If you’ve ever gotten the sense that the insurance representative knows a lot more than they’re letting on, you aren’t alone. Dealing with insurance companies can be tricky, and if you don’t have experience in these matters, getting true justice can feel like an uphill battle. That’s where an experienced car accident lawyer can make a world of difference.
There’s more to the insurance claims process than you might realize…
Here are 17 things insurance companies don’t want you to know after an accident:
You Don’t Have to Take the Settlement Offer
When someone offers you money, it can be very tempting to take it. But you should know that you do not have to accept any settlement offer — even if the insurance adjustor makes it seem like you do.
As we’ll see below, there may be very good reasons for declining the initial settlement offer (or at least talking it over with an Augusta personal injury lawyer during a free, no-obligation consultation before deciding whether to accept.)
The Settlement Offer Might Be Much Less Than You Deserve
Insurance companies want to make injury claims go away as quickly as possible — and for as little money as possible. If they can “buy you off” with a quick, cheap settlement, they will. Unfortunately, early settlement offers are often intended to do exactly that… even if they know you might be entitled to much more.
If You Sign Their Settlement, You Let Them Off the Hook Forever
Settlement offers usually require you to sign a mutual release agreement, which means that in order to get the money, you have to promise you will never make another claim against the insurance company relating to the same accident or injury. Generally speaking, mutual release agreements are strictly enforced and last forever.
Sometimes, accident victims don’t realize until much later that the accident is going to cost them a lot more than they thought. Medical bills can trickle in and add up over time. Injuries can get worse. You might end up needing additional treatments. A wound that was expected to heal might get infected and lead to disabilities or complications. If you settled too soon, you might be powerless to get all the money you need to recover.
They View Your Claim Differently Once You’ve Hired a Lawyer
Insurance companies receive numerous injury claims every day. They take a big-picture look at all the incoming claims and form a strategy for paying out as little as possible overall.
Part of that strategy is avoiding litigation. They know that litigation can cost them money. They also know that, according to studies, accident victims are more likely to end up with more money once they hire a personal injury attorney.
One of the things insurance companies don’t want you to know is that as soon as you’ve hired a lawyer, they start looking at your claim differently. Every situation is different, but getting a lawyer on your side early on may make the insurance company much more likely to negotiate reasonably toward a fair settlement.
You Don’t Have to Wait to Hire a Lawyer
Naturally, insurance companies would strongly prefer that you not hire a lawyer. After all, your lawyer is only going to help you, not the insurer.
Accordingly, insurance adjustors are notorious for discouraging accident victims from talking to an attorney. “Lawyers only make things more complicated,” they might tell you.
Alternatively, they might suggest it’s too soon for you to talk to a lawyer, implying that attorneys are only necessary if you can’t work things out with the insurance company on your own.
But the insurance company doesn’t want to work things out for your benefit. They care about their own interests.
Insurance companies don’t want you to know that it’s never too early to call an attorney. You can contact a law office right after a car crash (or any other accident or injury) — you don’t even have to wait for a claim to get filed or for an adjustor to contact you.
The Insurance Company Is Not on Your Side
If you watch TV even occasionally, you’ve seen commercials from insurance companies that promise to be a good neighbor, to stand by your side, or to lend a helping hand.
When the time comes to hand over money, though, they sing a different tune.
While insurance companies should treat your claim honestly, fairly, and in a timely manner (more on that later), the truth is that they have a lot of wiggle room, and they’ll often try to make the most of it. Unlike your lawyer, the insurance companies are not your advocates, nor do they represent your interests. They serve their shareholders.
Insurance Adjustors Are Specially Trained, Supported by Lawyers, and Working Against You
Many insurance adjustors attend extensive training programs where they learn how to sound friendly while actively working against the injury victim. Remember: they are employees of a large corporation, and they have a job to do. That job is to save the insurance company money, which means paying you less money (or no money) if at all possible.
Whenever you talk to an insurance adjustor, you should pretend that you’re talking directly to the insurance company’s lawyers instead. The adjustors and the insurance lawyers work closely together.
For that matter, it’s best to avoid talking to the insurance adjustor altogether. Let your lawyer do that instead.
Remember this: if a lawsuit were to be filed concerning your injury claim, you’d ultimately be filing it against the insurance company. That makes them your opposing party, i.e. the adversary. That’s how they’re thinking about your claim, so you should think about your claim that way too (even if you don’t currently plan to file a lawsuit).
Everything You Say Gets Recorded & Can Be Used Against You
Insurance companies make extensive notes during their conversations with you. Everything gets documented. Depending on the company and which state you’re in, the audio of your phone conversations might also be recorded and stored on the insurance company’s computers or servers.
Adjustors might try to lead you into making contradictory statements. They might ask you confusing or misleading questions intended to trip you up. They might try getting you to accidentally admit fault.
Adjustors are good at what they do, and that includes finding ways to use your statements against you.
