The Myths of Automobile Liability Insurance – Part 2 of 3
In Part 1, I discussed the role automobile liability insurance plays during the investigative stage of a claim. Now i will talk about the settlement part of the claim process. As you may recall in Part 1, the other party's insurance company only has a duty to protect their driver and does not care about your interests.
Sometimes the liability carrier decides that the best way to protect their driver from personal exposure is to resolve your claim by settling the claims within their insured's policy limits. This often includes paying for vehicle property damage, providing a rental car, and settling any claim for bodily injuries.
Even if the insurance adjuster appears to be friendly, nice, and understanding about your claim and situation, don't be fooled. Even when the insurance company appears to be accepting liability, they don't really “accept” liability. The insurance company could decide that the best way to handle your claim is to settle and pay you, but it will not legally accept liability for the claim. They often force language in releases that state that they are not admitting fault but are solely compromising the claim.
The adjuster may review your claim and attempt to negotiate a settlement once they receive the relevant information regarding property damages, medical records, and medical bills. Factors that they typically consider include portion of fault in the incident, the severity of the collision, the severity/permanence of the injuries, the costs and type of the related medical treatment, lost wages, and any future medical treatment.
Insurance adjusters seem to believe that most accidents aren't serious enough to warrant the amount of medical treatment received. Adjusters when evaluating claims often improperly refuse to consider some of your related and necessary medical treatment. Experienced counsel always assists in dealing with the insurance company tricks where they claim that the medical bills are to high, that you were partially at fault, the medical treatment is unrelated, or that you are exaggerating your injuries. Most adjusters have a range of value assigned to a claim provided to the by software that the company uses. These gives them a range of settlement offers to give to you and they always attempt to settle at the low end of that range.
The take-away is this: Just because the insurance adjuster makes you an offer to settle your claim does not mean that the company has any duty to properly and fairly evaluate your claim. The main point is that the liability insurance company has no obligation to you and it’s only goal is to minimize the amounts paid to you, maximize its profits, and protect their insured from personal exposure.
Considering all of the above, the insurance company sometimes will give you a decent offer to settle. If the offer is not acceptable, then your only option would be to file a lawsuit within the statutory time period. I will discuss litigation in Part 3.