In our previous blog posts we’ve summarized that car accident are life-changing events that can occur out of nowhere. One moment driving down the motor way listening to the radio, and in the next your car is totaled, your body is aching with pain and you’re trying to grasp what has happened.
We also talked about what insurance companies usually do, how they want to deny or minimize your claim payment and what reasons (or tricks) they use to deny your claim. Today we will be focusing on the tips on settling a car accident claim.
Contacting the authorities
If you wish to successfully settle your car accident claim, there are several things you need to do immediately after the accident.
First and foremost, you need to contact the authorities and wait until the police arrives at the scene. Once the police arrive, make sure to tell them exactly what happened and seek medical attention if you need to. You might not feel that you need help from a doctor, but that can be a result of the shock your body went through. So make sure that you get examined by the doctor. Once the effects of the shock settle down, you will feel the effects of the accident. This can take a few hours.
Once the doctor establishes that you’re safe and not injured, take photographs of both damaged vehicles and make sure that the license plates are clearly visible. You should also make notes about the other car e.g. the make, model, color and exchange information with the owner of the other vehicle. Taking photos of the scene and location is also a good idea because this will provide useful information on the weather, traffic signs and even skid marks.
Doing this, you’re starting the car accident settlement the right way. Also, you need to keep in mind that you might not be settling the claim directly with the owner of the other vehicle, but rather with his insurance company.
Consult a Personal Injury Lawyer
Not all accidents will lead to a totaled car. Some will just end up with minor property damage, for which you don’t heel to have an attorney. It’s easy to settle this.
But if the accident caused severe damage to your vehicle and caused significant injuries to you, you should really consider getting help from a skilled and experienced personal injury lawyer. It might help your claim.
Experienced personal injury lawyers are well informed about the process to come and can anticipate the strategies that the other side will implement so he/she can be well prepared.
The goal of the insurance company is to protect the bottom line and their self-interest. They do this by offering you very low settlements and they might even try to dispute the entire claim. But having a good personal injury lawyer in these cases can help you a lot because he/she will be negotiating on your behalf.
Recorded statements and documents
It’s not uncommon practice, that insurance company representatives will contact you as soon as they learn about the accident. The representative might sound reasonable, friendly, polite and helpful but keep in mind one thing…they work for the insurance company, not you. The goal is to minimize the value of the claim. And since many car owners aren’t exactly skilled in these matters, the insurance representatives will even try to use some rather questionable methods to get what they need/want.
One of the things they might use are recorded statements. If you get asked to give a statement, politely decline and tell the insurance representative that you will be speaking with an attorney first. This is your right before giving any statements. You might as well use it.
Another thing that insurance companies also do, is send you documents like a medical authorization or similar. The strongly advise that you DO NOT sign any type of authorization that comes from the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Why? Well because then the insurance company can then dig through your medical history looking for a way to prove that some of your previous injuries were the cause of the accident.
So when settling a car accident claim, it’s imperative that you speak to a personal injury lawyer. He will be negotiating with the insurance company, he will release any medical records and advise you on giving statements.
A car accident can change your life in an instant and it can happen without any warning. As if injuries aren’t enough, but you also might need to navigate the complex and lengthy process of an insurance claim. This can be both stressful and confusing, especially if you know nothing about car insurance claims.
But the question still remains. How do car insurance claims exactly work? Here’s what you need to know about car insurance claims, especially if you were injured in a car accident.
After the car accident that you were involved, you should notify the insurance company right away. In some states you can file the claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. And in other states, different rules will apply. For example, did you know that Kansas has a no-fault insurance system? This basically means that if you were in a car accident and you’re not the at-fault driver, you have to file the claim with your own insurance company.
After the accident, in most cases the insurance companies will contact you. Sometimes even while you’re recovering. Once the claim gets filed, the insurance company appoints an adjuster who will evaluate your claim and determine its worth.
You might think that the adjuster is here to work in your favor. Well, he/she isn’t. The adjuster appointed by the insurance company works for the insurance company’s interests. The sole goal of the adjuster is to minimize the amount that the insurance company will pay you for your claim.
