As an injured victim of an accident, you are at risk of being taken advantage of during the personal injury claims process. Insurance companies – including your own insurance provider – do not want what is best for you. They will prioritize their own profitability and bottom lines over your wellbeing and financial recovery. It is important to know what to expect from insurance companies during your claim, so that you can protect your rights.
Insurance Representatives May Attempt to Shift Blame
Insurance companies will try many different tactics to avoid having to pay for your injuries and losses after an accident. If you get injured in a car crash, for example, the insurance company that receives your claim may try to shift blame for the collision away from its policyholder and onto you. It may attempt to do this using a police report or eyewitness statements, as well as experts and investigators hired by the insurance company.
Reduce the odds of this being an issue by never admitting fault for your accident to anyone. This includes the other party involved in the accident, the police or authorities, and any representative or agent working for the insurance company. Even if insurance representatives phrase their questions to make it seem like they have proof that you are to blame, do not admit fault or accept the blame. Instead, consult with an attorney for assistance negotiating with the insurance provider. This may be a tactic the insurer is using to wrongfully deny coverage.
Should I Send a Demand Letter?
Insurance company representatives often try to convince or pressure policyholders to settle for lower amounts than they may be eligible to receive at a later date. They do this by using phrases such as “This is the best or final offer.” They may also encourage accepting a diminished value early on in the case by contacting you before you fully understand the full extent of your injuries and the medical treatment required.
If you believe an insurance company is doing this in your personal injury claim, consider sending a demand letter. A demand letter is your opportunity to state your side of the case and give an amount you are willing to accept for your injuries and losses. The demand letter succinctly describes the accident, explains why the insurance company is liable and spells out your requests as the plaintiff.
Upon sending your demand letter, settlement negotiations with the insurance company will begin at the number you and your personal injury attorney believe to be fair. From there, your attorney can submit a counteroffer and negotiate with the insurance provider until coming to a fair settlement.
Do I Have to Make a Statement to an Insurance Representative?
No law requires you to make a recorded statement to an insurance representative. It is typically in your best interest not to do so. Do not let scare tactics pressure you into saying yes, such as the insurance adjuster telling you that he or she cannot process your claim without a recorded statement. Be polite but affirmative in saying no to the request.
The recorded statement is a tactic insurance representatives use to obtain information from you they can use against you during your case. If you underestimate your injuries in the recorded statement because it is still early in your medical treatment, for example, the insurer could use this statement as a reason to diminish the value of your claim later.
Rather than giving a recorded statement over the phone when it is still too early for you to fully understand the details of your personal injury claim, contact an attorney to help you draft a written statement to send to the insurance company. Submitting a written statement will give you the time to carefully phrase your statement in a way that will not hurt your claim or diminish its value. A lawyer can protect you from all tactics an insurance company may use during your personal injury case.