To be sure, there are good and reputable insurance companies and honest and fair adjusters. But I often say that insurance companies are the best source of business for personal injury lawyers because some of these companies can be unfair. I have many stories of people who did not want to go to a lawyer and wanted to handle their insurance claim themselves. But when they are not treated fairly, they need an attorney to help. Good meaning people who “never like to sue anyone” spend great time and energy talking with the insurance company, giving recorded statements, providing full documentation of medical records and authorization, giving photos, etc., and waiting for months and months – only to have the insurance claim representative offer a very low amount that doesn’t come close to full compensation. The claimant (person injured because of the wrongful acts of another) can then be a year out from their auto accident and have nothing to show for it because they thought the insurance company was going to be fair.
Bad insurance companies are in the business of taking premiums and denying claims. They have no legal duty to be fair to you; they often protect their interest and not yours. There are many instances of insurance companies acting improperly. I have had many occasions to represent good, hard working people, file suit, litigate cases, take depositions, take video depositions of doctors, and then either try the case to get a fair result or have the case settle on the eve of trial. The conduct of insurance companies can be ridiculous. Valid claims in workers’ compensation, auto crashes, disability, property damage, dangerous and unsafe property claims are all too often summarily denied. Insurance companies will callously deny liability on a clear rear end auto accident with extensive property damage and never pay. They will deny liability until the opening statement at trial when all of the sudden, they admit they were negligent and they caused damages.
This is their technique to try to surprise you and gain sympathy with the jury. I can list 20 other ways the insurance companies try to rip off consumers – misrepresent amount of insurance; say uninsured coverage does not apply when it does; deny coverage of clearly related medical treatment; create arbitrary timetables of coverage and deny medical after that; say you were at fault and recovery is reduced when that is untrue; saying they ‘arbitrated’ the claim with another insurance company and are reducing recovery; saying your medical condition is degenerative when it isn’t or is irrelevant; only paying for a certain number of physical therapy visits; saying your medical insurance precludes covering medical bills; saying they only will pay medical bills and not pain and suffering; saying wage loss damages cannot be verified; saying there was too low an impact to justify medical damages, etc (is that 20? – if not go to our website for many more crazy stories).
The fact is that people don’t know the claims handling process and it is difficult to know what to do or what is fair. You want to trust your insurance company because you have been paying premiums to them for years, but they may not have your best interest in mind. If you have significant damages at stake, look out for yourself and get a personal injury lawyer to look at the case. The lawyer should be able to tell you why they would add value to the case.