Working with the adjuster
It’s often the practice that the insurance adjuster will contact you in order to get more information about the accident. The adjuster might even ask you to give a recorded statement. However, if you haven’t yet spoken to a personal injury lawyer, we strongly recommend that you don’t give a recorded statement to the adjuster or any other representative from the insurance company.
The recorded statement and any other evidence is collected for processing your claim. So when the adjuster asks you to give a statement, just politely decline and let him know that you will be willing to give a statement once you consult your personal injury lawyer. In case you’re still under some stress from the accident or you’re experiencing pain and take medication for it, allow yourself some time to pass before giving a statement. Also, you can rely on your personal injury lawyer to negotiate the process with the insurance provider.
Sometimes, the car accident will only cause property damage and no one will be injured. In cases like that, the insurance claim process is pretty simple. The insurance company will ask you to take your car to the mechanic, who will then assess the damage and provide the estimate to the insurance company. Car accidents that only end in property damage is something that you can handle. So you don’t really need a personal injury lawyer.
Determining who’s at fault
It’s the adjuster’s job to determine who caused the accident and who’s at fault. Sometime, even when the police record clearly state that you’re not at fault, the adjuster will try to dispute it.
Another practice is that insurance companies sometimes want to settle a claim rather quickly. If someone from an insurance company approaches you and makes you an offer, don’t accept it. It’s best to first speak to a personal injury lawyer who can evaluate your claim. Because when insurance companies make you an offer right away, the offer is usually extremely low compared to the realistic value that you should be compensated for (the insurance company is trying to pay out as little as possible).
Once your personal injury lawyer evaluates your claim, you will realize that the offer from before was really low. The lawyer will provide you a range of values and a fair offer from the insurance company should fall within that range.
When you agreed on how much you would request from the insurance, the lawyer will draft a letter, include additional proof and send the new offer to the insurance company. The insurance company can do three things: accept your offer, offer you a lower amount or just deny it.
As you can see, the insurance claim process is not as simple. The entire process can be a complicated maze you need to navigate and that’s why it’s important that you have a good and experienced personal injury lawyer who will support you.
In the past two posts, we have discussed what to do when insurance companies deny your claim and what tips and tricks insurance companies use in order to deny your claim.
This week we will be focusing on the potential reasons WHY insurance companies deny your insurance claim. So let’s get started.
Being in an accident is stressful enough. But learning that the insurance company has denied your insurance claim is very disconcerting.
There are several reasons why they refuse your insurance claim. Some of them can be valid, while others not so much but hey still use them in order to pay you as less as possible. So if you’re dealing with an insurance claim and it gets denied, it’s good do consult with a personal injury lawyer because they know the system and are more aware what tactics insurance providers use in order to either minimize your claim or just deny it.
Cause of the accident
Many insurance companies have denied insurance claims to their policyholders simply because the accident you were in could have been avoided OR because your behavior caused the accident. Furthermore, claims have also been denied if your conduct was in conflict with your insurance policy. This practically renders your policy ineffective. And if the vehicle was operated by someone who is NOT included on the insurance policy or didn’t have a driver license when operating the vehicle…well that’s another potential reasons insurance claims get denied.
These are the most common reasons and mostly logical and valid. But what about if the insurance provider is using not valid reasons and starts acting in bad faith?
Insurance claim denied over previous injuries / surgeries
It’s a common practice that insurance companies ask their prospective policyholders to sign so called ‘medical authorization forms’. The important thing to point out about these forms is that you shouldn’t (under ANY circumstance) sign them until you’ve spoken to a personal injury lawyer. You must ask yourself ‘What’s the big deal about those forms?’. Well, when you sign those forms, you’re basically giving the insurance company permission to dig through your medical history and to look for previous injuries or surgeries.
If by any chance, you had injuries and surgeries for those injuries before, the insurance company could use that as a possible (but not really valid) reason for the accident and thus deny your insurance claim. Another example is that insurance providers may use previous injuries as an argument to diminish your injuries from the accident i.e. to present as less severe than they really are.
