Five Ways to Spot Bad Faith Insurance
Insurance is a multi-billion dollar industry in the United States. The law is on their side, requiring drivers who want to operate their vehicles legally to have at least a bare minimum of coverage. Insurers take in premiums, and invest them, turning consumer funds into larger and larger profits. When you’re in an accident, you expect your auto coverage to swing into action, mitigate the financial loss as required by law. That doesn’t always happen. Insurers have entire departments devoted to keeping payouts low and preserving the revenue stream. Sometimes, that means underhanded, even unlawful tactics to discourage claim filing – also known as ‘bad faith’ insurance. You could be the injured driver paying the price for an illegal claim denial, but how can you spot bad faith before you’re a victim? Like this:
1. Adjuster Not Returning Your Phone Calls
A popular strategy of a bad faith insurer is to duck all your incoming phone calls. This tactic makes it very difficult to get information you need about the status of your claim. The longer you wait to find out, the tougher it gets to pursue the matter with an attorney to force the insurer to pay what you’re owed. Even as the company is delaying the claim process, they’re collecting interest on the premiums you paid and earning more money.
2. Insurance Company Denying You’re Hurt
Denying your injuries relate to the crash is an all-too-common method of rejecting a valid claim. The insurance adjuster isn’t a doctor, but that doesn’t stop them from eyeballing your physical state and saying, “you don’t look hurt to me.” If you believe the adjuster, you could walk away from the compensation you desperately need to recover from the accident. Just because an insurance company employee says you don’t have a legitimate claim, doesn’t mean it’s true.
3. Lowball Settlement Offers Below Policy Limits
Insurance companies love saving money – it preserves revenue and leads to higher net profit. A lowball settlement offer is one that doesn’t meet the level of your financial losses in the accident and falls well below the limits of the relevant policy. An insurance company acting in bad faith might use this tactic as a ‘take it or leave it’ offer in a ploy to scare you into thinking you won’t be able to recover more. Fact is, an injured claimant who hires an attorney receives, on average, 3.5 times more in damages than a person who does not. If there’s a $100,000 limit on coverage, why take a $5,000 offer? You shouldn’t.
4. Money Promised, Never Delivered
Promising payment to settle a claim and then never delivering is a hallmark of a bad faith insurer. You could wait for weeks or months for a promised check to show up without ever receiving it. All the while, the statute of limitations on filing a personal injury claim ticks away, your rights dwindling by the minute.
5. Excessive Medical Examinations
Independent medical examinations or IMEs are famous in the world of personal injury law. Insurance companies schedule them to review claimant injuries with ‘neutral’ third-party doctors to get a clearer picture on the nature of their physical damage. The reality is these physicians receive payment from the insurance companies, and couldn’t be anything further from unbiased. You’re obligated to attend an IME and answer all questions truthfully, but you shouldn’t have to submit to repeat examinations at the request of the insurance company. This could be a bad faith tactic aimed squarely at delaying the claims process and reducing your compensation.