Insurance companies can make dealing with them after a car accident more stressful than the crash itself.
Whether you’re dealing with your own insurance company, the at-fault driver’s insurance company, or both, you may find the insurer doesn’t make things easy to get the compensation you need for your injuries, losses, and property damage.
You may not know the proper steps to make an insurance company honor your claim and pay you the money you deserve after a car accident. By understanding how insurance companies operate and their tactics to reduce or deny claims, you can better counter their so-called defense tactics and increase your chances of getting full and fair compensation.
One of the best things you can do is to contact an experienced car accident attorney for help. A lawyer will have the legal knowledge and experience to help you fight the insurance company after a car accident, and they can advocate on your behalf throughout the process and improve your odds of achieving a successful outcome.
Understanding How Insurance Companies Operate
Insurance companies are profit-driven businesses. They protect policyholders against claims involving property damage and injuries. An insurance company seeks to maximize profits, and paying on claims reduces its profit margin. Thus, most insurance companies don’t like paying out claims, or they try to pay as little as possible.
Once they receive a claim, the insurance company will assign an insurance adjuster to the case. Their job is to investigate the accident, assess the damage, and determine how much the insurer will pay.
Although you may think an insurance company has your best interests at heart and will pay you the full compensation you need immediately, the adjuster will look for every opportunity to reduce the amount of your claim or deny it altogether.
Tactics Insurance Companies Use to Reduce or Deny Claims
To reduce the amount they have to pay on claims, insurance companies may use the following tactics:
Lowball Settlement Offers
Insurers often offer lowball settlement offers to claimants. They hope you will accept the settlement and move on. They hope injured parties are desperate to receive their money quickly to pay for their medical bills and other financial obligations that have piled up since the accident.
In most cases, these lowball settlement offers will not cover all of your injuries and losses. You have no obligation to accept the initial settlement offer.
Once you accept a settlement, you can’t pursue additional compensation later, even if you later discover that your injuries will cost far more than you initially thought.
Never accept an offer without consulting an attorney. A lawyer can fully assess your claim and determine the compensation you need. Your attorney can also enlist medical experts and other professionals who can attest to the extent of your injuries and how they will affect your life.
Your car accident claim is likely worth much more than the insurance company offers, and you don’t want to leave money on the table or discover that you will need compensation for future medical care.
An attorney can use evidence to show that your injuries will require ongoing medical care to increase the value of your claim and negotiate with the insurer to get a higher amount.
Although many state laws require insurance companies to acknowledge they received a claim and initiate their investigations, no laws dictate how long an insurance company can take to investigate a claim or negotiate a settlement.
An attorney can stay on top of the situation and regularly contact the insurance company for action and answers. They can use their authority and resources to push back against dilatory insurance companies to help move the process along.
Many insurance policies contain exceptions and waivers that the insurance company can use to deny claims. Insurers may also deny claims if they suspect insurance fraud. Sometimes, they deny legitimate claims for highly suspicious reasons, citing confusing or hard-to-understand policy terms and exclusions.
If the insurance company denies your claim, it must notify you in writing. An attorney can review the denial letter and your policy, explain the reasons for the denial, and advise you of your options. An assertive attorney can then use evidence to support your claim and deal with the insurer to get them to honor the policy.
How to Fight Against Insurance Companies
Most insurance companies are large corporations with vast legal resources. They typically have a team of legal professionals with extensive experience denying or reducing legitimate claims. Still, you can build a strong case and hedge your bets against a claim denial or reduction.
Gather as much evidence as possible at the accident scene to support your claim and establish liability. This includes photographing the scene and your injuries, obtaining eyewitness statements, reporting the accident to authorities, and getting a copy of the official police report.
Include all the bills you incurred to treat your injuries and repair or replace your damaged property. You also want copies of your medical report, treatment plan, and other evidence pertinent to your claim.
Keep a daily journal documenting the physical and emotional toll the accident and injuries have had on your life. You can also include statements from family members, friends, and co-workers to attest to the impact the ordeal had on you, your job, and your relationships. Document all communications with the insurance company if they refute anything or dispute liability.
Watch What You Say and Don’t Sign Anything
Insurance companies will reduce or deny your claim whenever possible. Sometimes, they will use your words against you to shift the blame away from them.
For example, if an insurance representative calls you and asks how you’re doing, and you say you’re doing all right, the insurer could take that to mean you did not suffer severe injuries in the accident.
Even if you say something like, “I’m sorry for the accident,” merely out of compassion and kindness, the insurer could twist that to mean you accepted blame for the crash, even though you weren’t at fault.
When speaking to any insurance company, including yours, offer only basic, factual information and don’t go into specifics about the crash or its cause. Never apologize for the accident or any injuries others may have sustained, and never post anything about the crash on social media.
As stated previously, insurance companies will offer lowball settlements to reduce what they pay on a claim. Do not sign anything from the insurance company—you may inadvertently sign away your rights to the full and fair compensation you deserve.
Contact an Attorney
Experienced personal injury lawyers understand insurance companies' tactics to deny valid claims or rope claimants into accepting low settlement offers that don’t cover their injuries and damages.
A lawyer can manage all aspects of the claims process for you, including preparing and submitting a claim properly and promptly to mitigate the possibility the insurer has grounds to deny it. Your attorney can also negotiate with the insurer to get a fair settlement, and many insurers take claims more seriously if the claimant has an attorney representing them.
Taking the Insurance Company to Court
Despite your attorney’s best efforts at getting an insurance company to honor your claim and pay you what you deserve, there are situations where you may have to take your case to court.
States have laws against unfair claim settlement practices, such as:
- Knowingly misrepresenting relevant facts to claimants involving available coverage
- Failing to acknowledge receipt of a claim and initiating an investigation
- Acting in bad faith by not offering a prompt, fair, and equitable settlement
- Compelling or coercing claimants into accepting a lowball settlement
- Denying claims without first conducting a reasonable investigation
- Failing to follow prescribed timelines for completing an investigation and offering a fair settlement
If you experienced any of these tactics from an insurance company, contact a personal injury attorney in your area right away.
Speak With an Experienced Car Accident Attorney Today
Do not let an insurance company take advantage of you by unjustly denying your claim or forcing you to accept a lowball settlement that doesn’t cover your damages. A car accident lawyer will have the resources and options to improve your chances of getting the fair compensation you deserve.
After receiving treatment for your injuries, your best action is to contact a local car accident attorney for advice and assistance. The personal injury attorneys at Atlanta Personal Injury Law Group offer free consultations so you can get answers to your questions and determine your next steps at no cost.
Our car accident lawyers also work on a contingency fee basis. You won’t pay anything out of pocket for us to represent you, and we will only accept a fee if we recover compensation for you through an insurance settlement or court award.
Contact us today for a free consultation and learn how we can fight an insurance company after a car accident and help you get the maximum compensation you need.