Another reasons why insurance companies require you to sign the medical authorization forms is so that they could see if you have any pre-existing conditions. Let’s say that you have pre-existing back injury and that you suffered new injuries in the accident. Since your back injury is a pre-existing condition, the insurance company can argue that the accident was cause because of your back problems and deny your claim.
Time of accident and time of seeking treatment
When you’re in a car accident it’s important that you seek medical treatment immediately. Waiting to seek treatment, may be another reason why your insurance provider refuses your claim. The lapse of time between the accident and treatment, can give ‘ground’ to the insurance provider to argue that your injuries are actually caused another even, not the accident.
Insurance companies go so far that they even state in their insurance contracts a specific time frame in which you need to seek treatment for your accident-related injuries. Of course, there are cases when it’s good to wait before seeking treatment and you can learn more about that from your personal injury lawyer.
Right after the accident, while on the scene, make sure that you don’t deny any injuries until you have been thoroughly checked out by a medical professional. Denying injuries at the scene of the accident may also be another reason why they deny your claim. So if you get into an accident seek medical evaluation at once.
What do to if your insurance claim is denied?
We must be clear on one thing. Insurance companies make profit from taking higher premiums from their policyholders than what they pay in claims. So their interest in denying insurance claims is quite significant.
In the event that your claim gets denied, you will need help from an experienced personal injury lawyer. Furthermore, policyholders that have a lawyer are taken more seriously.
Have you even wondered that paying for insurance is a waste of money?
Well, a lot of people have. Especially those who’s claims the insurance company denies. They have given their hard earned money for years and when they need help from the insurance company, they turn the other cheek.
Not sure if you know, but in the U.S. the insurance industry is one of the largest businesses in the world when it comes to revenue. So how do insurance companies deny claims in order to increase their profit?
1. Making your claim as confusing as possible
When you want to get new insurance, the insurance company is giving you a contract to sign. We all know about these and we read them thoroughly and carefully like the Terms & Conditions of our ne Apple iPhone i.e. we don’t. The insurance companies used so many technical terms in their contracts making them virtually impossible to understand for a common citizen who doesn’t have a Law degree. Things were so bad, that some states have passed the ‘plain English’ rule for consumer contracts.
2. Your credit score
You most likely know that insurance companies determine your premium that you’ll pay based on your credit score. Someone, due to a bad credit score can’t even get insurance because, from the insurance company’s point of view, they are a high liability. This type of discrimination is actually affecting the poor and senior citizens, since they have a little credit and also those that had a financial crisis because of someone else.
Insurance companies have also often refused someone a policy because they have no credit score, even though the person is paying his / her bills on time. On the other hand, some car owners have received a rate that is increased by several times, even though they have a clean and perfect driving record.
3. Delaying insurance claims
It’s not uncommon that insurance companies deliberately take a long time to finalize your claim. They do this because they are aware that many policyholders would rather give up than to wait for the insurance to finalize the claim. And it’s not uncommon that this type of ill practice is present at long-term care insurers who take advantage of the policyholder’s age and poor health.
4. Hanging the sick out to dry
As we know, healthcare in the U.S. can be expensive and that’s why we opt in for health insurance. Because of extremely high healthcare costs, some insurance companies have even provided bonuses for their employees that meet so-called ‘cancellation goals’. These situations involve insurance sales reps that target patients that are in the middle of their treatment(s) and when they are most vulnerable. When the healthcare for these patients becomes too high for the insurance company to cover, they cancel the policy retroactively and basically leaving the policyholder without insurance
5. Call and get your policy cancelled
A lot of people even fear calling their insurance provider and asking about for a claim because often, insurance providers quickly after, suddenly decide to cancel their insurance. If not cancelling, the next time they refuse to renew your policy OR even crank up your insurance premiums. Insurance companies often consider an inquiry about the possibility of making a claim as ACTUALLY making a claim and they will spare no resource to quickly ‘drop’ the policy holder, all in order to avoid paying them their insurance.
