A car accident is frustrating enough on its own. Add in a denied insurance claim or a settlement offer that’s way too low, and the frustration can come to a boiling point. Know that if your auto accident claim has been rejected by the insurance company, you may have legal options to help you resolve the situation. The same goes for when your insurance provider is offering a settlement that doesn’t even begin to cover your losses. In this article, we’ll discuss some frequently asked questions about insurance claims.
If you have questions about your insurance claim, give the attorney for auto insurance claims, Jonathan D. Schwartz, a call at 786-566-6716
Why Did My Insurance Not Pay the Full Amount for My Claim?
You’ve done your legal duty in carrying the appropriate insurance amounts or more. You think you’re protected in the event you’re in an accident – your medical bills and property damage should be covered, right? Despite this, sometimes claimants aren’t offered the full amount of their accident claim. Low offers may be because of a few reasons including:
- Your policy limits – Depending on your specific policy, there may be a limited amount that the insurance company will pay. In these cases, depending on the facts of your case, you may have other options to facilitate your recovery.
- The first insurance offer is usually low – Insurance companies set out to protect their own interests, which usually means offering as low of a settlement as possible to claimants. Often claimants will just accept the first offer because they don’t know any better – insurance companies expect that and capitalize on it.
- You don’t have enough evidence – If the insurance provider believes that you don’t have the evidence to back up your claim or win in court, your insurance settlement will likely be a lot lower than you imagined. This may mean lacking evidence in the form of medical records, vehicle repairs, etc.
- The offer may have been calculated by a computer – It’s common practice today for accident claims to be auto-computed by algorithms that favor the insurance company. The algorithm analyzes similar injury claims to get the estimate, which provides cookie-cutter results.
- They know you don’t have adequate experience filing insurance claims – Providers know that the average claimant doesn’t have the experience to know when an offer isn’t right. As such, they tend to get away with offering too low amounts.
If you’ve received a low offer, don’t give up. You may have grounds to appeal the decision. Consult an auto insurance claim attorney today to find out your next best steps when it comes to getting the settlement amount you deserve.
Common Car Insurance Coverage Issues
Many people think they have “full coverage,” but this often turns out to not be the case following a car accident. Further, many times, coverage issues exist without the insured even knowing. This can lead to reduced or denied accident claims.
Some potential insurance coverage issues that may pop up after an accident are:
- Insurance policy limits
- Coverage expiration/lapses
- Lack of coverage specified within the fine print
- The insurance company was not informed in time
- The claim was filled out with mistakes or errors
- The claim contained fraudulent information
Sometimes a claim is denied due to an honest mistake. For example, if a spelling error led to a claim denial. If this is the case, the situation may be easily remedied. Once you’ve reviewed the reason for your claim denial, you may be able to appeal the claim decision.
Sometimes the reason for a claim denial or a reduced offer is more complex or sinister (like in the case of bad insurance). One example of a potentially complex situation is when a claimant’s insurance policy isn’t enough to cover the damages. This is often the case when someone opts to get only the minimum required insurance. In Florida, the minimum insurance requirements are $10,000 liability coverage, which covers the property damage to the other driver’s vehicle and $10,000 for PIP coverage, which covers your own medical bills and lost wages. Florida law does not require drivers to have liability coverage to pay for another person’s medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, etc. This means that if you are severely hurt in an accident, it’s possible that neither your insurance nor the at-fault driver’s insurance will be enough to cover your damages. Depending on the circumstances involved in your case, you may have other options to collect losses despite the insurance coverage gaps – be sure to speak with an insurance claim lawyer to find out.
What Can I Do About My Claim? Do I Have Any Legal Recourse?
If the insurance company is low-balling you or has denied your claim altogether, don’t give up. There may be legal options available to get around complex reasons for claim denial or low offer. Additionally, sometimes claim denials or low offers are more sinister; when the insurance company operates in bad faith, they are breaking the law. A Miami insurance lawyer can identify bad faith practices and protect your rights.
