The Insurance Company Run-Around

The first thing to keep in mind about insurance companies is that they make their money by investing. This explains why they love delay. When they can delay paying you the compensation you’re entitled to: · They can keep their money invested · It keeps earning them interest or profits · Increased income for a given year, more than was expected, makes the stock price rise · Increased stock prices lead to executive bonuses So from their point of view, all delay makes good sense, especially delay that will run to the end of a quarter or financial year. Insurance adjusters don’t work for you The same facts explain why insurance companies usually make a low offer, and usually make it quickly. · Immediately after an accident or injury, we tend to feel shocked or traumatized. Perhaps we’re not thinking clearly. We could be in pain, in hospital, even unconscious for a while. · If we can be persuaded in this vulnerable state to accept the insurance company’s initial offer, kudos to the adjuster. He’s just saved his company a lot of money. · Alternatively, the adjuster may be soothing and urge you to get all the medical care you need, it will all be covered, not to worry. Silently, the statute of limitations is running. Are you thinking about that in your hospital bed? Probably not, and much time may be lost that would be well-spent assembling facts and information for your claim. · Adjusters can be quite pleasant people, and they’ll be polite to you and appear to have your interests at heart. However, they don’t work for you. They work for their company and their job is to conserve the company’s money. An experienced personal injury lawyer would be invaluable at this point. Before you accept any offers or sign any documents, it’s a good idea to consult an attorney, so as to avoid falling into any traps. The attorney can negotiate for you and obtain a better settlement amount. If necessary, the attorney can take the matter to trial, present expert witnesses, argue why you deserve more, and very often win. Your agent and your policy If you bought your policy from an insurance agent, and if there’s a discrepancy between what the agent promised and what actually shows up in the policy, the company is legally obliged to interpret it as being in your favor, rather than in theirs. · Agents are trained by their company, but they usually aren’t experts on the small print. They’re taught enough so they can paint a glowing picture for you, but the all-important details are a minor matter. · You might have paid for the policy before you actually received it. So what you’re actually buying is what the agent has described, not the piece of paper you eventually receive in the mail. A personal injury attorney can read the small print of your policy and pinpoint any unclear or ambiguous items. If you made notes during your initial session(s) with the agent, the lawyer can compare your notes with what’s actually in the policy. Then he or she can follow up with correspondence and negotiations to obtain the full settlement you deserve. Prompt Pay laws Like many states, Michigan has a prompt-pay law that requires payment of our doctors’ claims to be made without undue delay (usually around 30 to 45 days, or less than that when the claim is filed electronically). But insurance companies have ways of avoiding this. They can: · Find flaws in the way paperwork was filled out · Quibble over exceptions in the fine print · Claim that they’ve hired another party to pay the claim, and it’s that person’s responsibility · Ask for more verification of injuries What does this add up to? More delay.

Equip Yourself – What if You’re in an Accident with an Uninsured Motorist? Buying auto insurance is not a festive occasion for most of us. We’re paying good money for something we aren’t sure we’ll ever need. But the law requires us to have a minimum amount of it, so we comply, maybe with a scowl. But picture the situation you’d be in if you’re rear-ended by someone, sustaining severe injuries and much vehicle damage, and you discover that this other driver has no insurance. Or that they have only the minimum insurance, which comes nowhere near being able to pay for your injuries. No-fault insurance Michigan has been a “no-fault” state since 1973. We’re all required to buy no-fault insurance and in fact, it’s required before we can get our license plate. It’s illegal to drive without it, or to let someone else drive your vehicle without it. Michigan law requires us to buy, in certain minimum amounts: · Personal Injury Protection (PIP) – to cover the cost of any injuries you sustain in an auto accident, and your lost wages for 3 years (with a cap) · Property Protection Insurance (PPI) – to cover the cost of any vehicle repair after that accident · Residual Liability – to cover you when your negligence causes injury to someone else If you’re still paying for your vehicle, your insurance company may also require you to buy two other items to cover the cost of repairing or replacing your car: · Collision, and · Comprehensive. The advantage of no-fault insurance is that it simplifies things and potentially speeds up the repair of your vehicle. Your insurance pays your injury and repair bills, and the other driver’s insurance pays his. It protects us from being sued. Michigan is not 100% no-fault No state is 100% no-fault. Michigan is a mix of no-fault and standard liability insurance. In other words, there are exceptions to the no-fault default. If the accident: · Happens outside Michigan, or · Causes serious injury or death, then the at-fault driver can be sued for damages, if he has insurance. Uninsured and under-insured motorist (UM and UIM) coverage Michigan doesn’t require us to buy UM or UIM coverage. It’s our choice, and it’s an added expense on the premium, so many of us don’t buy it. And in a no-fault state, the assumption is that our own insurance will pay our bills anyway, so why do we need UM or UIM coverage? But let’s think again of that driver who rear-ended you. You have severe injuries – whiplash, and maybe the airbag hit you too hard, maybe you hit your head on the glass – and you have expensive vehicle repair bills (a rear-end accident can even total your vehicle if it knocks the chassis out of shape). You can sue the other driver if you can prove that he/she caused the accident. But if he has no insurance, chances are that you won’t be able to get any compensation. However, if that driver is under-insured, you can potentially get compensation to the value of their insurance, such as it is. Advantage of UM and UIM But your bills total a higher amount than that. If you have no UM or UIM, you have no other recourse and will have to pay the bills out of your pocket. But let’s say you did buy UM and UIM along with your required coverage. Now you can potentially obtain compensation from your insurance company up to the value of your UM/UIM, as well as recovering from the under-insured driver. Hit and run accidents Looking at our rear-end scenario again, if the other driver takes off before you can get any contact information from him, that leaves you with only your own insurance as a source of compensation. If you’ve bought UM and UIM, you have more coverage than just the PIP and PPI. Enhance your changes with legal help If you’ve been in an accident with another driver who turns out to be uninsured or under-insured, the smartest thing to do is immediately consult an experienced accident attorney. The law is complex; there are exceptions to the no-fault law, and every situation is different. Some sound legal advice can help you decide on what course of action to take. You could well be eligible for more compensation than you think.

An experienced personal injury lawyer has ways of cutting through delay tactics. Rather than struggle alone against some faceless Goliath, why not call or email one today?

Frustrations with the insurance company could lead to unfair settlements. Don’t settle for less because you’re tired of the run around. Let an attorney help you.

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