FindLaw KnowledgeBasePublished: 2012-05-01
People who have been in a car accident before know how difficult it can be to deal with insurance companies. However, if you are new to the experience, it can be a painful and patience-testing process to get your claim paid.
Despite the warm impression that insurance commercials give of efficient claims processing and willingness to help you out when you’re in a car accident, insurance is in reality a multi-billion dollar business. Like most companies, insurance companies exist to make a profit for their shareholders, so making their policyholders happy is not the main concern of the business.
The insurance claims process is not all gloom and doom—many times claims are paid timely, fairly and in full. Unfortunately, this is not true in the many cases, so it is important to be aware of some of the tactics that your auto insurer may use the next time that you’re in an accident.
The Lowball First Settlement Offer
Insurance companies routinely offer an absurdly low first offer. The reason that they do this is because after an accident, many people feel vulnerable and need money right away and will take the first offer that comes around. If you are injured in the accident, settling a claim quickly is rarely advisable, as you may be unaware of the extent (and the expense of treating) your injuries.
Sometimes instead of making an offer of a quick settlement, insurance companies will attempt to tire you out by delaying the processing of your claim. They may “lose” paperwork that you have submitted, pass your claim between many adjusters or simply not return your calls. Some people, frustrated by the process, will give up pursuing the claim, which is the outcome that the insurer would prefer.
Medical Bill Run-Around
If you are injured during the car accident, insurers may use many tactics to attempt to get out of paying medical bills. They may claim that your injuries were not caused by the accident, but were due to an existing medical condition. Even though some injuries do not develop until some time after the accident, they may also accuse you of exaggerating or even lying about your injuries, if you don’t seek medical attention immediately following the accident.
Recommended Repair Shops
If your car is damaged in the accident, insurers will often promise quick service and prompt payment if you use one of their recommended body shops. What they don’t tell you is that these shops work for them and not for you. These shops will often cut corners on the repairs by using less-expensive replacement parts and may not fully repair your vehicle.
In addition, insurers may attempt to avoid repairing your vehicle altogether by declaring your vehicle totaled. Under most policies, once this has happened, the insurer only has to pay you the fair market value for your vehicle, which is often much less than it would cost to repair it. This often leaves you with little money and an unusable vehicle.
Getting Information From a Baton Rouge Personal Injury Attorney
If you have been involved in car accident, you cannot always count on your insurer to give you a fair offer or look out for your best interests. However, an experienced personal injury attorney can advise you of your rights, help you navigate the claims process and ensure that you get fair compensation from your insurer.