So what to do?
When an insurance company denies you’re your claim, they are basically leaving you out to dry. In situations like that, you need to have a good legal representative by your side. So if your insurance is denying your claim, make sure to call Schenk Podolsky and let us help you with your insurance claim or if you have a personal injury claim.
Accidents are traumatic enough. But when you’re a victim of an accident, aside from the trauma, you’re also going through weeks and sometimes even months of treatment and rehabilitation, depending on what type of injury you suffered in the accident. Car accidents are painful enough, but then you even have to deal with the insurance company which can also be frustrating and long. Insurance companies serve and work in their best interest and it’s often the case that they reduce or even deny you claim to receive payment for the accident.
Insurance companies are not there to protect your rights, but their interests. They do this my presenting your injuries as small as possible and all that in order to reduce the amount they are owed to pay you as compensation.
What you need to know when working with insurance companies
When you have an insurance claim, the insurance company will give to an adjuster. The adjuster’s job is to take statements regarding the accident. Statements are taken from both drivers and furthermore, the adjuster will also review the accident report.
It’s likely that the adjuster will find that you had prior injuries or he/she might even deem that you’re the one responsible for your acceded which will surely further reduce your compensation. It’s also very common that the adjuster disagrees with your medical report and present your injuries as less severe that they really are. All these thing, make negotiations with the insurance company extremely difficult and very complicated.
Resolving an insurance claim
More than one factor influences how long it takes to resolve an insurance claim. If the outcome is favorable for the insurance company, they will tend to wrap up the process and quickly as possible. But it’s typical that tan insurance claim takes several weeks before it’s complete. And since the process can sometime be long and not to mention stressful, it’s beneficial to have a personal injury lawyer who can help with negotiations. Having a personal injury lawyer that knows the system can make things pretty straightforward. And in case the outcome of the insurance claim is not favorable for you, the matter needs to be handled by a court.
The insurance company denied my claim. What can I do?
Let’s assume that the insurance company denied your insurance claim or gave you a compensation that it’s not really what you deserve. In cases like these, there are a few things that you can do. The first thing is that you don’t sign any release or settlement check before you have a consult with your personal injury lawyer. Once you do speak to him/her, you have the right to waive taking any further legal action. Your personal injury lawyer will review all the details of the accident report and try to work with your insurance company in order to get you a better settlement. Proving your injuries are severe as claimed (if the insurance company presents them as not so severe) might require further medical documentation from your doctor. And in order to further support your case, accidents reconstruction can be used which will prove how the accident occurred. Your personal injury lawyer will send a demand package to your insurance company and in the even that they don’t agree / accept then you may sue and take the matter to court.
Working with insurance company is complicated and can be stressful if you don’t know how the system works. That’s why, in order to ensure best results and highest compensation, we recommend that you work closely with a personal injury lawyer.
You may have heard of an umbrella policy when discussing insurance. However, many people are unaware of what it actually is and how to utilize it. Because of this, umbrella policies may not be purchased or even used. When it comes to personal injury cases, it’s important to know what your umbrella policy will cover. After all, there’s no sense in having the policy if it’s not going to be of some use to you down the road. Keep reading for the basics of personal injury coverage with an umbrella policy.
What Does an Umbrella Policy Cover?
An average umbrella policy is basically an add-on to the policies you already have. This means it covers above what your normal policy covers. Bodily injury, personal injury, property damage, and landlord liability is what an umbrella policy more commonly covers. Umbrella policies don’t cover things like business losses, written or oral contracts, personal belongings, etc.
How Does an Umbrella Policy Work?
As mentioned above, an umbrella policy kicks in when your normal policy isn’t enough. It acts as a band-aid of extra coverage just in case your usual policy isn’t enough. For example, if you were in a car accident that was your fault, and the other party was injured in the incident, your normal car insurance will cover up to a certain amount. However, if something happens and the case ends up calling for more than your car insurance will cover, the umbrella policy will begin covering the amount that went beyond the coverage of your normal car insurance.
