Auto insurance companies are, at root, financial institutions. They exist to make money. This is true of State Farm, Allstate, Nationwide, GEICO, Progressive, USAA, The Hartford and the rest.
Yes, insurers do pay claims, but they only do that after exploring every opportunity to avoid paying. Settling with victims of car crashes and losing personal injury lawsuits hurt an insurance company’s bottom line. Spending money to contest and deny claims is good business for insurers. Living up to advertising slogans about keeping policyholders in good hands or being on “your” side lowers profits.
Throughout my decades of advising and representing Virginians hurt in car crashes, I have seen auto insurance companies repeatedly and consistently deploy three tactics to discourage and defeat claims for the reimbursement of medical expenses, the replacement of lost wages and compensation for physical pain and emotional suffering.
- Let a Virginia Car Accident Attorney Deal With Insurance Claims Adjusters
- A Virginia Personal Injury Lawyer Discusses How to Negotiate With the Insurance Company
- Should I Give a Statement to the Insurance Claims Adjuster From the Company of the Person Who Hit and Injured Me?
Now, all of the tricks described here are legal. They are not respectful of or kind to people who are in real pain and actual financial need. But they are allowed. My job as a personal injury attorney fighting to secure the best outcome for my client is to flag the tricks and prevent them from working.
‘You Don’t Need a Lawyer’
As soon as an insurance company adjuster learns that the injured person has hired a personal injury attorney, they know they have lost control of the narrative. The claims adjuster will continue trying to dominate that particular discussion, but the story of the case changes when the crash victim has a caring legal expert on their side.
People who receive quality legal advice and representation are less likely to accept a quick and inadequate settlement. They are also much less likely to drop the case because they find dealing with the insurance adjuster to be too time-consuming and frustrating. The personal injury lawyer takes over the majority of the paperwork, phone calls and other communications.
Delay, Delay, Delay
Every insurer tries to wait out injured car crash victims. Phone calls go unanswered because the claims adjuster is perpetually “in a meeting.” Messages go unreturned. Forms are misplaced, and “just one more round of reviews and approvals” is always required before an official response can be given.
The insurer figures that time is on their side. The longer a crash victim goes without receiving compensation, the more willing they may become to accept a low settlement or walk away altogether. A personal injury attorney will apply pressure to speed up the process while also responding as quickly as possible to requests for additional documentation.
‘We Just Need Your Statement’
The very first insurance company representative you speak with will probably tell you that they need a recorded statement from you in order to ensure your claim receives proper consideration. This is not true.
First, you have no obligation to disclose information regarding what you experienced during the crash, the nature of your injuries or the medical treatments you received over the phone or in an email. Second, you never have to give a claims adjuster permission to record your conversation.
Sharing information early in the case can make receiving a fair settlement or receiving a just jury award difficult. The insurance company will present the things you said as the only facts that matter regardless of what happened or which new evidence came to light after you provided the recorded statement.
Instructing the insurance company to direct all requests for information to your personal injury lawyer will protect your rights and interests while also ensuring your privacy. Best of all, these benefits will most likely come at no charge. The vast majority of Virginia personal injury law firms, including my own, take no fees from a client until a settlement or jury award is secured.