Insurance companies are businesses, and they care about making profits. Sure, your insurance adjuster may be a genuinely nice person, but they are employed to help the insurance company save money. Insurance adjusters have one job, and that is to settle your claim for as little money as they possibly can.
Some unscrupulous insurance companies often delay settling claims, deny seemingly valid claims, deliberately confuse policyholders, and even cancel policies to prevent money from leaving their pockets. A recent study showed that many insurance companies employ these tricks to avoid settling claims.
Keep in mind that insurance companies do not grow by being generous and profit enormously when they pay out as little as possible. Here are a few dirty tricks that insurance companies play in accident claims.
1. Sending overly friendly adjusters
Whenever you are involved in an accident, however minor, the insurance company will send an adjuster your way. The adjuster is trained to have an engaging personality to make you feel more comfortable so you can speak freely.
Unfortunately, this also means that most claimants end up saying things that they are not supposed to say. Some adjusters even encourage you to agree to fast, cheap settlements which more often than not, leave you holding the short end of the stick.
Keep in mind that however friendly your insurance adjuster may be, their job is to save the insurance company as much money as they can. Engage with them seriously and provide only necessary information.
We recommend engaging a personal attorney who can negotiate with the adjuster on your behalf.
2. Offering to settle your claim quickly
Unfortunately, many insurance companies will deploy this trick to capitalize on any short-term post-traumatic distress you may be under as a result of an accident. Immediately after an accident, victims are often confused, scared, or even in pain in case of a major collision.
In some cases, victims may be unable to work which means they cannot settle their hospital bills. Insurance companies prey on your desperation to make you settle quickly. Unfortunately, what might seem like a lot of money at the time is nothing close to fair compensation.
Insurance companies have the statistics and data to set a working estimate for your claim. The adjuster is graded against the estimated figure with the challenge to get you to settle for substantially less.
Settling your case too quickly also means you are left unshielded in case of long-term consequences. In some cases, medical treatment, loss of wages due to inability to work, or pain and suffering are usually unknown at the time of the accident.
However, the insurance company has most likely handled many cases similar to yours. They usually have an idea of the minimum value of your claim and get you to settle quickly saving them money in the long run.
Hiring a personal injury lawyer can protect you from unscrupulous adjusters and help you resolve your claim for a fair amount.
3. Delaying or Denying your claim
Another dirty trick insurance companies play in insurance claims is delaying claims to take advantage of your vulnerability. Insurance companies delay your claims until you get overwhelmed with fear or anxiety so that you are willing to accept any offer made.
Some insurance companies also deny your claim despite having collected all the evidence including police reports, photographs and videos, medical records, and wage loss information. In this case, the insurance company will sometimes offer a ridiculously low amount as a settlement.
Remember, if you accept this low offer, the case may be settled for good and you will have to pay for any further damages from your own pocket.
Engage a personal injury lawyer to ensure that the complexities of your case are handled properly and to challenge any denial of your claim.
4. Disputing medical records
Insurance companies are also known to claim that you are not seriously injured or hurt to lower your claim. Some even claim that you delayed treatment or got far more medical care than you needed for ‘minor’ injuries.
It is not uncommon for adjusters to try and convince victims of an accident to stop getting treatment by threatening that the insurance company will not pay for medical bills. However, in court, they turn it around and claim that you stopped treatment on your own.
This proves their point that you were not badly injured so they can adjust your claim and settle for less.
5. Using language and fine print to confuse policyholders
Insurance policies are riddled with ambiguous language and fine print which can be confusing to policyholders.
It is not uncommon to find adjusters and other insurance personnel who do not understand the policy terms themselves. Some insurance companies will use these confusing terms to deny your claim or settle for less.
However, a personal injury attorney can read and translate the policy terms. This also helps your case if you need to contest the settlement.
6. Trying to get an admission using your words
As earlier discussed, most insurance companies will send an overly friendly adjuster your way immediately after an accident. However, the friendly adjuster is trained to listen carefully and even ask questions that can lead to the admission of fault.
Small details such as admission that you do not remember the exact speed at the time of the accident, your car had a mechanical fault, or you forgot to adjust the seat belt are noted and later used to deny or lower the value of your claim.
While you are legally obligated to cooperate and provide your insurer with information about the collision, it is important to remember that it is still an adversarial relationship.
The insurance company is trying to pay you the least amount possible, while you are trying to collect as much as you can to cover any expenses caused by the accident.
Engaging a personal injury attorney ensures that you have all the evidence you need and protects you from making any contradictory statements.
The insurance adjuster is employed to challenge your credibility as a witness so any minor inconsistencies may result in the insurance company denying your claim.
7. Asking for recorded statements
In case of a car accident, the insurance company will usually get the police report as soon as it is available. With the information on the police report, your adjuster may ask for a recorded statement to compare your account of events.
Any minor slip-ups may end up in your claim getting denied. Hiring a personal injury attorney protects you from such tricks.
8. Hiring private investigators
In an attempt to deny or delay your claim, some insurers hire private investigators to spy on you and taint your credibility. These investigators watch your every move and even go through your social media pages to find out any information you share about the accident.
You should not talk about an ongoing case with anyone apart from your attorney as the private investigators will try to talk to your family and friends to get as much information as they can.
9. Requesting too much information
Some insurance companies will ask you for too much information. They will ask for more information than is necessary to evaluate your claim to further delay your claim.
It is important to remember that insurance companies invest the money that policyholders pay in different businesses. This means that while your claim is delayed, your premiums are working hard for the insurance company making them more money.
How to avoid it?
Even if the fault is clear, some insurance companies will drag the case for weeks or even months and refuse to make a fair settlement. There are even some cases where insurance adjusters take advantage of a lack of communication and send you a check to settle your claim for a minimal amount.
Adjusters are also aware that there is a statute of limitations on your claim and can wait you out by causing unnecessary delays. Speak to a personal injury attorney to learn how you can avoid the dirty tricks insurance companies employ to avoid settling your claim fairly.