What to Do if Your Aren’t Happy With an Insurance Settlement
If you’re like most people, you dutifully paid your insurance premiums for years before disaster struck, and you were happy with the arrangement because you felt that you would be covered. Unfortunately, your insurance company has made a settlement offer that doesn’t come close to covering your medical bills or property damage. You don’t have to accept this offer. Here’s what to do.
Get a Second Opinion
Even if you were visited by an insurance appraiser, most insurance claims are decided by pulling numbers from books and spreadsheets. On the initial review, little attention is paid to the specific circumstances of your claim. Instead, the insurance company is looking to resolve the claim as cheaply as possible.
If you were injured, get a written evaluation from a reputable doctor stating what procedures and rehabilitation you need for a full recovery. For property damage, get two to three estimates detailing what it will take to restore your property to the same condition it was in before it was damaged.
When you have the documentation showing your costs, call your insurance company and ask about the process to appeal their decision. In most cases, if you can show that you’ve done your homework and aren’t trying to inflate your payout, the insurance company will end up fully honoring your claim.
Talk to An Attorney
If you aren’t able to negotiate an acceptable resolution with your insurance company, talk to an attorney. When you sign up for insurance, you’re entering into a contract with your insurance company that they will pay out any claims that are covered by the policy. If your insurance policy calls for full medical treatment and rehabilitation, replacement of your property or the full cost of repairs, it must provide you with exactly that. The company is not allowed to offer you a lower settlement payment unless arrangements have been made for you to receive the covered services at a lower price.
Insurance companies also have what’s known as a duty of good faith and fair dealing. This means that even though paying out claims hurts their profit margins, they must make an effort to honor all valid claims in full. They can’t try to wear you out by using delay tactics or making lowball settlement offers. They can’t ignore submitted claims or require burdensome documentation for the sole purpose of trying to get you to abandon a claim.
If an insurance company engages in bad faith practices, you may have a legal claim for more than the value of an original insurance claim. Many states require the company to pay your attorneys’ fees, so you don’t have to worry about the legal costs of disputing an insurance payout. You may also be entitled to interest from the time a claim reasonably should have been paid. In cases of egregious conduct, you may also be entitled to additional punitive damages.
If you’re having trouble with your insurance settlement, contact an attorney as soon as possible. Any delays may hinder your rights to recover under the law.
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