After a car crash, your first thought is how you are going to pay for your medical bills and fix your car. Once you figure out who the other guys insurance company is you call to set up the claim. Now nobody will return your calls or inspect your car. Next you get a form letter that they are “investigating” your claim. You didn’t realize that you were on a trip to the insurance industry circus and Pennywise the Clown was on the other end of the phone.
It won’t be long before you realize that the insurance company’s goal is not paying claims, making things right for their insured’s negligence or trying to figure out what the right thing to do. The goal is definitely not fair compensation for property damage or personal injuries. Instead, the goal is to protect the insurance company’s bottom line.
This is how ring master / adjuster makes money for the insurance company:
Document House of Horrors – In order to make the process as arduous as possible, the insurance adjuster will request more and more documents before they consider your claim. They won’t normally do this all at once. Instead, they will do it in stages to drag the process out. The goal here is to delay the claim and intimidate or frustrate the claimant. Common requests for documents are requests for prior medical records done with invasive medical releases so they can find everything they can about you medically and personally. They are like modern muckrakers. Another common request is for personnel files and tax records that have nothing to do with the claim.
The Forms Ferris Wheel – The insurance industry loves forms and likes to use them as an excuse to delay and defend against payment of claims. Forms and more forms seems to be the insurance industry mantra. Using burdensome paperwork is one way to prevent, delay and deny claims. They will happily say they cannot pay a claim because you have not sent a form even though you faxed it three times.
The Low-Ball Free Throw – The new normal in the insurance industry is to make a low-ball settlement offer and act like that is all that you are ever going to get in the case. The goal is to get the person in a quickly as possible to take a quick check and close out the claim. Unscrupulous adjusters know that they can get rid of a certain percentage of injury claims by paying out fast cash to needy accident victims. This is especially after injury victims have been without a car, out of work or desperately trying to come up with deductibles and co-pays for medical treatment with their doctor.
Repeating Merry-Go-Round — After all the hassle, confusion and carnival gamesmanship, which the insurance company is undoubtedly “very sorry” for, you get your next demand for more documents, a new round of forms to fill out and another low-ball offer. Round and Round you go at the carnival.
The insurance company would like you to believe this is just how things work but you don’t have to face the insurance industry alone. Having an attorney who knows how to handle insurance claims can help you avoid a trip to the insurance industry carnival.
The insurance company plays games, because they think they can get away with it, because you don’t have enough experience with these types of claims to recognize what they’re doing.
When you retain a personal injury attorney early in the process, insurers suspend much of their gamesmanship. They know the cheap tactics and bad parlor tricks won’t make things cheaper for them, so they move onto their next goal: closing the case quickly. Your initial settlement offer will be changed to more closely reflect reality. From there, with the help of your attorney, candid negotiations can begin and your case can move forward.