Motor vehicle accidents have historically been one of the leading causes of accidental deaths and injuries across the United States. While an injured driver can seek compensation for their losses through civil action against a driver who has caused an accident with them, the first step in an injured driver’s recovery after a motor vehicle accident is typically an insurance claim.
Every driver must purchase and carry auto insurance that complies with their state’s minimum insurance requirements. Unfortunately, dealing with insurance adjusters is rarely an easy or pleasant experience, and many injured claimants face unfair delays, denials, and even bad faith dealings in some cases. If you need to file an auto insurance claim after an accident, it’s vital to know how insurance adjusters operate and the best way to handle them in your situation. You should also know the value of speaking with an experienced attorney about your claim.
What Does an Insurance Adjuster Do?
Insurance companies operate on a simple yet largely one-sided business model: in exchange for coverage, policyholders pay premiums each month. The amount paid in premiums generally reflects the scope of the policyholder’s coverage. A minimal policy for a low-risk policyholder would likely require a much lower premium payment than a more expansive insurance policy for a high-risk policyholder.
Insurance companies increase their profits by collecting premium payments from their policyholders, but they lose money when they must pay out on claims. The role of the insurance adjuster is to investigate a claim for coverage and essentially look for any and all justification to reduce the claim amount or flatly deny the claim. While the federal government requires that all insurance companies operate in good faith and process insurance claims honestly, some insurance adjusters engage in manipulative or even outright deceptive tactics to dupe or pressure claimants into accepting low-ball settlements.
Time Is a Critical Factor for a Claimant
It does not cost an insurance claim adjuster or their employer anything to allow the clock to keep running when a claim is filed. However, an injured claimant will likely experience mounting economic distress the longer their claim remains unpaid. When dealing with claim adjusters, time is on the side of the insurance adjuster, not the claimant.
Understand Insurance Adjusters Tactics
An insurance adjuster will first review a claim to ensure it is legitimate. You should expect the insurance adjuster handling your claim to be very suspicious of any inconsistencies or irregularities with your claim. It is not uncommon for adjusters to look for anything they can use as leverage against a claimant that will eventually compel them to accept a lower settlement amount than they rightfully should.
Insurance adjusters are also trained to use conversational tactics to manipulate claimants. For example, when an insurance adjuster meets a claimant in person to discuss their claim, they may ask a question. After the claimant responds, they will simply wait and not say anything. This creates the impression that the adjuster is expecting to hear more and creates an uncomfortable silence. In most cases, the claimant will want to break this awkward silence, and adjusters use this to basically trick claimants into offering more information than they should.
What Is Insurance Bad Faith?
While many insurance adjusters engage in questionable or unethical tactics to gain leverage over claimants, these actions are largely legal. However, bad faith insurance tactics are not, and any such behavior is a violation of the insurer’s obligation to process claims in good faith. Bad faith insurance practices can potentially include:
- Deliberately delaying a legitimate claim to pressure a claimant into accepting a lowball settlement.
- Misrepresenting or lying about the terms of the policy in question in an insurance claim.
- Intimidating a claimant or threatening them with undue legal consequences if they do not drop their claim.
- Ignoring or obfuscating elements of a policy that would justify a claim.
- Intentionally ignoring communications from claimants.
- Denial of a legitimate claim without investigation or justification.
These are only a few examples of how some insurance adjusters might violate claimants’ rights. If you have experienced any of this type of behavior during a recent exchange with an insurance adjuster, speak with an experienced attorney as soon as possible.
How Can an Attorney Help With An Accident Claim?
While it’s possible to encounter problems with an insurance adjuster in many different situations, car accident claims are by far the most common reason for Americans to file insurance claims. An experienced attorney can not only help a client with their insurance claim after a motor vehicle accident but also potentially assist them in pursuing additional legal actions against the party responsible for their injuries.
Your attorney can communicate with an insurance adjuster on your behalf. They can even help you draft your initial demand letter for coverage, reducing the chance of an adjuster unfairly pushing back since you will have professional legal backing behind your claim. In most cases, if an insurance adjuster notices that a claimant has had an attorney draft their demand letter, the adjuster will not even bother trying to push back against the claim unless there is a clear and legally valid reason to do so.
An experienced attorney will help to ensure their client receives the greatest settlement possible for their claim, and it is also possible for an attorney to help their client explore additional legal options. For example, if you must file an insurance claim against an at-fault driver’s auto insurance policy after they hit your car, your claim payout may be as much as the policy allows. However, it could still be insufficient to fully cover your losses. In this situation, your attorney can help you file a civil action against the at-fault driver.
If you or a loved one recently sustained an injury and need to file an insurance claim to recoup your losses, it’s best to have an experienced attorney assist you with the process. If you have already filed a claim and encountered what you believe to be bad faith practices from the insurance company’s adjusters, talk with our firm. The right attorney can help you determine the best available legal options in your situation. Easton & Easton has the resources and experience to assist with the most difficult insurance issues following personal injuries. Contact us today to learn more about the legal services we can provide and how we can help you deal with insurance adjusters with greater confidence.