How to Deal With Insurance Companies
Lewis and Tompkins is a Washington, D.C. based injury law firm that offers legal help for those who have been injured in accidents due to no fault of their own. We have helped thousands of people in Maryland, Virginia and D.C. who have been hurt in pedestrian accidents or car and motorcycle accidents. We also help those who have been injured due to medical malpractice, faulty or defective products, or those who were hit while bicycling. If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident anywhere in the Washington, D.C. area, contact Lewis and Tompkins for a free legal consultation today.
If you are one of the lucky ones who have never been in an accident or gotten a speeding ticket, congratulations are certainly in order. Not only does this mean that you have probably exhibited responsible driving practices, but it also means that you have been the beneficiary of good fortune. Remember, you are sharing the road with other drivers, and a great many of them don’t exercise the same level of caution that you do.
One of the great benefits of safe driving is that you are probably paying very low rates on your insurance. But one of the costs of having a good record is that you probably don’t have much of an idea as to how insurance companies work.
If you get into an accident where there is real property damage and/or hospital bills, the odds are that getting treated fairly by your insurance company will be an uphill battle. Insurers are notorious for denying legitimate medical claims, delaying payment, and offering lowball settlements.
There are a few ways for you to avoid getting taken advantage of, and here are some of the basics:
Read Your Policy: Considering how many “contracts” we are supposed to sign in our lives these days, we have gotten quite used to simply signing on the dotted line. Or clicking “yes,” as the case may be. But with insurance, it is very important that you actually read the policy. Even if it is crammed with dense legalese and is difficult to understand, you should go over it and try to get as much out of it as you can. Insurers often bank on the fact that you haven’t read your contract, and adjusters will baldly state as fact things that aren’t true in the hopes that you will simply believe it.
Be Careful Filling out Your Forms: If the claim amount is particularly large, insurers will be looking for any excuse to deny claims. Something as trivial as getting your birth date wrong or saying that you car had side airbags when it didn’t can be enough to make your life difficult.
Don’t Cash Any Checks You Did Not Ask For: Settlement checks serve dual functions. The first function is to give you money. The second and more important function is for to absolve the insurers of any future responsibility. Most checks come with waivers printed right underneath the endorsement line on the back of the check. Also, don’t cash any checks that purport to be “premium refund checks.” These are sent out to you when the insurance company wants to kick you off of your policy. Cashing them is basically saying that you accept their decision.
Get Everything in Writing: Many policyholders make the mistake of calling an insurance company instead of going through faxes or e-mails. The funny thing about telephone calls is that they have this strange tendency to disappear into thin air. Sure, there might be a record that you called and talked to someone, but there is no record of what it is that you talked about. This makes phone calls absolutely useless when it comes to proving your point in a court of law. Any communications made with your insurance company should be done through e-mail, faxes or at the very least registered mail. This way, there is documented proof of every bit of communication between you and your insurer. In the event that you have to talk to your insurer over the phone, specifically ask for whatever they tell you in writing. If you don’t receive it, e-mail them and ask for it.
In the event that your insurance company continues to give you the runaround, contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible. Lewis and Tompkins specialize in helping D.C. area accident victims who have been treated unfairly by insurance companies.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident in DC, Maryland or Virginia, contact Lewis and Tompkins for a free legal consultation today.