Your rights against your insurance company
Have you or someone you know sustained a serious or life-changing injury due to the negligence or reckless actions of another driver? If so, you may be entitled to recover money from your own insurance company in addition to money you may recover from the at-fault driver. Auto insurance is a contract between you and your insurance company that protects you against financial loss in the event of a crash. In exchange for paying a premium, the insurance company agrees to pay your losses as outlined in your policy.
You expect your insurance company to protect you in times of trouble, but the truth is, you have to know how to protect yourself in order to get the maximum recovery for your losses.
There are steps you can take to protect your rights and some common insurance tricks to watch out for. The Insurance Justice Center can help. While you focus on your physical and emotional recovery, the Insurance Justice Center can focus on the recovery of your losses. We understand how emotionally exhausting and financially burdening it can be to be faced with any personal injury matter. Our job is to take on the insurance companies and help you get the most for your claim. You can be confident that when you work with our legal team, we will effectively file your claim and seek justice on your behalf. Here are some first steps you can take to protect your rights:
Notify Your Insurance Company
If you or a loved one is injured in a crash due to someone else’s negligence, in addition to notifying the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier, it is also very important to notify your own insurance company. While you may be concerned that your rates will go up, most states don’t allow insurance companies to raise rates when the crash is not your fault. It is also important to notify your insurance company because they will assist you with your property damage and will help coordinate with the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier. Also, you may be able to recover money from your own insurance company if you are hit by an uninsured motorist, hit-and-run, or underinsured motorist, where the at-fault driver doesn’t have enough insurance to fully cover your losses.
Know Your Coverage
If you have been injured in a crash, it is very important to understand what type of coverage you have under your own auto policy. This is especially important if you are injured by an uninsured motorist or an underinsured motorist. In that situation, your own insurance policy may provide coverage to supplement the at-fault driver’s payment.
Generally, your policy will cover you and other family members driving your car or someone else’s car, with their permission. Your policy also provides coverage if someone who is not on your policy is driving your car with your consent. Nearly every state requires owners to carry:
Bodily Injury Liability
Covers costs associated with injuries or death that you or another driver causes while driving your car.
Property Damage Liability
Reimburses others for damage that you were another driver operating your car causes to another vehicle or property.
Medical Payments or Personal Injury Protection (PIP)
Provides reimbursement for medical expenses for injuries to you or your passengers. It will also cover lost wages and other related expenses.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage
Reimburses you when an accident is caused by a driver who does not have auto insurance, or in the case of a hit-and-run crash.
Underinsured Motorist Coverage
Covers costs when another driver lacks adequate coverage to pay the cost of a serious crash.
Reimburses you for damage to your car that occurs as a result of a crash with another vehicle or object, when you are at fault.
Auto insurance policies and coverage issues can be extremely confusing. The legal team at the Insurance Justice Center has unmatched expertise in understanding insurance coverage and helping you get the maximum financial recovery for your injuries.
Duty to cooperate
After a crash, you have to make sure you comply with all the conditions set forth in your policy under each type of coverage. That may include making a formal claim, providing a telephone statement of the facts and your injuries, and even providing an examination under oath by an insurance company lawyer. This may also include submitting proof of your losses in the form of medical records and/or medical bills. It is extremely important to cooperate with your insurance carrier and to provide all the requested information, or you may be jeopardizing your benefits and leaving money on the table.
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:
Pass The Buck
One of the most common tricks insurance companies use is to undervalue your claim. For example, if you have been injured by an underinsured motorist, your own insurance company may pass the buck to the at-fault driver’s insurance company. They may take the position that you have been paid in full, even when you have not received enough money to fully cover your losses. In fact, your claim may be worth more than all the combined limits.
It can be difficult to determine the real value of a personal injury claim. Medical treatment can be very expensive and you may have lost wages or even sustained a permanent injury or disability that makes it impossible to work. The one thing you know for sure is that the insurance adjuster has one job: to pay you the least amount possible to settle a claim. In order to avoid paying the full amount, insurance adjusters often use unfair methods to value claims. For example, they may only offer to pay for your out of pocket expenses, when in fact the at-fault party should not get credit for steps you have taken to protect yourself, such as health insurance. They may also fail to take into consideration future medical expenses, lost wages, as well as other types of losses such as pain and suffering. Protect your rights and make sure you are getting full value for your injury claim.
Most policies have an exclusion for family members who are also residents of your household, but that may or may not be legally enforceable. Because most states mandate uninsured motorist coverage, they also have decided that exclusions eliminating coverage for family members are not valid. What that means is if your son who lives with you is a passenger in a car you are driving, and an uninsured motorist causes injury to your son, your insurance company is at least obligated to the extent of your state’s required uninsured motorist coverage limit. While the limits, mandates and law imposing uninsured motorist coverage on carriers varies by state to state, it is important that you know all your rights. This can be a complex legal question depending on where the crash takes place and where the policy was issued.
Don’t allow your insurance company to avoid giving you the benefit of all of your policies. They may try to tell you that only one policy limit applies–the one attached to your vehicle. In reality, you may be entitled to “stack” coverage from all of your auto policies. Many companies write separate policies per vehicle and depending on your particular state’s law, you may be able to pool all the policy benefits together instead of just one policy limit.
At the Insurance Justice Center, our legal team will tirelessly pursue your compensation to fully represent your interests without compromise, in or out of court. We strongly advise you against navigating the legal system alone. With our experienced and professional assistance, you can be sure we will protect your rights and seek the justice you deserve.
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