In most cases, people don’t interact with insurance companies unless they are purchasing insurance or have been in an accident. To add to the stress of being in an accident (and possibly sustaining injuries), it can be time consuming and emotionally draining to worry about obtaining a fair settlement. This is not to say all insurance companies aren’t fair, but the completely fair ones can be few and far between. We’ve compiled some tips for dealing with insurance companies so you can be ready to deal with those calls when the time comes.
A few general tips before we get started: be the one to report your accident to your insurance company and make sure you get a copy of your insurance policy declaration page that lays out your coverage. Additionally, get a copy of the police report for reference while you’re dealing with the insurance companies. Before leaving the scene of an accident, be sure to take photos of all vehicles at the scene and the damage done. Above all, be honest and cooperative.
With that said, let’s get started.
- Avoid giving a recorded statement.
Insurance companies largely insist that recorded statements are routine and for a reason—those recorded statements are often used later on to minimize recovery. It’s possible that the recording won’t be used in this way, but these recorded statements rarely, if ever, help your case. They really just help the insurance company. It’s also extremely unadvisable to give your statement to the insurance company (especially someone else’s insurance company) without speaking to an attorney first or having an attorney present.
- Have your doctor bill your insurance company after an accident.
If you were hurt in an accident and received medical attention (a singular instance or ongoing treatment), insist upon your doctor sending the bill to your insurance company. Doctors and chiropractors sometimes do not want to bill your coverage and would rather wait until you settle and get paid from your settlement to have you foot the bill. This is due to the fact that many doctors and clinics have signed contracts with certain insurance companies to accept lower fees for their services and waiting until the case settles puts more money in their pockets.
- Don’t settle if the settlement isn’t right.
You have at least two years in some states (one year in some) to settle. People sometimes assume they’ll recover from their injuries quickly or think they’re not injured enough to seek compensation and so they agree to settle on a smaller compensation. However, if that injury gets worse or becomes chronic, there’s nothing that can be done after the settlement is accepted.
- Limit your communication with the other driver’s insurance company.
The only time you should talk to the other driver’s insurance company is the call you make to report the claim or confirm that a claim has been opened. Do not give a recorded statement (you’re under no obligation to do so) and then only give the date, place, and time of the accident. After that, don’t talk to them again until you’ve either completed your medical treatment for any injuries or you’ve been told by your doctor that your condition has become chronic.
- You are entitled to what was billed for your medical care.
The law dictates that you’re entitled to the reasonable value of your medical services, which means you’re entitled to what was billed rather than just what was paid or what you paid out of pocket.
- If you have underinsured insurance, that doesn’t mean your rates will go up.
You have a contractual right to payments if someone else is at fault for the accident. Especially since you paid an extra premium just to have those benefits.
Photo Credit: American Diversified Insurance Services