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Unfortunately, to an insurance company, you are nothing more than a number on a spreadsheet. You can either make them money or cost them money. It’s never personal with them. So, if you’re injured by one of their insureds in a car accident, you are in a position to cost that insurance company significant money. Therefore, in their eyes, you’re a business liability that needs to be dealt with.
But, your life cannot be quantified on a spreadsheet and your injuries are more than just an inconvenient business debt. So how do you protect yourself from these billion-dollar companies trying to brush your injuries under the rug in order to save a buck? In my opinion, the first line of defense is knowledge. That’s why I’m writing about the five money-saving tricks that I see insurance companies use on a daily basis.
Insurance companies have many tried and tested tricks that will be employed if you are ever injured by one of their insureds. Here is a list of the five most popular:
This is their number one trick. It starts even before you get injured. We’ve all seen those funny insurance company ads. How can this cute company with the hilarious ads be mean? You’d be surprised. After an accident, an insurance company will often contact you relying on that perception saying they are aware of your accident and just want to gather some information in order to evaluate your claim and make a fair offer to settle it with you. They’ve already softened you up with their charming TV persona, so you feel comfortable cooperating. The problem is that they are not really interested in paying you a fair amount of money for your injuries. They’re actually probing for ways to save themselves money and anything they learn from you will ultimately be used to that end. So, it’s best not to fall for this trick. Always think of an insurance company as a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Keep your guard up and don’t fall for their tricks. It’s always best to contact a lawyer rather than deal directly with them.
Many times, an insurance company will call you within days of your accident and offer you a few thousand dollars to settle your claim. This may seem like a good idea if you’re only experiencing some minor pain. The problem is often that minor pain increases over time. Further, if that minor pain turns out to be a significant injury, you’ll be out of luck. Once you accept their money, no matter how small the amount, you are bound by your decision.
This is a big one. It’s never been easier to spy on people than it is today. They don’t even need to hire investigators to follow you. If you have a social media account, rest assured an insurance company will monitor it. And don’t be fooled by thinking you can make your information private. If it’s on the internet, expect an insurance company will find it. That goes for tagging, as well. If you’ve been tagged in photos by friends and family, the insurance company will find it and use it against you.
If you’ve been injured in an accident and received treatment that has been paid for by an insurance company, there’s a record of it. You can expect an insurance company to use that prior treatment to try and prove that is the cause of your current pain and that they didn’t cause an injury. The best defense here is to make sure you see doctors for your injury and clearly document your new complaints and how they are different from any old injuries or problems you have had.
Often if a case is litigated in court, an insurance company will hire a doctor to act as an expert to try and prove that your injuries were not caused by their accident. This isn’t so easy to do if you have a broken leg or arm. But, what about if you have a soft tissue injury such as a torn ligament or tendon? In situations like that, the paid doctor will often try and argue the injury is degenerative, meaning caused over time by normal wear and tear. Again, your best defense against this type of attack is to see a reputable doctor and get diagnostic tests, diagnosed, and treated.
Being aware of what to expect from an insurance company won’t stop them from trying to trick you. But, it will give you insight into their tactics and hopefully allow you to avoid some of the traps that I have seen some people fall for over my twenty years of personal injury experience.
Steven Palermo is the managing partner for Palermo Law, Long Island’s Personal Injury Law Firm. He has been helping people receive compensation for their injuries for over 21 years. He focuses on cases involving car accidents, truck accidents, construction accidents, and slip and fall injuries.
His book The Ultimate Guide to Handling New York Car Accident Claims details the ins and outs of a car accident claim in a simple, easy-to-read manner.