You’ve been in a car accident. That same day, or soon after, someone from an insurance company calls you to ask questions about the wreck. What should you do?
A very experienced lawyer from central Kentucky who now mostly handles mediations always tells my clients that “the insurance company is not on your side, you’re not in good hands, and they’re not a good neighbor.” That may be overselling the point a little bit, but there’s a lot of truth there. You see, after an insurance company finds out that there is or could be a claim made on one of its policies, there are several procedures that kick into action. Almost all of them are designed to save them money, and reduce the value of your claims.
I went to business school before becoming a lawyer, and one of the things I learned there was that insurance companies of all stripes are the second-largest moneymakers in the global marketplace behind banks. Like a bank, insurance companies take their customers’ money and invest it in other places, be that the stock market, mortgages, or other things that are designed to get them a good return on the money. Unlike a bank, though, an insurance company’s customers can’t just take their money back if the decide to. Once you’ve paid your policy premium, the insurance company gets to keep that money unless, and only unless, you make a claim for the insurance benefits you supposedly paid for.
For a very long time, insurance companies treated car accident claims mostly fairly. If you suffered an injury in a car accident and spent a decent amount of money in medical expense to treat that injury, the insurance company would take a look at the medical bills and often pay their customer the limits of their insurance policy, or close to it.
However, at some point in the last thirty years, insurers realized that their companies, and the shareholders in those companies, could make even more money if they paid out less money for claims that their customers or policyholders made. You know, the people that actually fund the insurer’s investments. So they redesigned their claims processes and the wording in their insurance policies so that there were fewer ways their customers could make claims. The policies got longer. The definitions of who was or wasn’t covered under the policies got more specific. There were more exclusions written into the policies that kept their customers from being able to make claims. Then, they developed investigative processes that were designed to chip away at the value of their customers’ claims. They hired private investigators to snoop on their clients to see if they were “really injured.” They hired people to review your medical records from before AND after the accident to see if your treatment was really related to the crash that changed your life or not. When lawyers complained that the people reviewing the records weren’t doctors and couldn’t make those kinds of decisions, the insurance companies decided they were better off spending more money on doctors who would tell them what they wanted to hear (“he/she isn’t hurt”) so they could deny your claim, rather than just paying you fair compensation for your injury.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There’s a lot more. But the point is, if you’re hurt in a car wreck, insurance companies are armed with teams of people that are paid to keep you from getting a fair deal for your claim. That’s why it’s in your best interest to hire a lawyer that knows the ropes to make sure you are protected and taken care of.
That’s what we do every day at Neal & Davis. If you’re hurt in a car wreck, let us handle the insurance companies so you can focus on trying to get back to normal as best you can. The first consultation is absolutely free. Call us at 502-633-6002 today.