Insurance Company Secrets - What The Insurance Companies Don't Want you To Know
Not all insurance adjusters are mean and sneaky. But let's face it, insurance adjusters have a job to do. Here are some of their secret tactics you should know about. If you have a minor injury you may not need an attorney for your case, but it is still important that you understand "the system."
If you have been seriously injured, it is important you know these tactics and consult with an experienced Phoenix injury attorney. You only have one case, so it is important that you choose attorneys that meet both essential requirements: they are the right fit for you and your case, and they know the "game" that the insurance company or defendant will try to play to avoid having to pay fair compensation.
We always like to make sure we educate our clients and we hope this information helps you understand "the system." If you have any questions, feel free to call us. Although we are selective with the cases we take as we only handle serious injury and wrongful death cases, we are still happy to guide people who call us in the right direction and answer all their questions.
Insurance adjusters know that injury victims are usually in a financial pinch. For most people who have suffered serious injury, the lost income is devastating. Since our clients never had the chance to prepare or plan for the negligence of someone else, there is often a financial crises that can jeopardize the very basic needs everybody has. Even people who have health insurance and a spouse that is working will still be threatened with devastating financial harm, potential damaged credit, and other serious problems.
Defendants and insurance companies are sophisticated enough to know that the longer they delay, the more desperate the injured person will become. The more difficult life becomes and the more threatened the plaintiff is with the loss of a home, loss of a car, or difficulty paying utility and phone bills, the greater the chance that the injured person will just give up prematurely and settle the case for pennies of what they deserve and are entitled to under the law. Knowing how to speed the process up - and more than that, knowing what to expect and some methods of coping with the delay - greatly increase the chances that the one-time settlement or jury verdict will be a fair one.
To make delay even a bigger threat to the innocently injured person, it is the person who was hurt that is required to timely and properly file their documents or lose their case. The more delay in consulting with an attorney, the greater the chance that a deadline or witnesses and other evidence will be lost.
Request unnecessary information
When it comes time to settle the case, many insurance adjusters act as though they need that "one last piece" of documentation to finish their evaluation and make an offer to settle. Often times, this is just one more way to delay the case, or to go on some sort of "fishing" expedition hoping to find something that can cause your case harm when there is no reason to believe that any would exist. It is important to know that the injured person does not have to sign every medical release form presented to them, nor do they have to turn over every piece of information requested. Knowing what is reasonable and what is unreasonable - what the adjuster has a right to receive to do a complete analysis to do the job right as opposed to just being abusive - is vital. This determination often requires the experience of a skilled personal injury lawyer.
If the injured person does not know when to say "no" they will often find themselves encountering even greater abuse. We have seen insurance companies request documents that are 30 years old that have nothing to do with the injury that was suffered. These type of requests are baseless, and agreeing to the wrong ones can delay a worthwhile case.
Misrepresent Insurance Benefits
The insurance company does not have to tell you their policy limits in most cases. It is important that someone who has suffered a serious injury knows how to verify that the alleged insurance policy benefits are accurate. There are various methods to accomplish this, and while none are guaranteed methods of ascertaining the truth, the combination of having the adverse driver sign an affidavit, getting asset checks performed, checking insurance company documents, and getting certified copies of declaration of policy limits, or taking a depositions of the adverse driver on these issues can increase the chances of determining how much insurance money is available as compensation.
They act like your friend
Some of the adjusters out there are very nice. There is nothing evil or wrong with being an adjuster, and many are well-meaning people. While some will try to deceive a claimant, many will be honest in what they say. However, it is vital to remember that the insurance adjuster is not a "friend" and has a job to do that is against your best interests.
To over-simply their job, it is the adjuster's job to report to their supervisor that they settled your case for the least amount of money possible. What would happen if an adjuster agreed to pay everyone who was injured what the injured person thought was fair and reasonable? The adjuster would probably not keep his or her job very long.
If an adjuster comes to your house or promises to pay your future medical expenses, beware. This is often an empty promise that will never be followed-up upon, but will instead be used to trick you into thinking you are dealing with a company you can trust, only to later learn it was an attempt to prevent you from hiring the best injury attorney you could find for your case.
In truth, the tactic of using empty promises about making future payments is very successful. We have seen fair and reasonable people lose their rights by waiting to long and making too many mistakes - missing deadlines and failing to obtain evidence in a timely manner - all while waiting for that reasonable payment that never comes.
Ask you to sign forms
When an adjuster asks you to sign forms, it is sometimes done to gather information they have a reasonable right to see. However, these forms which require a claimant's signature sometimes cause that seriously injured individual to lose all of their rights, and other times lead to the collection of irrelevant information that the insurance company tries to use against you.
We almost never let our clients sign any of these forms. Why does the adjuster need you to sign these particular forms? Never sign any forms from an insurance company unless you have consulted with experienced lawyers. If you are considering signing forms ask the adjuster to put in writing why he wants the forms signed and what he plans on doing with the documentation. Ask them if they will sign something that the documentation will never be used against you in a deposition or at settlement. The adjuster will almost never agree to do that, as the adjuster is hoping to find information to use against you, even where you have done nothing wrong and were not the cause of the incident.
Ask for a recorded statement
Never give a recorded statement unless you are certain that skilled Arizona personal injury attorneys would support that decision. If you are even contemplating giving a recorded statement, ask the adjuster if you give a recorded statement will the adjuster give you a copy of the recorded statement that was taken of the party that caused the accident. Ask the adjuster to give you a copy of any witness statements that were taken. Even under those circumstances, giving a recorded statement is a bad idea.
The primary reason the insurance companies want a recorded statement is so that they can try to twist your words and use an honest statement against you at a later date. We know you may be thinking, "But I tell the truth." Good, you'd better tell the truth or no good lawyer will represent you and the jury will never believe you, if the case goes to trial. However, it is foolhardy to trust that they will not try to use the recorded statement any way they can, even to the point of taking things out of context. If the adjuster just wants to know what happened, why do they insist on a "recorded" statement, when a statement that is not recorded would provide them all the answers they want.
Tell you not to consult with an attorney
People tell us all the time the reason they let so much time go by after they were injured is because the adjuster told them they did not need to hire an attorney. It's important to consult with an attorney as soon as possible. It doesn't mean you need to hire an attorney or that your case even needs an attorney, but you should speak to an experienced lawyer to make sure you don't miss deadlines or give information to the insurance company that is unnecessary or likely to cause your case to end up in litigation.
Insurance companies spend millions of dollars just devising better ways to process claims so they are profitable. The insurance adjuster and the company he/she works for are the professionals. Expecting fair results when one side "does it professionally" and the injured party has never handled these claims for a living is a serious mistake that is potentially fatal to a valid injury claim. Allowing these - and other - tricks to work could take away the reimbursement of lost wages and medical expenses that can allow someone to get back on their feet after a terrible accident.