4 Industry-Guarded Secrets on How to Handle a State Farm Car Accident Claim
Insurance companies function to make a profit. Monthly premiums supply the income, and the companies work to keep expenses to a minimum. This means they try to pay out the least amount possible on each claim filed. While they claim to be “like a good neighbor”, they are nothing like those you choose to spend time with. They put their own needs first at all times.
Fortunately, those who work with insurance companies regularly have caught on to the tricks they use to keep payments to victims down. They share this information with consumers so the average person receives fair treatment when they must deal with this company following an accident. Keep the following things in mind as you move forward with your claim.
Learn Which Adjuster Will Be Handling the Claim
Ask which State Farm adjuster will be responsible for overseeing your claim. This information tells you a great deal about the strength of your claim and how you should proceed. A team of adjusters handles certain accidents, and these claims typically aren’t valued correctly. The company views the claim as a low value or low-risk claim and will provide a lowball offer as a result.
All adjusters work to pay out the least amount possible, but team adjusters are at the bottom of the rung in terms of the authority they receive. They only present victims with low-ball offers. If the claim moves to a court of law, the insurance company assigns an individual adjuster. At this time, the amount offered typically increases, although this isn’t always the case.
State Farm Car Accident Claim Dispute
If there is a dispute regarding the value of the claim, speak to a public adjuster. These professionals assess the value of property loss for a policyholder and help file the insurance claim for a fee. They work for individuals or businesses rather than insurance companies and can be of great help when an adjuster continues to offer a low settlement amount.
Public adjusters understand insurance policies, the language used, and the details and nuances to be aware of. Most use software to provide an independent evaluation of the property loss and provide documentation that backs up the figures provided. When in doubt, hire a professional of this type to ensure you receive fair treatment at the hands of the insurance company.
Never Provide a Recorded Statement
Drivers involved in a car accident contact the insurance company to report the accident. At this time, the insurance company requests a recorded statement detailing the events surrounding the accident. Never let the adjuster tell you this statement is mandatory. They have other ways of obtaining the information needed to handle the claim.
The police report provides the facts regarding the accident, while medical records detail any injuries a person has suffered. The only purpose of the recorded statement is to try to trip the victim up so less money must be paid out.
Adjusters rarely ask open-ended questions and are trained to use questions that call for reflexive answers. For instance, they may ask how the person is feeling. When he or she gives a one-word answer, such as “fine” or “okay”, this response is then used to say the injuries aren’t as bad as the victim is claiming.
Most injuries aren’t fully apparent for a few days or weeks. The adjuster knows this and wants to back the victim into a corner by getting a recorded statement before they do. Simply decline to provide this statement to protect yourself and your accident claim.
In addition, during this phone conversation, the adjuster may offer a settlement. The goal is to pay out the lowest amount possible, and a person might be tempted to settle just to get the matter behind them. Doing so could be a mistake, as the injuries aren’t apparent yet.
Give it a few days, research the value of the claim, seek legal assistance if needed, and then determine what steps should be taken. Now is not the time to rush through the settlement process, as you never know what the future holds.
Avoid Extra Documentation
Insurance companies such as State Farm attempt to dig into a victim’s past to find anything they may use to justify reducing or denying a victim’s claim. For instance, they will request all medical records of a victim to see if they can find anything that would suggest the injuries are the result of a pre-existing condition rather than the accident.
Only hand over medical records directly related to the accident, such as records from the visit to the emergency room immediately following the accident. Any requests outside of this scope should be denied.
The victim determines which requests for medical records are reasonable. In the event the request seems reasonable, require the insurance company to pay any fees associated with the request. This burden should not fall on the victim.
When a request seems unreasonable, ask for more information as to why the records are needed. If the adjuster declines to answer or provides an answer that isn’t convincing, refuse to turn them over on the basis of privacy concerns.
Point out that the records can be requested again if and when the case goes to trial, and you will be happy to turn them over when asked to by the judge. This shows you are willing to protect your rights and take the case to court if needed.
Never sign an agreement stating the adjuster may directly obtain your medical records. Don’t give verbal permission for the adjuster to do so either. Retain control over your medical records at all times, as doing so is for your own protection. The same is true when it comes to your medical team. Never allow the adjuster to speak directly to the medical team. Have the doctor write a medical report and charge the insurance company for this document.
Be sure to include all bills related to the accident as well. Victims often assume insurance companies receive the medical bills related to a claim, add them up, and cut checks to the appropriate providers. Surprisingly, this is not how it works at all. Many insurance companies pay out what they call “usual and customary charges”. This does not mean State Farm does, but a victim cannot know which insurers use this method and which do not.
Insurance companies that use this method work with a team of medical professionals to determine how much a given treatment should cost in your area. They base the settlement on the amount decided during this conference and offer a settlement based on that figure. This means the victim may receive less compensation than is actually deserved if the figure provided by the team is less than the actual bills.
Denial or Delay of Payment
Medical bills quickly add up following a car accident. Insurance companies know this and often delay or deny payment in the hopes the victim will give up just to be done with the bill collectors. The victim pays the bills and the insurance company walks away with a much lower payout. Another tactic they use is to offer a low-ball settlement, one that barely covers the medical bills with a little extra. Their hope is that the victim will accept this amount simply to have the funds to clear the bills and be done with harassing phone calls and nasty letters.
Sadly, those injured in a car accident might find they are unable to work for an extended period of time due to the injuries they sustained. This adds to the pressure they are feeling to accept any settlement, as they must pay their mortgage or rent, put food on the table, and cover their other expenses. Insurance companies take advantage of this whenever they can.
The insurance company also works to deny liability on the part of the driver they insure. For instance, the insurer might state the plaintiff engaged in risky behavior and that contributed to the accident. The insurance company could also claim the plaintiff assumed the risk of an injury by engaging in that behavior and therefore is not entitled to any compensation.
Be aware that insurance companies do this to their own clients as well. When a person files a claim against their personal policy, the insurance company employs the same tactics. When dealing with your own insurance company, treat them as if they were insuring another party. Finally, don’t hesitate to challenge the adjuster’s assessment of the claim. You always have the right to do so.
Victims need to know they don’t have to accept any settlement offered by the insurance company. If a person feels they aren’t being treated fairly, legal advice should be sought. Personal injury lawyers can be of great help in fighting an insurance company and protecting the rights of the victim. The attorneys are familiar with the tactics used by insurance companies and how best to counteract them. They fight for you as you work to recover from the accident, so don’t hesitate to rely on them during a challenging time of life.