Choosing to buy insurance is a way of managing risk for most of us. We do so in order to deal with the unexpected that happens in life, trusting that our insurance company will have us covered should things go wrong. If you have purchased insurance to secure your health, travel, vehicle, or home, you have probably done so as part of your financial planning, and in the belief that any potential loss you may experience will be covered by your insurance company as long as you pay your premium for your insurance policy.
Unfortunately, reality can be quite different. At the end of the day, insurance companies are businesses. As such, they are generally not inclined to pay out claims—especially expensive ones. Victims who file personal injury claims often come to realize that insurance companies don’t always have their best interests as their priority, as they try to employ various tactics to avoid liability.
The Role of the Insurance Adjuster
The role of an insurance adjuster (also known as a claim adjuster), who works for the insurance companies paying your claim, is to investigate what happened, review the insurance claim, and determine whether the insurer should pay you for damage or injuries. If the answer is in the affirmative, the insurance adjuster will also specify the amount that the insurance company will propose to pay you.
In this process, there are many tactics employed by insurance adjusters that can negatively impact your personal injury claim. Insurance adjusters may take drastic measures to devalue or even deny claims: after all, the less money is offered to you, the larger the insurance company’s profit margin.
Even though it would be impossible to list every single example of how insurance adjusters might try to do this, some of the red flags you should definitely look out for include the following:
You Are Offered a Fast Settlement in a Pressing Way
Insurance adjusters tend to contact victims shortly after an accident claim is filed, expressing sympathy and using reassuring language to make you feel that they are truly on your side. They seem ready to extend what might initially appear as a fair and generous offer. It is also not uncommon to be told that this first offer will be their highest offer.
This is typically followed by intense pressure to get you to agree to a fast settlement as soon as possible, adding to the stress you are already experiencing because of your injury. As a result, you end up not having the space and time to properly assess if this is, in fact, a fair offer. This is something you can find out after consulting with a personal injury attorney. In many cases, the settlement offered may actually be far smaller than what you should be receiving and may hardly cover your bills.
Most importantly, if you give into the pressure and agree to that settlement, you won’t be able to change your mind in the future and seek a higher value once you are better placed to estimate the true extent of your damages and expenses.
Remember: you don’t have to speak to or negotiate with the other party’s insurance company adjuster yourself. You also don’t have to offer them any information or put yourself in a position where you will be pushed into making a decision that may not be in your best interests and which you will not be able to reverse if you come to change your mind.
Before you rush into accepting an offer, consider the option of letting a personal injury lawyer like those at Legal Help In Colorado do that on your behalf and help you get the settlement you deserve!
The Insurance Adjuster Asks You to Make a Statement about Your Injury
Another classic insurance adjuster move is to contact plaintiffs and ask them for a formal statement, either verbal or written, allegedly to get the facts down and help with processing the claim. If you agree to this, you will then probably be asked leading questions that aim at getting information about your injuries and the event that led to them, which could be later on used to hurt your claim.
The truth is that insurance adjusters don’t need a formal statement from you and there is no reason why you should agree to any such request, especially if it concerns a recorded statement. What you say in the statement can’t be taken back and it may enable them to subsequently devalue or deny your claim.
The best way to proceed would be to sit down with your personal injury attorney, discuss your position in detail and have them draft a statement that will provide an accurate description of the events without putting the chances of success of your claim at risk. Alternatively, if the insurance adjuster assigned to your claim pushes for a verbal statement having an experienced injury attorney on your side is still invaluable. At Legal Help In Colorado, the attorneys will join the conference call and ensure that nothing said on the call can be twisted and used against you.
You Are Asked to Sign Official Documents
Insurance adjusters often ask victims to sign various official documents related to their cases, which usually include medical authorization forms. This is something you should be very careful about, even if they claim that they need to have these in order to see your medical bills in order to issue your payment, or that they need to have your medical records to verify your injuries.
If you give in to such requests and end up signing medical authorization forms, particularly blanket ones—i.e. with no mention of time limits or particular doctor names—you will be effectively granting them access to your entire medical history. This will allow them to dig out anything that they can use against you to reduce or deny your claim, such as previous injuries or medical conditions, whether they are related to your case or not. For example, insurance companies will most likely attempt to argue that your injury constitutes a pre-existing medical condition or was simply a flare up of an injury from a prior car accident.
Our advice is that you should never accept to sign any formal documents requested by insurance adjusters. Speak with your attorney who will see that only the documents required to process your claim are provided to them.
They Delay the Settlement of Your Claim
This is another approach that many insurance companies use to frustrate plaintiffs. Being well aware of the stresses injury victims face and the fact that they are in need of receiving payment to keep up with life, they may try to take advantage of your vulnerability by deliberately delaying settlement. In fact, they can do so to the point when you start feeling desperate and thus more willing to accept any lowball offer in fear that everything might be lost, or to just be done with the whole process.
Continuous delays may even make you so annoyed and fed up with the whole process that you decide to abandon your claim altogether. More sinisterly, this could also be a tactic aimed at delaying the case so long that the applicable statute of limitations runs out.