The first step is to take a look at your denial letter. Was your claim denied for a legitimate reason, such as a mistake on your form or because of a lack of documentation? The reason for the denial can help you determine whether the insurance company’s decision was a mistake, a misunderstanding, legitimate, or made under bad faith.
Once you’re aware of the reason for the denial, an insurance lawyer can help you submit an appeal. Your lawyer will guide and advise you on collecting the documentation and evidence needed to appeal the decision. These items may include medical records, doctor’s notes, photographs of the accident scene, witness statements, medical bills, prescription costs, auto repair expenses, expert witness statements, accident reconstruction, traffic data, and more.
When to Consult an Attorney
Insurance companies may employ a variety of tricks to reduce or eliminate your accident settlement. Be wary of this throughout the insurance claims process. An insurer is obligated by law to practice in good faith, abiding by the terms in your policy and meeting all responsibilities to you. Some signs an insurance company may be practicing in bad faith are:
- Huge delays in the investigation of your insurance claim
- Inadequate investigation of your insurance claim
- Lowball settlement offers
- Insurance claim denials
- Taking an enormous amount of time to approve your claim
The provider may refuse to pay your rightful claim an effort to save themselves money. If any of these things happen, consult an insurance lawyer in Florida right away.
Common Insurance Claim Scenarios
If you’re in any of the confusing situations discussed below, it may be time to pick up the phone and call an attorney.
Scenario 1 - Imagine your car accident is deemed a total loss. The insurance company wants to pay you $18,000, but your car was worth $21,000.
Don’t just accept the short-changed offer. In this scenario, you’ll need to refer to your insurance policy. After a car has been deemed “totaled,” the insurance provider will either pay you according to fair market value or replacement value. With fair market value, the adjuster will calculate the claim amount based on a resource like Kelly Blue Book. The value will be calculated by your car’s make, model, age, mileage, and condition at the time of the incident. In the event your policy stipulates that you will be reimbursed the replacement value, the calculation will be based on their estimate of the cost of buying a replacement car that is similar to your totaled car. These are important terms as the difference may be significant.
Despite the method the provider uses to get to your claim offer, there’s a good chance it will be lower than your car’s actual value. Your lawyer will then negotiate with the insurance company to get you the appropriate amount. Evidence that may help establish the actual value and get you the right amount may include photos and receipts of any upgrades you made to the car (spoiler add-ons, sound system enhancements, a new paint job, brand new tires, etc).
Scenario 2 - Your car is stolen and deemed a total loss. The insurance offers you $20,000, but the car is worth $24,000.
Scenario 3 - Your car is damaged, and the insurance company wants you to take a used bumper instead of a new bumper.
Scenario 4 - The insurance company tries to make you put “aftermarket” parts on the car, and the body shop warns you about the insurance trying to shortchange your car repair.
Talk to an Experienced Insurance Claims Lawyer
The bottom line is that you shouldn’t just give up without a fight. If your insurance company is giving you the runaround, the best course of action is to consult an attorney for auto insurance claims. If you’ve been in an accident, call our Miami insurance lawyer to ensure that your rights are protected throughout the claims process. We’re standing by to help you. Schedule a free initial case review at 786-566-6716. You may also fill out this convenient and confidential online form to request your free consultation.
Why work with Jonathan Schwartz from Bad Vehicle
When you work with Jonathan Schwartz, you’re not just another client. Jonathan will personally review your case to determine the best course of action with your best interest in mind. With over 20 years of experience, you can rest assured that your case will get the legal savvy and one-on-one attention it deserves when you choose Jonathan Schwartz. Dealing with insurance companies can be tedious and frustrating, but you’re not in this alone. Call 786-566-6716 or fill out this convenient and confidential online form to set up your free case review today. Consultations with Jonathan can be conducted 100% remotely if preferred.
The information provided in this blog is for general information purposes only. Every case is unique, so be sure to consult a lawyer for legal advice about your specific situation.