If you’re the victim of an accident resulting from another person’s negligence, you have much more to deal with than recovering from your injuries. You will also need to interact with an insurance company during the claim-handling process.
Despite the caring image insurers attempt to project through their advertising and branding initiatives, you should not expect them to be your friend. Their goal is to minimize your claim payout and keep more money for themselves.
Tactics Insurers Use to Devalue Claims
Insurers go to great lengths to reduce their payout amounts. Six of the more common insurance tactics to devalue a personal injury claim include the following.
1. Trying to Catch You Off Guard
You likely won’t be in the best frame of mind after an accident. You may be experiencing pain from your injuries and worried about what happens next. Insurance companies know this and will attempt to take advantage of your vulnerability. They may contact you shortly after the accident and gently coerce you into making decisions that favor them — but that you’ll regret.
2. Downplaying Your Injuries
Some people avoid going to the emergency room or seeking medical treatment after an accident, especially if they feel fine. But the effects of injuries are often delayed — the onset of whiplash after a rear-end auto accident is just one example. Insurance companies can use these situations as an excuse to minimize the extent of your injuries and reduce your payout. The best practice is to see a doctor as soon as possible after an accident.
3. Offering a Quick Settlement
Another favorite tactic insurers use to devalue personal injury claims is dangling what may appear to be a generous amount of money in front of an accident victim. The offer typically occurs right after the accident when you are most vulnerable. However, you can often receive a larger settlement when you have an experienced personal injury attorney negotiate with the insurer on your behalf.
4. Denying Liability
An insurer might attempt to show that you were fully or partially responsible for the accident, even if the facts tell a different story. The company may use this method to reduce the payout or even deny your claim, hoping you’ll feel intimidated and give up. A personal injury attorney knows how to thwart this tactic and seek the compensation you deserve.
5. Using Your Words Against You
The insurance company’s claims adjuster may ask you to provide a recorded statement of your version of the incident, ostensibly to gather the facts. In reality, the adjuster is trying to get information that the insurer can use against you to reduce or deny your claim. You should never speak to an adjuster or any other insurance company employee or representative until you have conferred with a personal injury attorney.
6. Implementing Delay Tactics
A severe injury can have significant financial consequences. You may not be able to return to work and the medical bills accumulate quickly. Insurance companies might try to take advantage of your situation by drawing out the claims settlement process for as long as possible. They hope that desperation will cause you to accept a lowball offer, or the stress and frustration will lead you to give up. A personal injury lawyer can intercede and speed up the process.