SACRAMENTO PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER
Dealing With Insurance Companies
California has more laws to protect insurance policyholders than any other state in the country. Unfortunately, this does not necessarily stop insurance companies from doing whatever they can to limit payouts and increase profits. In order to have a decent chance of receiving the compensation to which you are entitled, it’s important to understand your rights and the procedures in dealing with an insurance company. Speak to a Sacramento personal injury lawyer regarding your specific case.
The most important law to remember is that your insurance company is legally obligated to act in “good faith.” It has a duty to investigate, process, and deal with you fairly and to pay your claim fully, promptly and in your best interest.
Basic negotiating will resolve most insurance disputes. The following list is meant to serve as a guideline for how to deal with an insurance company:
- Seek legal advice. It is important to fully understand your rights. Don’t sign any releases or waivers without legal help of a skilled Sacramento personal injury lawyer.
- Don’t take the first offer. When bills pile up after an incident, it’s tempting to take the first offer that’s presented. Try to be patient and find ways to cover your expenses while you negotiate. There are several options for covering medical costs after a car accident or other incident. Most settlements are decided after quite a bit of negotiation, another reason it’s nice to have legal representation.
- Reach out to the insurance company as soon as possible. Don’t delay after the accident – it’s important to establish communication as early as possible. If you can, call the insurance company before seeking medical care (so long as it isn’t an emergency, of course).
- Maintain an honest and professional manner towards the insurance company throughout the entire process. Getting upset and saying inappropriate things can make it harder for you to have a positive relationship during the process and may affect negotiations. Lying can result in the denial of a claim and even a cancellation of your insurance policy.
- When submitting a request of any kind, e.g. for policy explanations, be sure to do so in writing. Be clear in what you are requesting. There are rules by which the insurance company must follow such as time limits and completion of requests.
- Submit all complaints in writing and in professional or courteous language. Also be sure to send it to the relevant individual who may address your concern such as a Sacramento personal injury lawyer.
- Through insurance representatives may seem friendly and pleasant, do not let that get your guard down. They do not intend to be your friend and usually do not intend to give you as much financial aid as you may think you deserve. Always communicate in a courteous manner, even if they are unfriendly or hostile.
- Understand that this is a business negotiation. Insurance representatives speak on behalf of their company – usually large, powerful, and absolutely for profit. The aim of all insurance companies is to provide the least payout in order to maximize profits.
- Keep track of all expenses related to the incident. Write down any levels of pain, if possible. Keep a diary of any emotional turmoil. Keep track of any spending or costs of travel associated with the incident in question. Keep all receipts and take pictures or videos whenever possible.
- Be sure to keep track of all time limits under the policy. Policies often have a one year limit to initiate legal action if a settlement can not be reached.
- Look for all possible sources of coverage. You may have homeowners insurance or credit cards that provide policies with some amount of coverage.
- In some cases, insurance companies go so far as to not represent their policyholders’ best interests. They may even deny an insurance claim in bad faith, meaning they do not properly investigate, do not recognize the claim at all, or act inappropriately and fail in their duty to the policyholder in some other way. Policyholders are usually at a disadvantage in these situations because it takes an in-depth understanding of insurance law and your specific policy to know whether or not the insurance company is treating you fairly.
Truly the best thing you can do when dealing with an insurance company is to have a knowledgeable and motivated law group on your side. The laws and proceedings can be complicated and missing a single deadline may jeopardize your ability to receive compensation.