How To Deal With Insurance Providers
Dealing with insurance companies can be challenging and scary. We have compiled some important things for you to know before you start. For your convenience, we are breaking insurance into 2 topics. First and most important are the “rules” when dealing with insurance companies. Second, we will discuss the different types of insurance and how they work.
1. NEVER SETTLE YOUR CLAIM WITH THE INSURANCE COMPANY IN THE FIRST 3 WEEKS. It will take a while for all your symptoms to show up. If you settle too soon or before you have a chance to get checked by a doctor (and not just the ER), you may end up paying for your bills on your own. Some insurance companies will even come to you within a couple days of the accident to try to get you to settle for $500-1,000. Why, because once you sign off on the claim, you can not go back for more money if you find out you were hurt worse than you thought. 2. Wisconsin has a 3 year statute of limitations. That means that you have up to 3 years to settle your claim. However, be careful. If you go even 1 day past that, the insurance company does not have to pay a penny. If you are close to the deadline, then immediately call an attorney to have him “file suit” on your claim. This will give you more time by bypassing the deadline. Keep in mind, he has to have time to file the claim, so do not wait until the last week before the deadline. 3. Although it is important to have insurance, be careful what you say to them. A. NEVER lie. It will destroy all your future credibility. Your ability to maximize your recovery relies on your credibility. Once it is gone, they may not believe anything else you try to claim. B. The adjuster is not your friend. No matter how nice they are, their job is to minimize the claim and blame your injuries on anything else besides the accident. Although most try to be fair, they are still business to make money. Anything they pay out on a claim is less profit for the company. Keep in mind, anything you say may be used against you. Do not be tricked into a recorded statement. i. If you become a “Chatty Cathy,” and tell them all about all the falls you had as a child or how you have aches and pains from getting old, then, any of your symptoms become related to your old injuries. Just because you broke your arm when you were a child does not mean that the broken arm in the accident is related, unless you start to tell them it is. So, keep your mouth shut. ii. Don’t try to be “macho” and/or casually say that you are “OK,” because they will try to use that later and say that you reported that you were not hurt. Many people who had real injuries found themselves in a large battle with the insurance company because they said they were “OK” or “Fine” instead of saying that they are “sore, but getting better.” iii. Only discuss what happened in the accident and leave your injuries out of it. If you have an attorney, just tell them you have an attorney. Give them the name of the attorney and then stop talking to them. They attorney will handle it. 4. Your insurance claim will be broken down into 2 parts. Property damage and personal injury. A. The property damage will cover repairs to the car, building/property (if you hit something) and things broken in the accident. This part of the claim should settle quickly based on the value of the car and collecting receipts. You might dispute the value of the car if they come back with a really low number. If the accident was your fault, you will have to pay a deductable for the repairs on your car, or they may reduce the dollar amount by the deductible if the vehicle was totaled. One other thing you might want to ask for… depreciation on the car. With the advent of CarFax and other programs, a car that has been in and accident may not be worth as much as one that hasn’t. B. Personal injury is a payment for any of your medical treatment and other personal losses. (The legal term here is that they have to “Make You Whole.” This will include covering: i. Medical bills ii. Future medical bills (if you do not make a full recovery) iii. Mileage to and from the doctor’s office iv. Pain and suffering (which can be large depending on your injuries) v. Pain and suffering of family members (example: Loss of Consortium, which means that if your sex drive or ability to perform was affected, even though it might be embarrassing to talk about, you can get compensated). vi. Lost wages (past and future if you are not able to work at the same level or do the same things you could before the accident. vii. In the rare event, your insurance company wants to raise your premiums, you can ask the other driver’s insurance to pay for the difference in premiums for the next 5-10 years. (However, once the claim settles, feel free to shop around for a better company with lower premiums that does not raise your rates for an accident that was not your fault). vii. There may be other things specific to your case. You may want to consult with an attorney. 5. Do not be afraid to use your insurance. You paid a lot of money for coverage. You are entitled to get compensated. Insurance is basically a legal form of gambling. You bet a certain dollar amount each month that you might get into a car accident and it will cost you more than those premiums to fix you and the car. If you came out ahead, great. The insurance paid off. Some people pay in their whole life and never have a claim. Before you feel bad for the insurance companies, keep in mind that State Farm Insurance is the 3rd largest land holder in the US, second only to the government and the church. The CEOs millions of dollars a year. Here are some examples from as far back as 2006: Edward M Liddy is the CEO of Allstate = 17.79 Million Dollars per year. Glenn M Renwick is the CEO of Progressive = 8.14 Million Dollars per year. Jay S Fishman is the CEO of St Paul Travelers = 5.47 Million Dollars per year. The insurance company is not broke and if you were hurt, you deserve to get compensated.
Types of Insurance:
Keep in mind that the insurance is on the car, not the driver. Just because you have insurance on your car does not mean you are covered if you are driving a friend’s car. Insurance is broken down into several categories: Med-Pay (medical payments): This is the amount that the insurance of the vehicle you are in will pay your medical bills while you get treated, regardless of who was at fault. This will keep your account from going to collections while you wait to settle. This amount is per person, but may have a per accident limit. This will get paid out as you get treated. (THERE IS NO DEDUCTABLE FOR THIS PART OF THE INSURANCE). Insurance companies are notorious for showing up and offering people $500 to settle their claim right away. Unfortunately, many of these people are shocked and upset when they learn that they still have problems later but their medical bills won’t be covered because they already settled their claim. Liability insurance: This is the amount that the insurance for the driver at fault will pay. It is not paid until the end of the settlement process. It usually has a dollar limit. It will NOT pay for expenses of the driver at fault, but will cover his/her passengers and anyone else involved. Uninsured/underinsured motorist: If the car you were in has this coverage, and the other car that was at fault does not have insurance (or not enough insurance), then this part of the policy will step in and act just like an extra policy on the at fault driver’s car. It will pay medical bills, property damage, pain and suffering, etc. Keep in mind, they will not pay until the end of the settlement process. It is always good to have this on your policy in case you are hit by someone without insurance. Collision: This covers damage to your car. Usually there is a deductible. The insurance company will usually settle vehicle/property damage right away. This is to avoid long rental car fees. It is usually advised to get at least 2, if not 3 estimates. Some repair places may even give you a free rental car; others may try to bill it to the insurance.
If you were the passenger in the accident and the driver of the vehicle you were in was at fault, their insurance will pay all your bills including pain and suffering, just as if you were in the other vehicle. If you were working at the time, you may also be covered under Worker’s Compensation Insurance by your employer, even if you were in your own vehicle and is not limited by the Med-Pay limits. Disclaimer: Everything on this page is not to be considered legal advice. To protect yourself, you would need to consult with an attorney.