When people deal with insurance companies to make claims for injuries or damages, those companies they've been paying premiums to for years will often do anything they can to avoid paying out a settlement. What are some of the tricks they use?
If you're in a car crash, a work accident, or anything else that requires you to file a claim with your insurance company, you should be prepared for some resistance. Insurance companies are notorious for trying, at all costs, to avoid paying out for claims. If you're attempting to seek compensation from an insurance company, it's in your best interest to hire a lawyer to help you navigate through the various tricks insurance companies will try and play in order to avoid having to pay you—one of which, as you might have guessed, is telling you that you don't need to hire an attorney.
Insurance companies have a lot of sneaky tricks they'll play that can prevent you from getting the compensation you deserve. As you know, the best offense is a good defense, and that means being able to recognize their tricks. What are some common tricks insurance providers play on claimants?
1. Telling You Not to Hire a Lawyer
Insurance companies know that lawyers will try and get as much compensation as possible for their clients. Make no mistake, though—even the lawyers aren't working for you, per se. Lawyers want more money so that they get a bigger payout, but that doesn't mean they're not helping you in the process. Insurance companies, while not afraid of lawyers, would rather deal with regular people who aren't informed on various laws and regulations and who are more likely to simply take what they're offered in terms of compensation. Hire a lawyer if you're making an insurance claim and feel like you're getting the run around from claims adjusters.
2. Delaying Judgment on a Case Until the Statute of Limitations Runs Out
When adjusters consistently tell you that they just need "a little more time" to review the details of your claim, don't buy it. They know the statute of limitations on what you're attempting to get compensation for, and will attempt to run down their time limit as much as they can. Once the statute of limitations is up, you have no room for legal recourse. Once the time limit is up, you're stuck with no compensation, and no chance to sue for what you deserve. Once time's up, they'll deny the claim full stop, and you won't be able to do anything about it. This is one of the reasons it's so important to hire an attorney if you're dealing with a personal injury case, a workers compensation case, or negotiating after an auto accident.
3. Telling You Your Damages are Not Covered Under Your Policy
Insurance providers will bank on the idea that you don't know what your policy covers and, perhaps more importantly, that you won't read up on what it does. They'll tell you that your policy doesn't cover the damages, injuries, or bills you need to be compensated for, with hopes that you'll just take their word on it. Carefully read your policy, and if you still don't understand if you're covered, an experienced lawyer will help you decipher the policy documents.
4. Offering a Very Low Settlement First
If an insurance company does offer you money, though it may sound like a lot to you, chances are their first offer is much less than what you actually deserve. Again, they are banking on your ignorance of your policy, the laws, or what standard compensation is for the claim you're making. They make the assumption that you need the money (which you possibly do) and that because of that, you'll take whatever you are offered. Don't fall for this tactic—you can get more money by hiring a lawyer.
5. Having Claimants Sign Forms and Statements
Another way insurance providers will try and trick claimants is by getting them to sign releases and forms that essentially void or prevent the potential for getting compensation. These forms might have language that has you unknowingly admit fault to an accident or waive rights to reimbursement. Don't sign any forms your insurance company gives you until you have them reviewed by a lawyer.