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Shining a Spotlight Insurance Company Tactics: How They Try to Delay or Undervalue Your Claim

You pay your insurance premiums religiously every month. You’ve never made a late payment, in fact, you’re often early. You’re also the type of client insurance companies love. You haven’t filed a claim in years. 

Since your insurance company sees you as a valued client, you don’t expect any problems when you file a claim after an accident. Suddenly, you’re getting the run-around and this is only an example of the tactics used by insurance companies in personal injury cases today. 

Successfully settling a claim with an insurance provider is rarely as easy as you expect. However, if you’re familiar with the tactics insurance companies commonly use, it’s often easier to reach an agreeable settlement to resolve your case.

Tactics Commonly Used By Insurance Companies

The last thing you want to deal with after an accident is navigating tactics insurance providers often use to delay or reduce the value of your claim. Unfortunately, this is usually part of dealing with an insurance company after filing a claim for damages. 

These tactics can often be frustrating, but they’re also not illegal. At the end of the day, your responsibility is to get around the tactics to ensure you receive the full value of your personal injury claim.

Contacting You Immediately After the Accident

Don’t be surprised to get a phone call from the insurance adjuster within days of your accident. You may even still be working on the paperwork but there’s an insurance adjuster ready and willing to offer you a settlement. 

How does the adjuster know you’re getting ready to file a claim? Chances are, the at-fault driver has notified their carrier. Sometimes, the insurance adjuster will even show up in your hospital room.

This prompt attention can be flattering but don’t be fooled by the adjuster's seemingly caring attitude. Yes, the insurance adjuster is probably concerned about your well-being, but they also have a job to do. Their job is to settle your claim for the lowest possible dollar amount. 

By contacting you soon after the accident, the insurance company is hoping you haven’t had time to fully calculate all of your damages. They hope you’ll be so thrilled to see a check that you won’t care about the dollar amount. An insurance adjuster can also contact you immediately after you notify them of the accident using the same tactic.

Ask to Record Your Conversations

Hopefully, you’ve watched enough crime dramas to know it’s never a good idea to allow someone to record your conversations. Remember, anything you say can and probably will be used against you to devalue your personal injury claim.

Some states also don’t require two-party consent to record a conversation. When it comes to phone calls, sometimes the law even states all clients have a responsible expectation their conversations are being recorded.

If the insurance company asks if you mind having the conversation recorded, your answer should be an emphatic no. When it comes to phone calls, you may have a couple of options. You can clearly state you don’t want to be recorded. 

Sometimes, this is enough for the insurance provider to turn off any recording devices. The best advice is to presume your conversations are on the record and simply be careful with what you say.

When the insurance adjuster presses you for details about the accident, keep your answers vague. There’ll be time to get into details after consulting with a personal injury attorney. Letting your attorney handle any conversations with the insurance company is the best way to protect your legal rights.

Offering an Immediate Settlement for the Release of Your Claim

As mentioned earlier, insurance companies often offer an immediate settlement with a catch. You must either sign or verbally agree to release the claim. Releasing the claim means you agree the claim is settled and no longer hold the insurance company responsible for covering your damages.

Yes, a quick settlement is tempting, especially if your bills are already piling up. However, once you agree to a release you can’t go back and file another claim for damages relating to the same accident. Your signed or verbal release agreement is considered legally binding and will probably be upheld by the courts. If your expenses continue piling up, it’s your responsibility to pay any remaining costs.

The best thing to do is politely decline the offer. Even though it means waiting longer to receive a check, at least you can relax knowing your bills will eventually be paid.

Sign a Medical Authorization Document

Even though this tactic is a little shady, it’s also legal. Insurance companies can ask if you’re willing to sign a medical authorization document. So, what is a medical authorization document? This is an incredibly powerful tool that can end up being detrimental to your personal injury claim.

The document gives the insurance company permission to dig into your medical history, and they can review your medical records stemming from the accident and even go back years in your files. The insurance provider is searching for any pre-existing conditions that may affect the severity of your injuries. 

Even if the eggshell doctrine applies in your accident case, the insurer can still try to use the information to devalue your claim.

Your medical history may even allow insurance companies to try and shift at least some of the accident blame onto you. Depending on state laws, this can significantly reduce your settlement amount. For example, if your accident occurs in a comparative negligence state, your claim can be reduced by the percentage of your blame.

Protecting Your Legal Rights Against Insurance Company Tactics

If you’re injured in an accident, you have legal rights and this typically includes seeking compensation for your damages. However, before you sit back and wait for the settlement check the insurance company will try to delay or lower your claim’s value.

Knowing what these tactics are gives you a slight edge. You know what to expect and can take steps to counteract any tactics. Working with an experienced personal injury attorney is also a good idea. Your attorney can help ensure the insurance company treats your claim fairly.

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