Some insurance companies use a variety of procedures and tactics to deny or devalue your injury claims. These companies have learned that settlements can be kept low by making an offer soon after your loss. They don't want to give you time to consider your options or research the fair market value of your claim. If you suffered a serious loss that impacts your life in a major way, consult an experienced accident attorney on how to proceed.
Even if you’re not sure if you have a case, please feel free to call us at Bergener & Associates for a free consultation. Our skilled legal team can help you determine if you have a claim and advise you on the best next step.
Low-Ball Settlement Offers
Insurance companies know that you'll be less likely to battle it out with them, and more likely to accept a fast, low-ball claim. All the more reason to resist their first offer. Spend the time to research the fair market value of your loss. Get independent repair estimates from reputable repair professionals. If you reject the insurance company's initial offer, prepare yourself for delays. Insurance adjusters are betting that the added delays are costing you time and mental grief, and they'll pour on the pressure to get you to reconsider their initial offer. Be persistent and wary of follow-up offers. Adjusters will slowly increase their settlement offer in bracketed ranges to make you think they are fairly negotiating your claim. In reality, the adjuster's entire bracket is probably below the actual value of your claim.
To preserve your rights and to protect yourself from unfair claims settlement tactics, ask your adjuster to explain and justify the offer in writing. Insurers must provide you with a reasonable and accurate explanation of a compromised settlement. Unfair insurance claim tactics often include an adjuster presenting himself as an "expert" in all matters relating to your claim. It's best to consult an experienced personal injury lawyer who has access to a variety of independent accident experts at his or her disposal.
Insurance Bad Faith Claims
When insurance companies fail to live up to the terms of their policies and unreasonably delay or deny payment of valid claims, they have conducted themselves in bad faith. If your insurance company denies your claim, you need not accept their initial denial as the final answer. Instead, you may ask a supervisor at the insurance company to review the claim and denial. You can also contact your state's insurance regulatory agency about the claim, and finally, you can seek the advice of an experienced accident attorney. This is highly recommended since bad faith laws are complex. In addition, bad faith litigation can take many forms and will either result in a settlement with the insurance company, an arbitration decision, or a verdict.
Bad faith actions that insurance companies can be charged with include:
- Failing to promptly and thoroughly investigate a claim
- Deliberately delaying payment
- Unreasonably denying benefits to a claim
- Refusing to settle a case
- Failure to fully reimburse your rightful claim
- Resorting to unreasonable interpretations when translating the language of the policy
After an accident, it is always a good idea to consult with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney. Doing so early on can not only save you a great deal of worry and stress but can also protect the value of your claim. As a rule, the sooner an attorney takes over a claim, the more effective he or she can be.