You’ve been hurt, and you need help. You unknowingly entered a war zone when you were injured even if you didn’t know it. You find yourself in unfamiliar territory “owned” by an insurance company. You’ve on its turf.
The insurance industry has spent billions on advertising that has spread false and misleading information about accident claims. Insurance companies have lobbied their state legislators to pass laws limiting your rights as a citizen, restricting how much they have to pay out, and changing the legal landscape to make it easier for them to deny claims. I’ve witnesses a whirlwind of changes in the way I’m allowed to handle claims just in the last decade. And they keep coming.
Many people who wind up on juries believe too many myths the insurance companies spread, for example, a large award to a personal injury claimant will make all the prices go up for the things we have to buy, including insurance. They’ll say that certain claimants are just trying to get rich and get “jackpot justice.”
These attitudes can be a huge obstacle for you in your case. The insurance company is aware of this, and the adjuster will use any means necessary to pay out as little as possible, even on legitimate claims that involve serious injuries. Insurance adjusters receive extensive training on how to save their companies money and how to document their files early on with information that will help them defeat you. They are a skeptical bunch. I know. I used to work amongst them. It was a “protect your own” and “us against them” mentality that truly alters how a person thinks about such claims.
Many companies reward their adjusters with bonuses related to how much they save their companies by paying less in claims and lowering claims expenses. The claims adjuster accomplishes this in several ways.
- Intentional delay of your case. They know you’re hurting for money. You’re on the phone telling them how desperate you are to get your case settled. They love hearing you spill your guts about this. They know they hold all the cards, and they will lowball you because they know you’re desperate. So they take their time and slow-walk your claim because that tactic gives them the edge. Time is not your friend if you’ve been hurt. Also, you may be getting close to the filing deadline if you wait too long. Don’t let them put you in this bind by waiting until the last minute.
- Requesting unnecessary information. They don’t mind waiting another eight weeks to get unnecessary information that will not add any value to your claim. They do this to intentionally delay your case. See Rule 1 above.
- Disputing medical treatment. Adjusters are trained to think they know what’s best regarding your medical care even though they likely have never had any medical training. The insurance company puts arbitrary deadlines in their heads that they parrot: “Soft tissue injures should always heal in eight to twelve weeks.” Really? Don’t ask them for any medical literature to support their claims because they don’t have any.
- Adjusting the medical costs downward. Never upward. In all their collective wisdom, they know how much your doctor should charge you, and they will cut your medical bills without first corroborating the amounts with your doctor. You still owe all your balance, but adjusters think that’s your problem. They’re going to pay you what they feel they should and expect you to live with it.
- Misrepresenting or refusing to tell you your insurance benefits. You don’t believe me? Just ask your adjuster who’s being so nice, “Can you tell me the insurance liability limits your client who hit me had?” Listen to the adjuster say he or she would love to but can’t because of company policy or the law. Baloney. No law prohibits an adjuster from telling you how much an insured has. It may be company policy to hide this information, but it isn’t the law. I have insurance companies tell me their limits every week. Don’t buy their hype.
- Telling you to not hire an attorney. They will claim a mysterious study says you’ll get less money if you hire an attorney. They’re wrong. They will pay more money and you will get more money if you hire the right lawyer.
- Acting as if they’re your friends. When I was an adjuster, we were required to meet with a claimant within eight hours of the claim being reported; insurance studies showed that if you could meet in person at a claimant’s home or workplace quickly, you would drastically save money by lowering attorney involvement. This is simply a tactic to keep you from hiring a lawyer. I’m not saying all adjusters are bad or evil people; I still have friends on that side of the claims world. But they have to answer to their supervisors, who answer to stockholders. Keep in mind that folks are loyal to those who butter their bread. Just know they have one goal in mind—settling your claim for as little as possible.