If your insurance company acts in bad faith—uses tactics to avoid fulfilling their contractual obligations—it’s probably time to consider finding an insurance bad faith attorney you can trust to handle your case. Insurance companies hold a reputation for having deep pockets and no qualms about stacking the cards when it comes to business practices. Unfortunately, that reputation is often proved accurate. But those who know their rights also understand the importance of protecting them—and what to look for to know if your insurance company is trying to take advantage of you.
As we discuss these common tactics, keep in mind that not every insurance company or adjuster (someone hired to review and make assessments on accident claims) is out to cheat you out of the compensation you deserve. That’s why it’s important to be aware of these underhanded maneuvers—to help you separate honest companies and adjusters from dishonest ones.
So what are the common tactics an insurance adjuster will use to reduce your claim? In the following text we will look at seven of the most common insurance company tricks and tacks seen by insurance bad faith attorneys: contacting you too soon after an injury, obtaining a recorded statement, manipulating your words, causing unnecessary delays, minimizing your injuries, conducting surveillance, and trying to keep a lawyer out of the picture.
Most commonly, these types of deceptive practices are seen by car accident victims who are working with their insurance companies after a wreck. If this is the case for you, be sure to speak with your car accident lawyer about any troubling insurance company behaviors that are preventing you from receiving compensation following an injury:
Calling You Immediately After the Accident
Following an auto wreck, most people are disoriented and upset for several days or longer. It’s not unusual, however, for an insurance adjuster to contact you within 24 hours after a car crash. This is problematic for several reasons. Firstly, during this time, most people are in pain, emotional, experiencing the effects of adrenaline, and may be taking prescription medications. All these factors can cloud one’s ability to think and communicate clearly and rationally. Secondly, in the first day or two after your injury, you are probably unable to give an accurate report of the extent of the damage. Delayed car accident injuries are extremely common, and insurance adjusters are well aware of this fact.
Taking a Recorded Statement
No matter what an insurance adjuster tells you, never give a recorded statement without speaking to your lawyer first. Taking a recorded statement is one of the most commonly-abused practices employed by insurance companies to reduce an injured party’s claim. The words in a recorded statement will go on record, even if you made a mistake, misunderstood a question, lacked information at the time of the recording, or later became aware of new facts, such a new diagnosis from your doctor. Once the insurance company has obtained your recorded statement, they can use it in any way they choose to validate the decisions they make about your claim.
Manipulating Your Words
We use words that don’t convey a literally-true meaning every day. “I’m starving.” “This is the best thing I’ve ever seen.” “It doesn’t matter.” And when someone asks how you are, it’s common for us to use vague and positively-inclined phrases like, “I’m fine,” “It’s ok,” “I’ll survive,” or “It’s not a big deal.” But if you say, “I’m fine” to an insurance adjuster, they may hear the words, “I’m not injured.” Most people would never consider that those simple euphemisms could cost them thousands of dollars in the compensation they need to recover after an accident. Insurance companies often dissect victim’s statements for words that can be manipulated. This tactic works, because we rarely consider that a harmless word choice could be twisted to completely undermine what we’re really trying to communicate.
Using Delay Strategies
There have been far too many cases in which car accident victims simply gave up their claims because the company took too long, dragged its feet, complicated simple processes, and intimidated the victim into thinking the process was just too long and too complex to pursue. Furthermore, insurance companies know full well the inordinate amount of expense that car accident victims have to deal with, and they use this fact to their own benefit. Sometimes, the claims process is delayed so much, and made so frustrating and exhausting by the company, that the accident victim is willing to settle for an unreasonably low amount.
Undervaluing Your Injury
An insurance adjuster can use several methods to cast doubt on the legitimacy of your injuries. One common technique is blaming a pre-existing condition for the injuries you sustained in an accident. To do this, an adjuster may ask you to sign a medical release so they can look at your medical files. It’s expected that an adjuster will need your accident-relevant medical records to process your claim. But an adjuster should never be given full access to your medical history so they can check for past conditions. If you suspect an insurance company is trying to use an unrelated past injury or illness to discredit your car accident injury, speak with your lawyer immediately.
Online and In-Person Surveillance
As disconcerting as it is to know, your insurance company may be watching you. Be aware that what you do and what you post online can be used against you. After an accident, you may be being photographed or recorded, and your online presence may be being monitored. If you engage in events that indicate you are well and healthy, post about an activity that is difficult to do with an injury, post a fact that contradicts an earlier statement you made, or provide any evidence that you are not attending your medical appointments, an adjuster gets evidence they can use to reduce your claim.
Convincing You That You Don’t Need a Lawyer
Negotiating with an insurance company is not something most people have much practice doing, but it is exactly what your lawyer was trained to do. Insurance companies know this, and they are eager to keep legal experts who are on the lookout for unethical practices out of the picture. If you need an expert in Biloxi to support you throughout your claim and fight to get you the compensation you deserve, reach out to our office to set up a free consultation.