Many people think having an umbrella policy isn’t worth it. However, here is a scenario to put it into perspective. Car insurance policies will only cover so much and you can’t purchase any more than their highest limit. Therefore, the only way to get extra coverage is to go for an umbrella policy. When personal injury cases are presented, aspects such as lost wages, grief, etc. are covered outside of the cost of medical bills for the injury itself. Say you hit a doctor and he sues you for lost wages on top of everything else. You could be looking at a million-dollar payout for damages with your car insurance only covering $500,000 of that. If your insurance doesn’t cover it, the judge and jury won’t care. You will still have to find a way to put the leftover damages amount. This can result in garnered wages, loss of property, home, other belongings, and more.
Umbrella policies aren’t necessary or required by law. However, they can prove to be quite the backup in such a sue-happy world. Umbrella policies commonly can be purchased in one million increments for up to five million in coverage.
Workers compensation requirements began early in the 20th in the United States. Every business in the United States that involves employee has to consider a workers compensation policy. Most states require employers to purchase an insurance policy to handle their obligation towards workers who are injured or due to workplace exposure.
Before the policy and insurance, workers who’d been injured or made ill on the job had to take legal action against their employers. Results were horrible since system simultaneously made it difficult for workers to obtain compensation for such injuries and exposure of employers to potentially devastating financial penalties.
Modern Compensation Insurance
Workers compensation is an insurance program set up to provide workers who were injured on the job benefits to make up for lost wages while they’re out taking care of their injury.
Some of the areas which Compensation insurance covers:
- Injuries caused at work, like repetitive motion injuries
- Injuries or loss of limbs
- Medical treatment
- Illnesses, like emphysema
- Rehabilitation needed so employees can return to work
- Lost wages (up to two-thirds of the employee’s salary)
- Liability insurance for the company for lawsuits filed by injured employees
This might look like an annoying business expense. But offering workers compensation can protect you from litigation if an employee becomes injured or sick as a result of the job. Every state but Texas requires companies to carry workers compensation insurance- either through a private insurer or the state or, the business can elect to be self-insured. The cost for workers compensation insurance depends on the industry and the provider(high-risk jobs like construction and roofing have premiums). The company’s premiums can either increase or decrease depending on the number of claims filed.
Business owners can reduce claims and lower premiums by:
Offering safety gear, accessing the safety of the work environment, providing friendly office equipment, creating a safe work environment by training all employees on workplace safety, offering updates and tips on workplace safety, getting injured employees back to work faster, Developing wellness program to encourage healthy living and fitness, which should reduce the number of employees injured on the job.
Cons and Myths
Once the worker’s compensation has been paid, it’s over with the employer responsibilities. Staying in close contact with your employee, during the recovery phase, as a business owner you can better gauge when the employee can go back to work. Only larger business are required to carry workers compensation insurance. Not True. In many states, a company needs to have one employee to meet the requirement for workers compensation.
Type of business can also be determining factor. In Missouri, the law states that the minimum of five employees is required for minimum coverage, but if that company is in the construction industry, the minimum is one employee. Compensation fraud is not that common. Studies have shown that only 1 to 2 percent of claims are fraudulent. Insurance companies often fuel media claims.
The national price tag is around $1.2 billion annually for Compensation Insurance.
Knowing your niche and understanding every part of it will save you time and money. Here is a useful guide that can help you knowing should you buy property damage insurance.
For example, if you are in a client’s house and spill something on the carpet, then any claim against you could be covered by having property damage insurance. There where cases, where painter spill a few drops of paint on a carpet but the carpet was a piece from Harrods and the claim, was settled for over $130 000! So property damage insurance covers explicitly accidental damage to property.
What professions need property damage insurance?
Property damage can be significant in a variety of professions. Smallest mistakes can lead to big claims so if you’re a waiter or construction worker; many jobs have a requirement to provide the evidence of liability insurance as part of the qualification process. So it means that before you start a job, especially on government contracts you will have to include liability insurance before you take further participation in the role.
