Dirty Dozen Myths about your insurance company

Think your insurance company exists in order to pay your claim when you have been injured?

NOPE, THINK AGAIN!

It is a common misconception that insurance companies exist in order to pay out claims when their customers are injured. In fact, insurance companies are set up for the opposite reason – to not pay. Contact The Law Office of Janelle Bailey before you make a mistake that could do irreparable harm to your injury case.

Making Nice

Myth 1: My Insurance Adjuster is being nice because he/she cares about me.

Insurance representatives (often called adjusters) are trained to be nice to injury victims who don’t have attorneys. Insurance company studies show that people treated in a friendly way are more likely not to hire lawyers. Studies show that injury victims without lawyers settle their claims for much smaller amounts. So if you don’t have a lawyer, don’t be surprised that your insurance adjuster calls frequently to ask about your medical treatment. Don’t be surprised if they seem kind and deeply concerned about your welfare. But don’t believe they have your best interests in mind. And remember, during every conversation your insurance adjuster will be taking notes, and what you say may be used against you later.


Additional Helpful Information

Myth 2: My Insurance Adjuster is requesting additional information in order to help me.

Insurance companies have many excuses not to settle meritorious cases. One excuse is that their file isn’t “complete.” In other words, they want every record, every bill, every piece of paper concerning your case before they will evaluate it for settlement. Often they want documents having nothing to do with your injury, including old medical records from long ago. They are looking for information to deny your claim or reduce the amount of the settlement.


Delaying Settlement

Myth 3: My settlement is being postponed due to insurance adjuster’s heavy workload, or vacation, or ….

By holding onto your settlement money, the insurance company earns interest on that money. So delay is to its advantage. Early in the case, the insurance company may claim it doesn’t have all the medical records. In the middle of the case, the insurance company will insist that you be evaluated by a doctor they choose. At the end of the case, if it goes to court, the insurance company will refuse to settle until the case is scheduled for trial. Delay is usually in their interests.


Dictating Medical Treatment

Myth 4: It is okay for the insurance company to have a say in my medical treatment.

The other side’s insurance company will contest the amount of treatment you had. Sometimes they will claim you received “too much” treatment for your injuries, or that the treatment was “unnecessary.” Many insurance companies use computer programs to “prove” that you over-treated or that you should have recovered more completely than you have. On the other hand, if you don’t pursue regular treatment, the insurance company will argue this pattern proves you weren’t seriously injured in the first place.


Denying Coverage

Myth 5: I’m not covered for my injuries.

Until a lawsuit is filed, many insurance companies refuse to disclose the amounts of their policies. And if they finally reveal the amount of the policy, they’ll neglect to disclose an excess or “umbrella” policy with additional coverage.


Offering a Quick Settlement

Myth 6: My insurance adjuster is so concerned about my wellbeing that he/she offered me a quick settlement to help me get back on my feet faster.

Although you may be enticed by an upfront offer immediately after your accident, you may have sustained injuries that are not visible or immediately obvious. If you medical treatment is not complete by the time your accept your settlement, you may incur more bills and expenses than your quick settlement covers. Seek full compensation for all your injuries with a lawyer.


Private Investigator

Myth 7: My insurance company would never spy on me.

You should always be aware that you may be under surveillance. An insurance company or other interested party may follow you and videotape you in the hopes of proving you are exaggerating or misrepresenting your injury. This is legal and the insurance investigator is loyal to the insurance company, not to you. This person’s job is to prove whether or not your claim is legitimate.


Recording Your Statements

Myth 8: Insurance companies record statements to ensure that we both have an accurate recollection of what happened.

By asking key questions about the circumstances of the loss, you may admit to something that would allow the insurance company to either deny your claim or substantially reduce the benefits you receive. The insurance company will want you to be as detailed as possible in the recorded statement. Months later, when your memory may have faded, you may be called upon to once again answer the same set of questions. If you do not answer these questions exactly as you did in the recorded statement, the insurance company may try to make you look dishonest. Claims adjusters are notorious for taking things out of context. Never agree to this without an attorney’s approval.


Not needing a lawyer

Myth 9: It would be better, easier, and quicker to handle my claim without a lawyer.

Insurance companies know that victims who hire experienced lawyers can negotiate more favorable settlements. Don’t fall for this trick. An experienced personal injury lawyer knows how to build your case, how to negotiate your case with an insurance company, and, if necessary, how to take your case to trial. While it is possible to negotiate your claim with an insurance company yourself, insurance companies will typically do everything they can to take advantage of you and to effect the lowest possible settlement, while attempting to elicit statements from you that will damage your position if you ultimately decide to sue.


