As an accident victim, you have the right to demand compensation from the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Unfortunately, insurance companies don’t want to pay you the money you deserve after your car accident. They want to protect their profits at all costs. As a result, many companies rely on settlement tactics that are designed to drive down the value of your payout.
Our attorneys have been negotiating with insurance companies across San Diego for more than 14 years. We’ve drawn on our experience to help you know what you look for when negotiating your personal injury claim. You can maximize your recovery if you know which tactics insurance companies use most.
- 1 Why Insurance Companies Use Settlement Tactics
- 2 Settlement Tactics Used By Insurers in San Diego
- 2.1 Intentionally Delaying the Claims Process
- 2.2 Denying Your Claim Without Cause
- 2.3 Asking You to Provide a Recorded Statement
- 2.4 Requesting a Medical Authorization Waiver
- 2.5 Intentionally Undervaluing Your Injuries
- 2.6 Contacting You Soon After Your Accident
- 2.7 Scaring You Into Accepting An Offer Because You Share Fault
- 3 Need More Help?
Why Insurance Companies Use Settlement Tactics
The truth is that car insurance companies are most interested in protecting their profits. While they do have an obligation to handle insurance claims in good faith, they will do whatever they can to reduce any payouts they make. Over the years, insurance companies have developed certain settlement tactics that aren’t necessarily in bad faith, but aren’t really honest, either. These tactics can:
- Manipulate your emotions and stress following an accident
- Test your patience
- Misrepresent the law and your rights, and
- Trick you into accepting a lowball offer.
Settlement Tactics Used By Insurers in San Diego
Intentionally Delaying the Claims Process
An accident can really make your life difficult. You may have mounting bills and feel stress from lost wages. Getting a payout soon after your accident can make a world of difference.
Insurance companies will try to test your patience by intentionally delaying the claims process. They may wait an unnecessarily long time to respond to your initial claim, take a long time to investigate your accident, or shuffle paperwork around the office to extend the claims process. They hope that with each passing day you’ll become more desperate and be eager to accept whatever settlement offer they extend.
Solution: Be confident and patient. Don’t let the insurance company take advantage of any financial stress that you may be experiencing. The company may be delaying because they know you have a strong claim. They want you to give up and accept a low offer. Check in with the adjuster frequently and try to get them to move the process along. You’ll be happy you waited and fought for the amount you deserved.
Denying Your Claim Without Cause
Insurance companies have an obligation to act in good faith. This means that they have to handle claims honestly and with good intentions. If their investigation finds that you have a valid claim, they’re required to extend an offer.
Unfortunately, some companies engage in bad faith tactics. One common approach is to simply a deny a claim when it is received. Insurers hope that you will be discouraged and abandon your effort to recover compensation.
Solution: Ask the insurance company to provide legitimate justification(s) for the denial. If the claim wasn’t properly investigated, the company will have a difficult time coming up with a valid reason. If you have found that the insurer has acted in bad faith you have the right to file a personal injury lawsuit for damages.
Asking You to Provide a Recorded Statement
Insurance companies may ask you to provide a recorded statement after the accident. This may seem like a good way to get the information they need about the accident. However, it’s important to keep in mind that the insurer’s investigation is focused on finding reasons to deny or undervalue your claim. They want you to record a statement so that they can find discrepancies in your story. Poking holes in your allegations can allow them to reduce the compensation you get.
Solution: Never agree to provide a recorded or written statement unless you’ve been given the green light by an attorney. Your attorney will make sure that your rights are protected and that you’re not being led into a trap.
Requesting a Medical Authorization Waiver
If you’ve been injured there are probably medical reports that are relevant to your claim. The insurance company will certainly want copies. However, they can’t just walk into a hospital and request a patient’s records. They’d need a waiver signed by you. You may think that signing a waiver is no big deal. They’re just going to get the records that are relevant to your case, right? Wrong.
Companies will try to get you to sign a blank medical authorization. This can give them access to most of your private records. They’ll use these records to find information about prior injuries and surgeries, medication history, and more. That information can then be used to contest claims you’ve made about fault and pain.
Solution: Don’t sign anything unless an attorney says it is okay. Or, make sure that the waiver you sign is limited in scope. Never sign a blank waiver that can be used for a variety of things.
Intentionally Undervaluing Your Injuries
When you draft your demand letter, you will ask the insurance company to pay you a specific amount of money. The figure you’ve calculated is based on your actual costs, projected costs, and pain and suffering. It’s probably a fairly accurate representation of your actual damages. Insurance companies don’t want to pay this amount.
Instead, companies will undervalue your claim. They’ll fight you tooth and nail on every expense, argue that many are not necessary, and even deny liability for some. Companies today use a computer program that is designed to assess the value of your claim. You can be sure that these programs are designed to minimize an insurer’s costs.
Solution: Supplement your demand letter with verifiable and reliable evidence. Provide medical assessment, hospital bills, pay stubs (both before and after the accident), and anything else that can support your case. The more evidence you have to support your position, the better your chances of getting the money you deserve.
Contacting You Soon After Your Accident
You may be surprised to learn that insurers may contact you with an offer almost immediately after receiving your claim. Why would they contact you if one of their strategies is to delay the process? There are a few reasons you may get an early offer:
- The insurer knows that you have a very strong case and wants you to accept a low offer.
- The insurer thinks that they can take advantage of your emotions and convince you to accept a low offer.
- The insurer thinks your case may be time-consuming and wants it to go away quietly.
While an insurer may contact you early on in the process with a fair offer, this isn’t typically the case. Early offers will probably be very low. Most will not be sufficient to cover your costs.
Solution: Resist the urge to accept an early offer. It’s important to know that accepting an early offer could do more harm than good. Why? You’ll probably have to sign a waiver that prevents you from pursuing additional compensation in the future. As a result, you’ll be stuck with the money you accepted up front. Stand your ground and demand the money you need.
Insurance companies handle personal injury claims every day. You probably have little-to-no experience navigating the claims process. You may also not be fully familiar with your legal rights. Insurance companies know this and will use it to their advantage. This is particularly true when you share fault for your own accident. They may try to scare you into accepting an offer because you played a role in the crash. If they’re successful, you’ll accept a settlement that is far less than your case is worth.
Solution: Fault is not a bar to recovery in California. You can recover money as long as someone else is also to blame. Insurance companies will try to shift most of the blame to you. Don’t let them. The less fault you share, the more money you can get. Hiring an attorney to help you determine liability can be very helpful.
Need More Help?
Insurance companies will do whatever they can to minimize the amount of money you receive after an accident. While you can navigate the claims process on your own, it can be beneficial to hire an attorney. At Injury Trial Lawyers, we are dedicated to helping you get the money you deserve. We will make sure that insurance companies act in good faith and extend a fair settlement offer. If you’re not satisfied with the offers you get, we won’t hesitate to file a personal injury lawsuit on your behalf. Call us today to schedule your free consultation.