How property damage insurance work?
When you buy property insurance, the insurance company can provide the coverage for computers, supplies, inventory, offices and other property against damage. Sometimes, property insurance covers specific events outlined in your policy. Common covered events include:
- Acts of vandalism
- Weather accidents
Example – let’s say a fire burn down a non-profit computer company. The company lost thousands of dollars worth of equipment. Besides, they must repair the building, furniture, etc. A property Insurance policy covers all of these expenses. As a small business owner, you might qualify for a lower Property Insurance rate if you purchase this policy together with General Liability Insurance. This insurance bundle is called a Business Owner’s Policy.
Property damage insurance vs. Property Damage liability and differences
Property Insurance covers the stuff your business owns or replace damaged items after a covered event. Liability Insurance Covers the expenses that result when things you do cost someone money. Lawsuits are standard, so you go to trial or settle the dispute out of court.
How do I Buy property damage insurance?
There is a small chance that you will find property damage insurance as a separate cover then public liability insurance. Your public liability insurance will also cover accidental injuries to both your clients and third parties, which can be just as likely as damage to property.
How is Property Damage Liability Structured?
Your limit is a dollar amount that represents the maximum amount of property damage your insurance policy will cover. It means that if you have $40,000 coverage limit, your policy will cover that amount and you will cover the rest.
The benefits of additional property damage liability Coverage:
Purchasing a higher limit of property injury liability insurance will protect your future earnings and established assets. If you accidentally go over your limit, the liability coverage may not be enough to cover the total amount of damage.
“Putting your teen in a big, boring vehicle is going to be a lot easier on the wallet than giving them the zippy small car they may want,” says Russ Rader, spokesperson for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
So, adding a teenage driver to your car insurance bundle will raise your rates, but you can control how much will they climb. Teenagers cost more to insure, and there is a reason for that! Usually, new drivers are one of the most dangerous drivers on the road, at rates several times the scale of the average driver.
Ensure your teen driver!
You should ensure all family members in the household, whether they drive your cars or not. I don’t have full custody of your child, consult insurance company. Companies have different policies regarding ensuring a teen as a single parent. Best way to approach this is that the parent with primary custody adds the new driver. A minor cannot own a property or sign contracts, without a parent’s signature or consent.
The average car insurance rate for a 16-year-old who has his or her policy is as follows, per year:
- State minimum coverage: $2,593
- Liability limits of 50/100/50: $2, 957
- Full coverage: $6,930
It’s better and cheaper to add teenagers to an existing policy than to exclude them, and then buy an additional car and ensure it, says consumer analyst Penny Gusner.
Think about choosing a car you can ensure at low cost
If you have a couple of cars, it can be resourceful to have your new driver assigned to a specific one, the one that’s cheapest to insure. When choosing a car, you should start with IIHS’s, which lists insurance losses by make and model for vehicles built before 2010. The vehicles with lower auto insurance losses will typically have lower auto insurance rates while providing more protection if the crash occurs.
“Bigger, faster engine costs more money to insure and more money to repair,” says June Walbert, a Certified Finacial Planner for USAA.
Having a car with a powerful engine can be a temptation to a young mind(And sometimes for an even older one), and you will probably use that kind of power. She recommends four-door sedans and crossover vehicles. Don’t overlook car Insurance discounts.
Check with the insurer to see what types of discounts for teenagers might be available.
The nationwide study done in 2010 of almost 2000 parents of teens between the ages of 15 and 19 found auto insurance costs soared an average of $800 a year just by adding a teenager to their policy.
There are good-student discounts to teens who maintain at least a “B” average. If your teen is old enough to go to college and doesn’t have a car. You’re likely to get a break on our auto insurance. That’s because the teen isn’t a regular operator. Several insurance companies offer digital monitoring devices to keep an eye on tour teen’s driving behavior.
Depending on the system installed, it might monitor specific specified behaviors like seat belt usage, speeding, hard braking, cornering and arrival and departure times.