Dealing with someone else’s insurance company can be a daunting endeavor, especially when your claim is denied. When that happens, you don’t have any option but to pay up and move on, right?
With the proper legal support, there are a number of things you can do to address a claim that you feel was wrongfully denied. But don’t wait for the denial before you jump into action. Start protecting yourself before the claim is even filed.
There are two main benefits to having a good lawyer in your corner from the get-go. First, insurance companies are more likely to do things by the book and be committed to meeting your needs when a lawyer is involved. And second, if you try to negotiate a claim yourself and then contact a lawyer, it’s much harder to move the needle from where you left off. It’s like playing poker with someone who already knows your cards.
The Order of Operations
Let’s walk through a situation in which consulting with a lawyer could end up saving you tons of money on insurance claims. For our purposes, let’s use a car accident as an example. Here’s what you should do:
- Call the police. The first thing you should do when an accident occurs is call the police and file a report. Even if the other person seems amiable at first, you never know whether he’ll have a change of heart later on. It’s important to get the facts established as early as possible. Of course, you also need to seek medical attention at this time, if needed.
- Contact your own insurance company. It’s always a good idea to contact your insurance company promptly after an accident to jumpstart the process of getting your car repaired or initiating the medical coverage, if applicable. Even if the accident is your fault, you need to let your insurance company know right away so it can be prepared to provide a lawyer for your defense in the event that you’re sued.
- Contact the other driver’s insurance company. This is where you need to be careful, especially if the accident isn’t your fault. I strongly recommend contacting a lawyer before speaking with the other driver’s insurance company. Lawyers know how much (or how little) you should share with insurance companies and the correct terminology to use.
In your first conversation with the other driver’s provider, refrain from estimating damages, discussing injuries, or providing anything beyond the essential facts. Accidents are extremely stressful, and these calls are almost always recorded. If you’re caught up in the moment and say something inaccurate or regrettable, it can (and most likely will) be used against you. For example, if you initially report that you’re uninjured but later discover that your adrenaline was masking a major injury, your subsequent medical claims could be denied.
Insurance Is a Frugal Business
If the other driver is at fault in your accident, his insurance will provide coverage for any damages it’s liable for, such as medical expenses, lost wages, and any pain and suffering you incur.
However, insurance companies will do everything they can to limit the amount of money they spend. This can be in the form of offering a reduced settlement (what I like to call a “consolation prize") or flat-out denying your claims altogether.
Perhaps the provider will try to say the accident occurred due to an “act of God" or some other extenuating circumstance that doesn’t receive coverage — like if someone other than the other driver (e.g., his child) were driving the vehicle at the time of the accident.
It’s in negotiating this “liability claim" that you’re at risk of getting sold short. Even if you receive some coverage in the form of a consolation prize, you don’t have to be satisfied with it. Remember: Insurance companies are frugal. There’s no “out of the goodness of our hearts" money. Don’t accept anything less than what you deserve.
The other insurance provider wants you out of its hair as quickly and cheaply as possible. You need the support of someone who knows the intricacies of insurance law and has experience negotiating fair settlements. Yes, lawyers aren’t cheap, but neither are medical bills. But by being proactive and getting some legal assistance on your side, you can make sure that a one-time accident doesn’t snowball into a financial disaster.
About the Author: Anthony Johnson is the founder and CEO of American Injury Attorney Group. American Injury Attorney Group is committed to raising awareness of potential claims for people harmed by dangerous drugs, defective metal-on-metal hip replacement devices, semi truck accidents, product recalls, and other personal injury cases caused by the negligence or fault of another. Prior to becoming an attorney, Anthony worked in SEO and web development, Internet startups, and finance.