If you think an insurance company is interested in helping you get the money you deserve after an accident, think again. When you buy insurance, you’re purchasing security. In exchange for your hard-earned dollars, you trust the insurance company to be there when disaster strikes and help shoulder a potentially devastating financial burden. But too many insurance companies care more about profits than policyholders.
Companies that once lived up to their promise to be “a good neighbor” when disaster strikes dramatically shifted business practices in the 1990s to meet Wall Street’s demands for short-term profits. The result is chronicled in the book Delay, Deny, Defend: Why Insurance Companies Don’t Pay Claims and What You Can Do About It by distinguished Rutgers law professor Jay Feinman. Not surprisingly, insurance companies are recording astronomical profits as a result.
Get the Payout You Deserve With These Tips
What can David do against these insurance-company Goliaths? Here are some tips on what to do before, during, and after filing a claim with an insurance company:
Avoid the worst companies: Were you seriously injured? Not according to insurance companies. Some companies will outright dispute if an accident even occurred. Shockingly, some will even offer gifts and bonuses to employees who deny claims and keep payments minimum. It pays to do a little homework before signing on the dotted line. Good neighbor? Friendly Flo? Good hands? Start with this list of the 11 worst insurance companies from The National Law Journal.
Know your policy: Insurance companies will create arbitrary rules, often referencing provisions that do not exist or that contradict a previous statement. The tactic here is that denial after denial will defeat and deflate claimants, making them feel they have no choice but to throw in the towel. You should know precisely what is covered and what you need for an appeal if your claim is denied.
Double- and triple-check forms: The insurance company has agreed to pay the claim. So, you can rest easy, right? Wrong. Another tactic used to boost profits and deny claims is to delay the payment for as long as possible. They might send out incorrect forms and then blame claimants for the error or set short time limits on when a claim can be filed. An insurance company can use an incorrectly filled-out form or simple mistakes to deny or delay claims. Be thorough and honest on every form you fill out.
Do not cash the check right away: Insurance companies will send checks with lowball offers or pay premium refunds if they rescind your coverage. Cashing these checks can be legally interpreted as accepting an offer. Because getting a victim to settle for much less saves them money. Insurers are all about making and keeping as much cash as possible. In cases involving elderly or gravely ill claimants, some insurance companies have even delayed payments in hopes that the customer dies before they have to pay.
Get everything in writing: Insurance companies know that many customers may be afraid or unwilling to hire a lawyer. They use that fear to intimidate claimants into thinking that a court battle would only end in an insurance company victory. If you need to fight your insurance company, you may need to produce every bill, form, and piece of correspondence.
Reach out for help: Billions of dollars in profits and thousands of high-priced lawyers on the payroll mean insurance companies are always ready to defend their questionable tactics in court. An experienced plaintiff’s lawyer can guide you through your claims process and provide the firepower necessary to challenge the insurance company in court.
If All Else Fails, Contact Kleinpeter Schwartzberg Boutwell
Sometimes you can do all the right things, follow the rules and send in the forms on time, and your insurer can still act in bad faith or make the claims process difficult. In those instances, you may benefit from hiring an experienced Baton Rouge personal injury attorney from Kleinpeter Schwartzberg Boutwell to help you get the compensation you deserve. If you were involved in an accident and would like a free consultation, please contact us today.