Despite warm-and-fuzzy slogans such as “like a good neighbor” and “you’re in good hands,” insurance companies are not, in fact, looking out for your best interests. In fact, adjusters actively pursue every opportunity to minimize or deny claim payouts at every turn possible; most often they are looking out for their shareholders or the interests of the corporation. As Fort Myers injury lawyers, we’ve become closely familiar with all the ways in which insurance adjusters lull claimants into a false sense of security as they seek out the slightest inconsistency that may allow them to cite a coverage exemption or a reduction in payout.
On the other hand, Insurance companies do have a legal responsibility to act in good faith, per F.S. 624.155. Examples of bad faith insurance would be things like unnecessary delays on claims, misrepresentations of coverage, ambiguous policy exclusions, denying valid claims without just cause, or extremely lowballing payouts.
But even when insurers don’t cross the threshold of bad faith, they can still undermine your claim in a number of ways.
These may include:
- Acting like your friend. Insurance adjusters want you to trust them. They’ll show you empathy and build up a rapport. But beware because they have ulterior motives. They want you to let your guard down, perhaps concede your injuries aren’t actually as severe or that you somehow played a bigger role in causing the crash. The best way to avoid getting taken in by this act is to have your Fort Myers injury lawyer do the talking for you. It’s almost always in your best interest to avoid direct communication with an insurer – even your own. Keep in mind: Your insurer may be on the hook to pay for personal injury protection (PIP) coverage – up to $10,000 – and (possibly) uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. PIP coverage is granted on a no-fault basis, but they can still minimize payouts if they can argue your injuries aren’t very serious or were part of a preexisting condition. UM/UIM coverage is available if the at-fault driver doesn’t have insurance or lacks enough coverage to fully compensate for your losses. The bottom line is even if you are a longtime, faithful customer, it’s likely the insurer is still going to look for ways to reduce your claim payout.
- Recording your statements. Insurance adjusters should let you know when they’re recording a post-crash conversation, but that doesn’t insulate you from the harm that can be caused if your words get at all twisted on that call. If an adjuster informs you they plan on recording the statement you’re about to provide them, kindly – but firmly – tell them you wish to speak to your Fort Myers injury lawyer first. Your attorney can answer questions on your behalf and make sure that your account of events and detailing of your injuries isn’t misconstrued.
- Extending low settlement offers. Yes, lowball offers are a form of bad faith, but most insurers are counting on the fact that you don’t know your rights. They may also be relying on the likely assumption that you are short on cash after the crash. You’ve maybe lost some shifts at work, your car needs repairing, and you have medical bills piling up. Rather than offer you full compensation, the insurer may offer you less than what your claim is worth (though you may not realize it) knowing you want to quickly move on. But you should avoid accepting any settlement offers until you have discussed it with an injury lawyer.
- Asking for additional information. In our experience the insurance companies, even when dealing with lawyers, are always asking for just one more piece of information that they need to evaluate your claim. While it is true that they need information to process your claim and come up with what they think is a fair payout there is a time when they most definitely have enough information. over the years we have learned to know when they actually need additional information or they are just using this as a stall tactic.
The best way to avoid falling prey to insurance adjuster pitfalls is to link up with a lawyer as soon as possible, and allow them to manage all negotiations. With injury cases, your lawyer is paid on a contingency fee basis – meaning they aren’t paid at all unless or until they win. We have decades of experience successfully negotiating tough cases with well-funded insurers. We recognize the tactics adjusters employ, and we’re prepared to challenge any assumptions that might adversely impact your damage claim.
If you are injured in Fort Myers, Port Charlotte, Sarasota, Cape Coral, Naples, or Key West, contact Garvin Injury Law at 800.977.7017 for a free consultation.
F.S. 624.155, Civil Remedy, Bad Faith Insurance, Florida Statute
More Blog Entries:
How Do I Know If I Have a Florida Bad Faith Insurance Claim? March 11, 2021, Fort Myers Injury Lawyer Blog