If you are facing undue delays in your settlement and experiencing what seems like intentional stalling, you should speak with your lawyer right away and demand what you lawfully deserve. With the right kind of legal support, the other party’s insurance company will be on the receiving end of all necessary pressure to move your case forward.
They Deny Liability for Your Injury
If you, as a personal injury victim, wish to recover compensation on a related claim, you will need to prove that the other party was responsible for causing your injury. Hence, it makes sense that the at-fault party’s insurance company will attempt to deny liability, by claiming either that their insured party was not responsible for your accident or that you were also partially at fault. This is a very common insurance adjuster tactic, whereby they try to attribute a significant portion of the fault to you, irrespective of what is actually true, with the aim of reducing your settlement award.
In this context, it is also not uncommon for insurance companies to make such attempts, and even entirely deny your claim, without offering any kind of reasoning or providing totally insufficient reasoning for doing so. You need to be alert about these sorts of actions, which are effectively designed to confuse and frustrate victims, with the ultimate aim of driving them to give up on their claim. Having a supportive personal injury attorney, like those at Legal Help In Colorado, who will not fall for the bait will enable you to stay focused and continue to pursue your claim towards getting the compensation that you deserve.
They Downplay Your Injuries
Insurance companies will often try everything within their power not to pay the amount claimed. In addition to denying liability for your injury, they will also often attempt to downplay your injuries as much as possible using any information they have available.
Injury victims don’t always realize the impact and full extent of the injuries they sustain, particularly shortly after an accident. Therefore, if you are injured in an accident, avoid rushing to the conclusion that “you are fine” instead of getting proper medical attention. Failure to do so may lead the insurance adjuster to attempt to devalue your claim by arguing that you would have sought medical care if your injuries were serious.
Even when you seek medical assistance and receive related treatment for your injury, the adjuster may still try to claim that the treatments you got were unnecessary or that the recovery process took longer than required.
To avoid all this, it is crucial that you are examined by a doctor soon after your injury, receive appropriate medical care, remain consistent with your treatment and recovery plans and, of course, have all the required documentation to support your injury claim. By hiring an attorney who is skilled in personal injury claims, you can take much of this pressure off of yourself. When you have a team like the one at Legal Help In Colorado working for you, the paralegals and attorneys help facilitate proper treatment, provide assistance if you have trouble getting to appointments, and will compile all of your medical records so you don’t have to.
They Claim That the Insurance Policy Does Not Cover Your Injury
It is also possible that an insurance adjuster may not be upfront about the amount of insurance that is available for a claim, by giving you the impression that the relevant coverage is much lower than what it is in reality. Likewise, you may be led to believe that you are not entitled to seek certain types of damages, such as for pain and suffering, lost wages, and so on.
In general, as some insurance companies may try anything they can to help them not pay out your claim, it is absolutely crucial that you have a solid knowledge of what the at-fault party’s insurance policy truly covers.
They Advise You Against Hiring an Attorney
Hiring an attorney is not just your right, but also the best way to protect yourself after an accident. Insurance companies know this and may try to prevent you from hiring one. Hence the unsolicited advice given by some insurance adjusters to accident victims, that they don’t really need to seek an attorney’s advice for the claim, or that they can’t really afford one anyway.
Sure, the option of settling your personal injury claim on your own and entering into negotiations with the other party’s insurance companies and their expert teams is always there but, in our experience, it is never the best one!
No matter how hard an insurance adjuster might try to convince you that they are ‘only trying to help you out’ and that they are ‘doing the best to ensure you get a quick and fair settlement without complicating matters by involving lawyers’, you need to keep in mind that their job is not to put your best interests first. In fact, they know full well that your personal injury lawyer will do their best to support your claim and make sure you get the best deal possible while also making sure you get the medical treatment you need. Most importantly, seasoned personal injury lawyers are familiar with insurance company practices and can spot and deal with tactics that can hurt your claim in ways that you may not be in a position to do yourself.
Remember: if you sign the release offered by the at-fault party’s insurance company you won’t be able to change your mind and seek additional money after the bills start rolling in. Seeking the support of an experienced personal injury lawyer will protect you against such possibilities, as your lawyer will be bound to look out for your best interests. As for the question of cost, the personal injury lawyers at Legal Help in Colorado take on personal injury claims on a contingency fee basis Therefore, you need not worry about being able to afford legal help, as you won’t have to pay any fees before you receive your settlement.
Contact Legal Help in Colorado
Even though it is unlikely that insurance companies will give up such practices any time soon, you do have rights that you can exercise and someone you can call to help protect those rights. Insurance companies in Colorado owe a duty to their policyholders to act in good faith and settle insurance claims fairly, so you should consider seeking the advice of a legal professional if you feel that an insurance company is not dealing with your case as it should.
Ross Ziev and his team at Legal Help in Colorado have vast experience in representing personal injury victims and negotiating claims on their behalf with insurance companies. We are familiar with insurance company tactics and are not intimidated by them.
Contact us today at (303) 351-2567, click here to book a time for your free consultation, or visit our offices at 6795 E. Tennessee Ave. #210, Denver, CO, 80224 for a free consultation, so we can discuss your case and see how we can help you pursue your claim aggressively and successfully. You won’t have to pay us any fees until you recover your compensation.