Suffering an injury in an automobile accident caused by a negligent driver is terrible but the situation can be made worse by insurance companies. Unfortunately, too many insurers tend to put their profit before people and act in bad faith in order to minimize the compensation that is owed to you.
The Houston car accident attorneys at Lapeze & Johns can help to protect your interests and ensure that you are treated well by your insurer. We strive to help you avoid any dilemmas that may arise, especially during your time of healing.
Being informed is one of the best ways to avoid being deceived by insurance companies. What follows are four major tactics insurance companies use to avoid paying out your benefits.
Bad Faith Insurance Tactics
1. Delaying your claim’s investigation.
In Texas, the statute of limitations that is applicable to a majority of claims is two (2) years. That means you have two years from the date of the accident to file a claim against the liable party.
At times, insurance companies will purposely delay their investigation into your claim for as long as they can in order to make you miss this time frame.
2. Contact you immediately after you have been in the accident.
Insurers will try to earn your trust in any way possible in order to find ways to extract information that can be used against your claim. After an accident, you are probably unsure about the exact specifics of what happened, who was at fault, and other details that are crucial to your claim.
It is wise to stay alert and suspicious of insurers who call you immediately after you have been in an accident – especially those who try to discuss your claim early on!
3. Insisting that legal representation is not necessary.
After earning your trust, an insurance agent will try their best to assure and convince you that legal counsel is not required or necessary in your claim – especially when trying to figure out how much your settlement will be.
Insurers hope that they can win your trust so that you will not seek the legal counsel necessary for you to see what your claim is really worth and how you can receive the compensation that will benefit you.
4. Offering you a quick settlement in exchange for the release of your claim.
After suffering from an automobile accident, you have enough to think about – especially when it comes to finances. Vehicle repairs, fees for towing/maintenance, and so many other responsibilities that will be required after the accident will be on your mind, which is exactly why insurers take advantage of your needs in order to rush you into accepting a settlement.
Insurers will encourage you to take a quick settlement in exchange for your verbal/written release of the claim itself. The craftiest part about this tactic is that after you accept the settlement, you will not be allowed to pursue any additional compensation in the future – even if your medical condition gets worse.
Tips for Protecting Yourself Against Bad Faith Insurance Tactics
Now that you know the various ways in which insurers may try to trick you into lowering the value of your claim, here are three tips to protect yourself.
1. Keep everything in writing.
Calling people through the phone is a quick, convenient way to get in touch with companies without having to take time out of your day to visit their offices. Unfortunately, this convenient approach is one of the most dangerous modes of communication when dealing with insurance companies.
Many insurers will argue that some important facts of your case were false and might find ways to make you appear less credible, so make sure you keep paper records of all bills and letters that were written to you from the insurance company, as well as any other records you might have.
2. Never release recorded statements.
After earning your trust, the insurer might ask you to record what happened at the time of the accident and how your injuries were sustained. This statement, although seemingly harmless, can actually be used against you to devalue your claim and might be used in contexts that could implicate you instead of help you.
Before signing or recording anything for the insurance company, it is crucial to consult your attorney beforehand!
3. Make sure to have a personal injury attorney by your side.
Ignore insurers who tell you that legal aid is simply not important; seek reliable, knowledgeable legal counsel. It is crucial to have a dependable Houston attorney on your who understands the laws and most importantly, understands the tactics used by insurance companies.