If you've ever suffered from serious debt, pain, and anger after a car accident, if your insurance company has ever mistreated you, this blog is for you.
After suffering a serious back injury in an accident that was someone else's fault, a truck driver from Kentucky filed an uninsured motorist claim with his own insurer. What should have happened is a prompt and fair settlement of his claim. What actually happened was more than a year of harassment, evasion, and bad faith insurance practices.
Instead of paying the claim, the driver's insurance company accused him of speeding, which the police report and the engine's computer both proved wrong. Then the company hired an accident reconstruction expert to prove that it was the driver's fault, but the expert proved the driver wasn't at fault. Then the company demanded that he drive two hours out of his way to see the insurer's doctor, even though he had already seen more than 20 medical experts. On his way home, the driver and his wife realized they were being followed—the insurance company later testified that they hired a private investigator to tail the claimant.
Meanwhile, the driver was barely able to keep up with his medical care because he couldn't work. He and his wife remortgaged the house, burned through their savings, sold their farm equipment and hunting dogs, drained their son's college fund, and held multiple yard sales to stay afloat. On the verge of bankruptcy, the insurance company finally offered him a settlement worth one-tenth what his claim was worth.
Left without options, he accepted it. He later said the company "beat me down."
Why Adjusters Use Time Against You
Insurance companies used to be owned and maintained by their policyholders, a model that incentivized prompt and fair settlements. However, the insurance industry today is beholden to shareholders, who earn profits from the premiums collected by policyholders. In other words, insurance companies no longer serve policyholders—they just collect money from them.
According to the Insurance Information Institute, the insurance industry raked in $1.1 trillion in revenue throughout 2016. A decreasing percentage of the industry's revenue goes toward paying claimants, and an increasing percentage of the industry's profits come from "float," or interest earned on policyholder premiums. These are connected—the longer insurance companies hold onto money, the more profit they make. Insurance companies make billions of dollars annually from holding onto claims payments a little longer.
So, as you feel frustrated with your adjuster, remember they're not being incompetent—they're doing exactly what they're trained to to.
Why the Adjuster Isn’t Calling You Back
The reasons why insurance adjusters do not return your calls boil down to one simple motivator: money. By not calling you back, an adjuster knows that they are increasing the pressure on your financial stability. They understand that the longer it takes to call you back, the more likely you are to experience hardships (e.g. getting a replacement vehicle or affording the mounting cost of medical bills). Adjusters know that the longer they wait, the harder your life gets and the more desperate, stressed, and impatient you may become.
After repeatedly delaying your settlement, adjusters are hoping they will be able force you into accepting a low offer out of desperation. It’s simple—adjusters utilize their abundance of time because they know they have more of it than you.
How to Fight Back Against Insurance Bad Faith
Claimants will sometimes choose to file with their own insurance after being dodged by the other party’s provider. However, this option is frustrating because it will cost you more money up front (you'll need to pay your own deductible). If an accident was not your fault, you should not be required to pay for the mistakes of others out of your own pocket. This option is beneficial only if you need to relieve financial stress caused by the accident. Remember, you may be able to get your deductible back when your claim is finally settled with the opposite party’s insurance.
The quickest method of getting an adjuster to abandon their stalling tactics is to obtain the help of a car accident lawyer. Once you have legal representation, an adjuster will know that their one-sided power over your settlement is over. Importantly, you do not have to pay a personal injury lawyer until after a settlement is reached. This means that you get to turn the pressure back toward the insurance company with no immediate cost to you. Our lawyers can fight to help you achieve your maximum settlement and beat classic insurance company tactics.
The Pennsylvania car accident lawyers at Handler, Henning & Rosenberg believe that victims injured due to the negligence of an individual deserve to be financially compensated for their losses. Since 1922, we have fought for the well-being of our clients in the state of Pennsylvania. We are proud to have 100 years of victories and are ready to apply this experience to your case today. With our resources and experience, we can fight every tactic the insurance company will use to take money from you.