Medical release form

Myth 10: My insurance company would like to review my medical history so that they can help me more effectively.

This is a sneaky way for insurance companies to try and discredit the connection between your injuries and the accident. Do not sign anything without consulting an attorney first. They will scour your medical record in an attempt to find “prior conditions” and then attribute those “prior conditions” to your current injuries and denying you coverage.


Social Media

Myth 11: My insurance company would never search my Facebook page.

A new tactic in the age of the Internet is to follow accident victims on social media. Insurance companies want to see if you talk about your accident on social media, particularly if you say something that could suggest you have some degree of liability. The insurance company also wants to see if you appear to be engaging in activities that you should not be able to given the extent of your injuries. So, photos and videos of you out partying or participating in sports, work, or other physical activity that should be prohibited by your injuries could impair your claim. This is true even if there is a logical explanation, such as posing for a staged photo, relying heavily on pain killers, etc.


Enticing you to admit fault

Myth 12: My insurance company would never trick me into admitting fault.

A major reason for not giving a statement is that your words can be twisted. A polite statement of regret that an accident happened, for example saying simply, “I am sorry about the accident,” can be turned into an admission of fault. Be sure to contact your lawyer prior to talking to your insurance company to ensure your words are not misconstrued.

Top Ten Worst Insurance Companies

The American Association of Justice (AAJ) has named the ten worst insurance companies in America based on claim denials, premium increases and refusing insurance to those who need it most. So, who’s on the list? Some of the names – and what they did to make the list – might surprise you.

1. Allstate

According to the American Association for Justice’s report:

Allstate agents were told to lie to customers and were often rewarded with prizes for keeping claim payments low.”

2. Unum

Customers posted the following on unum’s website:

“I got denied for short term without much explanation. They have dragged out the appeal process by saying they never received information. They have also denied two other people that work with me. They are quick to take your money but not give it back!!!”
“They will do anything they can not to pay your claim.”

3. AIG

According to the American Association for Justice’s report:

AIG has been using a variety of tricks to delay claims or deny them altogether, including keeping claim payment checks locked in a safe until the claimant complained, disposing of correspondence during pizza parties and fighting mundane insurance claims in court for years unnecessarily.

4. StateFarm

A customer posted the following on StateFarm website:

“In over 20 years with State Farm, we only had one claim. [They] would not settle [a] claim on a car accident. We were not cited for [the] accident, but [the] State Farm adjuster was rude, harassing and flat out refused to pay claim. [The adjuster] told us, ‘Don’t bother suing, because you won’t win.’ We will definitely cancel our policies.”

5. Conseco_Logo

According to the American Association for Justice’s report:

Conseco has been accused of taking advantage of elderly policyholders who can’t care for themselves or fight back to receive their valid long term care benefits by delaying and denying claims.

6. wellpoint-logo

According to the American Association for Justice’s report:

WellPoint has been accused of not paying doctors that treat its policyholders on-time or for paying them less than the amount in which they’ve billed. Nearly 800,000 doctors have filed grievances against WellPoint and other insurers over these practices.

“[I’m] still trying to get them to pay claims it has been 4 months.” – WellPoint customer

7. Farmers

According to the American Association of Justice’s report:

Farmers has been accused of providing its employees with incentives such as gift certificates and pizza parties for keeping claim payments low and dissuading angry policyholders from contacting attorneys.

8. UnitedHealth

According to the American Association of Justice’s report:

Several state insurance departments have fined UnitedHealth for wrongfully denying and delaying claim payments to policyholders and to the doctors that treat them. In fact, the American Medical Association (AMA) filed a lawsuit against the insurer for its reimbursement rates.

9. Torchmark

A customer posted the following comments about Torchmark and its subsidiaries:

They misled us about the coverage and were overall very unhelpful. The amount that was covered was actually surprisingly limited. I would not recommend them to anybody. Regardless of their decent price… pay more to get better coverage. – referring to United American Insurance Company.

10. LibertyMutual

Customers posted the following comments about Liberty Mutual and its subsidiaries:

Dealing with Liberty Mutual Insurance has been one of the most unpleasant experiences I ever had. You can pay your premiums every year but do not attempt to file a claim! You get no assistance whatsoever from their claim’s people. Buy insurance from them at your own risk– a terrible company.