When you’re in an injury accident, the last thing you want to deal with is a battle with the insurance company. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what many people have to go through—whether it’s their own insurance company or that of the other driver. While insurance companies go to great lengths to tout their trustworthiness, the sad fact is that they only pay claims because they legally have to—not because they want to. They will do whatever they can to pay as little as possible. And they’re not above tricking you into accepting less than you deserve or, worse, denying your claim completely.
Insurance companies are notorious for using a variety of tricks to reduce or deny claims. If you know what these tricks are, you can prepare yourself and make sure that you don’t get taken advantage of. Let’s look at five common tricks insurance companies try to use against claimants.
Trick #1: Delaying the Claims Process
This tactic is quite common. They conveniently fail to return your calls, and when they do talk to you, they may try to confuse you with paperwork or legal jargon. They tell you, “These things take time.” The purpose for dragging their feet here is two-fold. They’re hoping that 1) you’ll get impatient to settle, or that you’ll simply give up; or 2) they’re giving enough time for the bill collectors to start harassing you for payment, so you’re pressured to settle faster. In either case, it’s a manipulation to get you to accept less money.
Trick # 2: Acting Like They Care About You
Don’t be fooled by this one. The insurance agent or adjuster may call you frequently to “check up on you” and express empathy. But make no mistake—this is not a friendly call. They are trying to act like your friend, so you let your guard down and trust them. Once they have gained your trust, they will start asking you questions that are designed to trip you up or get you to say something that they can use against you to reduce your claim.
Trick # 3: Offering a Quick or Simple Settlement
This one is particularly deceiving because it seems like a good thing: the insurance company seems eager to settle, and they’re offering you a quick settlement that seems to be fair. But what they’re really doing here is lowballing you with an offer that’s far below what your claim is worth. If you accept it, you’ll likely end up getting a lot less money than you deserve. The first offer is seldom fair, and you should be highly suspicious of quick offers because it usually means the insurance company knows something you don’t know about how much money you should get—and they’re trying to settle the claim before you find out.
Trick #4: Using Your Words Against You or Out of Context
This trick is particularly underhanded because it’s legal. The insurance company may take statements you made to them out of context or construe them against you in ways you didn’t mean. They may twist your words to make it sound like you’re admitting partial responsibility for the accident as a way of reducing your claim. (This is why you should never talk to the insurance company without an attorney involved.)
Trick #5: Discouraging You From Contacting a Lawyer
“This is a simple case.”
“We’re here to work with you.”
“Why hire an attorney who is just going to charge you more fees?”
“It will only delay the process.”
Beware of these statements—they’re not made in good faith. Insurance companies would rather negotiate with you directly because they believe they can convince you to take less money. The truth is a good lawyer can help you get the most money possible from your claim and can make sure that the insurance company doesn’t take advantage of you. Hiring an attorney usually results in a much higher settlement—one that more than covers any attorney fees you’d incur. (Plus, when the attorney is paid on a contingency basis, you don’t pay them anything unless they win.)
At the Law Firm of Weir and Kestner, we are passionate about helping our Tennessee clients avoid these and other common insurance company tricks—and as former insurance company attorneys ourselves, we know these tricks better than most. We fight hard to get you the full settlement you deserve. Fill out our contact form today to schedule a free consultation.