For most people facing an insurance adjuster following an auto accident that wasn’t their fault, it is their first time in such a situation. Having no experience with the tactics of the insurance agent puts the accident victim in a position to be easily taken advantage of. All drivers should be aware of the ways insurance companies try to weaken victims’ cases and lower settlement amounts so that they can avoid being a victim of more than just a careless driver.
Five Common Tactics Used by Insurance Companies
The goal of all insurance adjusters is to save their company money. Paying maximum policy amounts on every auto accident claim would quickly bankrupt an insurer, so it is the job of the adjuster to get the settlements down as much as possible. While the tactics they use are not technically illegal, they do prey on victims who are unaware of their rights regarding auto accident claims. It is important for accident victims to understand that insurance agents are not police officers or judges and they cannot compel you to do anything. Here, we present five common tactics and what your response should be:
Talking to the injury victim before he or she has a chance to contact an attorney.
On average, Kansas City accident victims who hire an attorney receive settlements that are significantly larger than accident victims who represent themselves. Insurance companies know this. They often try to dissuade injured victims from seeing an accident attorney. One way they avoid attorneys is by offering a quick settlement. This settlement is often much lower than the settlement the accident victim is entitled to.
Your response: Do not speak with an insurance adjuster—even your own—immediately following your accident and never accept a quick settlement offer. You have every right to consult an attorney.
Delaying the claim.
Insurance companies know that accident victims are often unable to work and may need money to pay medical expenses. They hope that delays will make you desperate to accept a low settlement; meanwhile, they earn interest on the money that they are not paying to you.
Your response: You may have some luck fighting claim delays by being assertive about your settlement. Call frequently and don’t take no for an answer. Having an attorney on your side, however, is the surest way to a speedy settlement.
Requesting unnecessary information.
The adjustor may claim that he needs a particular piece of paper before your claim can be processed or may require that you provide documentation before they approve treatment. Be aware that you do not have to release all of your medical records to them.
Your response: Know your rights and what documentation you are actually required to provide. Never offer up more than what is required.
Acting like your friend and making promises.
This is another tactic to keep you from hiring a car accident lawyer to handle your claim. Again, the insurance agent's main goal is to save his company money by reducing your payment. Don't be fooled.
Your response: Maintain a professional relationship with any insurance adjuster. Do not answer personal questions and do not trust that he or she has your best interests in mind.
Asking for a recorded statement.
Recorded statements are not required. They are simply a way for the insurance company to seek evidence to deny your claim. The insurance adjuster is hoping you will admit some fault for the accident or apologize for your actions and, having it on tape, he will use this against you later on.
Your response: Never make a recorded statement without first talking to an attorney and having your attorney present at the time of the statement.
Our car accident attorneys are all too familiar with insurance company tricks and tactics. If you believe the insurance company is taking advantage of you, contact Kansas City Accident Injury Attorneys and ask to schedule a free consultation with one of our auto accident lawyers.