it down. Meanwhile, they are earning interest on the money they are NOT paying you.
Disputing Medical Treatment—Adjusters seem to become medical experts, arguing that you do not need this treatment or that course of action. Despite no medical training, they seem to know just what treatment is right for you! Usually, they “know” that you were over-treated because “our computers say you should have been better by now.”
Nickel and Diming the Medical Charges—They will try to pay out as little as possible. Sometimes this is very little, unless it is properly argues. Think about it. If they shave just 5% off your claim and can do that to the millions of claims made each year, they get richer.
Misrepresenting Insurance Benefits—This is a big one. They tell you there’s only $100,000 coverage. They make no mention of an umbrella insurance policy or a home owners policy that might cover some of the costs of a car accident. When our lawyers come in to help and file suit, the adjusters “magically” find an umbrella policy!
If you choose not to hire a lawyer, it is good to be aware of these tactics and plan your responses. However, I will say that insurance companies will not offer individuals the same compensation they will offer lawyers.
If you want to find out how we can help you, give us a call. There is no charge or obligation. We can sit down with you to discuss your case and let you know the best course of action. We may tell you that you do not need a lawyer and help show you what you should do. Or, for a more serious injury, we can ensure you get the maximum compensation you deserve and, equally important, that you get it as quickly as possible.
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Give us a call at 516-222-4000 or fill out our webform and let us explore your rights and discuss how to get you the maximum compensation you deserve.
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