How Insurance Companies Strongarm Victims to Avoid Paying Out Car Accident Settlements
Insurance companies are known to strongarm victims of car accidents. Allstate was recently reported as one of the worst insurance companies for victims because the company will drag out claims and offer low settlements.
If an accident involves two parties with the same insurer, it can be even more difficult to secure a fair settlement.
Insurers strongarm victims in several ways:
Deny, Deny and Deny Fault at All Costs
You may have a police report clearly showing that the other driver was at fault, but the insurance company will deny fault until the very end. Insurance companies are known to drag out proceedings in an effort to get victims to settle.
Denying fault is another tactic used to make proceedings drag out as long as possible.
When victims have bills to pay and food to put on the table, they’ll often feel forced to take a settlement.
Denial is a way to stall even if the opposing driver was cited for reckless driving, speeding or going through a stop sign.
Quick Call and Delay Tactic
Most drivers don’t know what to do after a car crash. Drivers will call their insurance company, file a claim and hope that the insurance providers will work in the best interest of all parties. The problem is that insurance companies do not want to pay high settlements.
One tactic that is commonly used is the quick call and delay tactic.
The insurance company will contact you shortly after the accident. The call may be pleasant, and the company may even want to “settle” quickly. Settlements are often not done in good faith. Instead, the tactic is used to calm you down and stall the proceedings.
Communication often stops after this initial call in an effort to delay the negotiations.
The goal of the insurer is to stall negotiations until the statute of limitations runs out. Once the statute of limitations has passed, you can no longer proceed with a claim.
Make sure that you research your state’s statute of limitations for filing a claim.
Take the Blame Tactics
When you talk to the insurance company, one word can be used against you. A common tactic is to persuade victims to admit partial fault for an accident. Insurance adjusters may cause you to say something that:
- Minimizes the extent of your injuries
- Causes you to take partial or full blame
It's important to choose your words wisely, don’t sign any documentation that you do not fully understand and remember that your statement may be recorded.
Insurance companies may also ask you to sign a medical authorization form. The form allows the insurance company to dig through all of your medical records. When insurers look through your medical records, they can blame back pain that you had ten years ago for the pain that you’re currently experiencing.
If the insurance company can pin your injuries on a pre-existing condition or find any means to discredit your claim, they will do so in an attempt to reduce the payout you deserve.
Victims that are out of work or injured will often cave to lowball settlements. You have to put food on the table and make mortgage payments, and insurance companies will use this hardship to their advantage.
Lowball settlements are offered by the insurance adjuster because they’re in the best interest of the insurance company.
Insurers want to save money – not pay out fair settlements.
First offers, and many subsequent offers, are often lowball amounts. Insurers will try and justify these low offers by stating:
- You took too long to seek medical attention. Insurers will claim that you were injured outside of the accident because you took too long to make a claim. The issue is that a lot of injuries and pain do not present for a few days.
- The injury you sustained is due to a pre-existing condition. Adjusters will look into your medical history and find a similar injury or ailment that they can blame your injuries on instead of the accident.
Lowball claims will include refusing to acknowledge your pain and suffering. If you have injuries and medical bills to pay, you can be sure that the insurer will try to refuse to pay these bills.
Oftentimes, when you don’t take the first settlement offered, the insurance company will start to ignore you. The goal of the insurer is to allow the statute of limitations to expire. Insurers may claim to have lost your paperwork, or they may stop answering all of your calls completely. We've also seen insurance companies claim that injuries are not severe enough for a settlement or that if a victim doesn’t take the settlement, they will receive no compensation at all.
An attorney who knows your state’s laws will be able to spot these strongarm tactics and fight on your behalf for a fair settlement.