If you've injured someone in an accident and your insurance won't pay, we can help you determine your rights.
You purchase automobile liability insurance to protect yourself financially if you cause a crash that seriously injures someone. That’s why it is called insurance “coverage” because it is supposed to cover you in the event that you cause a crash.
However, many times insurance companies fail to pay legitimate claims or they offer much less than they should to the injured party. If your insurance company fails to properly settle a claim, you could be subject to a lawsuit, trial, and a financial judgement against you.
For example, you may have a $25,000 liability policy, but you cause a crash that results in $100,000 worth of injuries. This is called an “excess” claim, because the losses are far in excess of your policy limits.
When an insurance company fails to settle a clear excess claim for your policy limit when they have the opportunity to do so, they could be acting in bad faith. When your insurance company acts in bad faith, you may be entitled to bring a claim against them for damages to your credit, fear of loss of personal assets, emotional distress and attorneys fees.
There are steps you can take to protect yourself and some insurance tricks to watch out for. The Insurance Justice Center can help. We understand how difficult it can be to deal with insurance companies, especially when they are putting their own financial interests above your own. Our job is to take on insurance companies and hold them accountable when they act in bad faith.
Notify Your Insurance Company
If you or a family member causes a crash, it is very important to immediately notify your insurance company. You have liability coverage for this very reason, and your insurance company can help coordinate with the injured driver’s insurance carrier.
Your insurance company will normally contact you and may ask for a recorded statement of the facts of the crash and what you may know about the injuries. It is very important to give your insurance adjustor complete, accurate and truthful information. The failure to do so could result in a denial of coverage.
Duty to Cooperate
If a lawsuit is filed against you, normally you will be served with suit papers. It is important to notify your insurance company as soon as possible and give them an accurate date of when you were served. This duty is required under almost all insurance policies. Once your insurance company receives the lawsuits papers, they will normally retain a lawyer on your behalf. Your policy requires that you cooperate in the defense of any lawsuits, including meetings with the attorney, answering questions at a deposition or attending any potential trial. The failure to cooperate with the defense may jeopardize your coverage.
You count on your insurance company to protect you when things go wrong, but they may let you down when it comes time for them to pay. They are there to collect your premiums every month, but there are many tricks insurance companies use to avoid or minimize their policy obligations. Know your rights and avoid these insurance tricks:
Failure to Inform
You have a right to be informed as to the status of settlement negotiations. Many times, insurance adjusters won’t tell you when a policy limits demand has been made to resolve a claim against you. Because you paid a premium, you are entitled to a complete copy of the claim file if requested and you have a right to be informed about the settlement status of any claim against you.
Insurance companies may also fail to inform you about your personal financial exposure. There are many instances where you could be personally liable for excess damages such as damages above the policy limits or punitive damages (in circumstances such as drunk or distracted driving). Industry standards require that you be notified when your policy limits won’t cover all of the injuries or losses AND that you can hire your own lawyer to represent you.
Since insurance companies often put their own financial interests first, it is a good idea to hire your own lawyer to help protect your rights and advise you on options.
Frequently, insurance companies will make a lowball offer to the injured party. This may prevent the claim from being settled. This improper claims handling can expose you to being sued personally, which can be financially devastating.
Just because insurance companies control the claims handling process, doesn’t mean you don’t have some input on when and how claims get paid. The most important thing is to make sure you know all your rights.
Improperly Deny Coverage
Insurance companies often deny coverage for improper reasons on legitimate claims. Insurance policy language is dense and confusing and insurance carriers may rely on incorrect facts or bad legal holdings when trying to deny coverage under the policy terms.
A frequent reason for denial is the failure to timely pay insurance premiums, however sometimes payments have been made, but not recorded. Other times, if you have not paid your premium in a timely manner, the insurance company may have failed to send a proper cancellation notice, as required by law. In this case, your policy may still be in effect.
Insurance companies may try to cover up their improper denials or other claims handling mistakes by recommending that you file bankruptcy. Bankruptcy is incredibly damaging to your credit and you should always consult with a lawyer before taking such a drastic step.
At the Insurance Justice Center, we take on insurance companies who act in bad faith and make them pay. Our legal team will protect your interests fully, in or out of court. With our experienced and professional assistance, you can be sure we will assert your rights and seek the justice you deserve.
We're here to help
Give us a call at 877.765.9010 or fill out this form to receive a free consultation.
The Insurance Justice Center serves clients nationwide, handling a wide range of injury claims. We are interested in hearing from you.