They Plan to Use Your Recorded Statements and/or Medical Authorizations Against You
If the insurance company asks you to sign a medical records authorization or to give an official “recorded statement,” beware.
They want your medical records so they can find something in your medical history to help them defend against your claim. They might also want their own doctors to review your records and then provide a medical opinion that contradicts your own doctor’s opinion.
We strongly urge you to talk with an experienced Augusta personal injury lawyer before agreeing to a formal “recorded statement” or signing any kind of medical authorization or release form.
They’re Trying to Scare and/or Confuse You
One of the chief things insurance companies don’t want you to know is that their paperwork is intentionally written to be confusing and to create convenient loopholes for the insurer.
Likewise, their communications with you are sometimes designed to frighten or intimidate you. They may try to make you feel rushed, or like you’re lucky to get any money from them at all.
These are tactics, and an experienced lawyer can help you stand up against them.
They Want to Settle Your Case, Even if They Pretend They Don’t
Trials can be costly and time-consuming, so it’s usually in everyone’s best interest to avoid one if possible.
Insurance companies know that losing at trial could end up costing them a lot of money — and that juries aren’t always in love with insurance companies to begin with.
So while the insurance company might act like it’s perfectly happy to deny you a fair settlement offer and simply let your claim go to trial, in reality, they would strongly prefer to avoid that.
That said, some personal injury claims do go to trial, and insurance companies don’t always settle.
At M. Austin Jackson Attorney at Law, we have been able to achieve out-of-court settlements for the majority of our personal injury clients. However, we are always willing to take our clients’ claims all the way through trial if doing so is in their best interest.
They Have Plenty of Money
Insurance companies aren’t hurting for money. Their wallets are plenty full. It’s one of the things insurance companies don’t want you to know — in the grand scheme of things, the average accident victim’s claim is a drop in the proverbial bucket. Every time you see an insurance company commercial on TV, just remember that they’re buying those ads because they have sufficient cash flow to do so. And that means they have enough money to pay you the compensation you rightly deserve.
You Might Have a Claim Even if You Were at Fault
Feeling guilty because you were partially at fault for your own accident? Georgia follows a rule called modified comparative negligence. There’s a lot to know about that rule, but essentially, it means you may still be able to recover financial compensation from the other party’s insurance company — even if you were partially at fault.
If They Deny Your Claim or Their Own Doctor Doesn’t Support Your Claim, It’s Not the End of the Story
If you were injured in an accident because of someone else’s negligence, you have rights – no matter what. The insurance company can’t take away your rights by denying your claim, nor can their doctor single-handedly invalidate your legitimate injuries. You can fight back.
By hiring an experienced Augusta personal injury attorney, you can level the playing field and demand fair compensation for your losses.
There Might Be More Evidence Than They’re Telling You
Insurance companies will want to highlight the evidence most favorable to them. Depending on the circumstances, however, there might be additional evidence available that could help your claim.
For example, at M. Austin Jackson Attorney at Law, we sometimes work with accident reconstruction specialists to obtain new evidence about the cause of a crash. Alternatively, we might seek surveillance footage, eyewitness evidence, or expert testimony.
The police report is only part of the story. Before making any conclusions about the evidence available in your situation (or the assignment of fault/liability), talk to a lawyer.
A Lot of Their Profits Come from Investing Their Holdings
Insurance companies don’t want you to know that they aren’t relying solely on monthly premiums to fund their payouts.
When they get all those premium payments in each month, they turn around and invest some of that money. They also earn interest on their holdings over time.
That’s worth knowing because it helps you understand the insurance company’s motivations. They want to pay you as little as possible because they want to continue to reap interest from their holdings. And even if they expect that they will eventually have to pay you a larger sum, they want to delay it as much as possible (without going to trial) to maximize their earnings from their holdings.
An experienced, aggressive attorney can help you fight back against undue delay and demand that your claim be handled fairly and efficiently.
They Can Get in Big Trouble if They Handle Your Claim in Bad Faith (and May Owe You a Lot of Money for It)
Even though insurance companies don’t work for you and don’t represent your interests the way an attorney would, they do have an obligation to handle your claim in good faith. That means abiding by policy terms; by the letter of the law; and by acting reasonably, honestly, and ethically with respect to you and your claim.
Unfortunately, insurance companies don’t always honor their duty of good faith. If they breach that duty, you may be able to bring a claim against them for bad faith practices and/or violation of state or federal law. An experienced Augusta personal injury lawyer can help you understand the insurer’s duty of good faith within the context of your particular claim.
Schedule a Free Consultation with the M. Austin Jackson Attorney at Law
There are a lot of things insurance companies don’t want you to know. But with a lawyer on your side, you can stand up against them on equal footing.
When you set up a free consultation with the Jackson Law Offices, P.C., you can talk with one of our experienced Augusta personal injury attorneys at no cost and with no obligations. Consultations are available in person or over the phone.
If you choose to hire us, you won’t have to pay us anything unless and until we get you money. Our fee will only be a portion of your total recovery.