Insurance companies can be quite devious when it comes to avoiding paying what they owe you in full following a car accident. There are many tricks that they use, making it impossible to list them all here, but here are 10 red flags to alert you to your insurance company’s malicious intent:
1. “This call is being monitored for training and quality control purposes”
When you hear this message on a call, it’s nothing more than a ruse in order for the insurance company to have “implied consent” from you. In other words, if you don’t explicitly object to a phone call being recorded, then it means that the insurance company can use the content of the call against you if it sees fit to do so.
When the call is connected, the insurance company’s representative will ask you a series of questions that seem innocent enough at first glance but are actually designed to entrap you into making mistakes. These mistakes will be exploited by the insurance company at a later stage, giving it ammunition to defend itself against paying out your claim. Decline to be monitored if they want to talk to you.
2. You’re asked to provide the company with a recorded statement
The aforementioned point details how your insurance company might try to get one over you surreptitiously, but this one concerns you being asked to provide a recorded statement because it “needs” it, or it is “required”. You should know that you are under no legal obligation to do this.
In fact, you should take such a request as a crystal-clear indication that the insurance company is looking for a way of getting out of paying your claim. Such a request is actually part of the implementation of the plan or decision not to pay you out, and any recorded statement that the insurance gets its hands on could actually hurt your case in the long run.
3. The police refused to respond to the accident
Sadly, police refusing to come to the scene of an accident and write up a proper report is an all-too-common occurrence all over the world. If this happens to you, then you should know that you are at substantial risk of the insurance company of the individual that caused the accident not paying out your claim.
It’s possible that the insurance company will create a situation with the responsible party so it ends up being your word against theirs. If there’s no police report, an admission of guilt by the responsible party will often be denied at a later stage, shifting the blame for the accident onto you or another party. If no police report was written up at the scene of your accident, you should seek legal counsel immediately.
4. You’re told that your claim is being “investigated”
This isn’t so much of a warning as it is a clear statement of intent from the insurance company that it’s looking to find a way out of paying you what you are due. If you’re told that your case is being “investigated” verbally, or you receive a letter to the same effect, you should seek legal counsel immediately.
5. You’re informed that the repair shop is using aftermarket parts
Aftermarket parts on cars are generally cheaper than the equivalent manufacturer specification parts used for your car, but they’re often nowhere near as high-quality. Not only does their use put you at risk of a catastrophic failure of some sort in the future (depending on which parts are being replaced), but you will also have little to no recourse over the insurance company if the worst does happen somewhere down the line.
If you do get wind of aftermarket parts being used in order to fix your car, you should demand that exclusively manufacturer-specification parts are used in the repair, and take it as a clear indication that the insurance company is doing everything in its power to deny you what you are rightly owed.
6. An “independent” appraisal company is appointed to value your car
Should the insurance company inform you that an “independent” appraisal company is getting involved in the valuation of your car, you have grave cause for concern, because their “independence” might be just a sham. For all you know, the appraisal and insurance companies could have closer ties than you ever imagined.
The way they will try to take advantage in this particular regard is by underestimating the total value of the repairs after an appraisal on the damage has been conducted, with the aim of obliging the insurance company to pay out as little money as possible.
If you have suspicions that things are going to pan out in this way, get in touch with an experienced lawyer who will be able to look at an appraisal that’s been conducted and point out places where repairs have been undervalued or even ignored. Most personal injury lawyers will even perform this service free of charge.
7. The amount it owes you for any injury is calculated by a computer
Similar to the point above, yet another ruse that insurance companies employ in order to pay out as little as possible for a claim is to use a computer to calculate the claim’s value. You might not even know if this is being done, but you can always ask it directly and see the sort of reply that you get back.
Furthermore, you can always ask to have a written statement prepared, stating unequivocally that a computer was not used at all during the appraisal process. This will avert the insurance company from being able to take complete control over the payment they make to you.
Computers should be used to store the relevant items of personal information in such an instance, and for nothing else. Should any other part of the claim process involve computers, take it as an indication that the insurance company is willing to engage in nefarious practices and is not to be trusted.
8. You’ve been asked to sign forms giving it access to your private records
You should always be wary of any requests by an insurance company to have access to your private records, and this is because it will give its corporate lawyers license to snoop around in areas of your life that they have absolutely no business in doing so.
Do not sign any pre-printed authorizations from the insurance company unless you are 100% certain about what they entail, what effect they can have on your standing, and what is the scope and duration of their usage. A personal injury lawyer can give you advice concerning the use of any such documents as part of an initial consultation concerning your claim.
9. It refuses to issue an advance payment for medical bills or lost wages
In the event that you’ve incurred medical bills or had to take time off work due to an injury sustained in an accident that was someone else’s fault, you’re likely to need an advance payment to make up the resulting financial shortfall. If the insurance company refuses to issue a check for the expenses you’ve already incurred, then take it as a clear sign that they’re going to try and get out paying you.
Although its representatives may come to you with excuses in regard to why they can’t cover your expenses, there’s absolutely no legal reason for them to refuse to make a payment to you. All you need to show them is your medical bill or pay-stub for them to authorize a payment. If the insurance company looks like it’s going to start messing you around from the outset, make sure you’ve got a good attorney on speed-dial.
10. There’s a refusal to approve medical treatment and set up billing with your treating doctor
If you’ve been injured in an accident, you will have to pay the medical bills that you incur at your treating doctor. As a result, the insurance company shouldn’t have any issues with setting up a billing and payment system with him or her.
Delaying tactics or even an outright refusal by the insurance company to do this so that your bills can go directly to it are yet again major red flags. If this happens to you, you should at least consult with an attorney. Depending on how they advise you and your particular circumstances, you might want to consider retaining them until the matter is resolved.
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