5 Secrets Insurance Companies Don’t Want You to Know
How to protect you and your family’s rights when dealing with insurance companies
Ever notice how cute and harmless the Geico gecko seems? How soothing the AllState guy, Dennis Haysbert’s, voice sounds? Or the pleasant thoughts that fill your mind when hearing something compared to “a good neighbor” like State Farm? Even the ditsy, fun-loving Flo from Progressive exudes a child-like innocence that can be endearing at times. As much as insurance companies strive to differentiate themselves from other industries through the use of these charming characters, do not be fooled.
They are big corporations whose main agenda is to increase profits for their shareholders at all costs – including the cost of their insureds who pay premiums like you and your family. As a Board Certified Civil Trial Lawyer with over 25 years of experience in helping people and families with personal injury and insurance claims, I have learned a lot about insurance companies’ strategies and the games they play to save money. Here are 5 secrets insurance companies do not want people to know:
Secret # 1: Recorded statements can hurt your claim.
Insurance companies encourage people to give recorded statements to reduce the amount of money they have to pay on a claim. Recorded statements are tricky because most people think they have to give one. People think in order for the insurance company to fix their car or pay their bills, a recorded statement is required. They believe it’s just a simple step in the process and don’t think twice when asked by an insurance adjuster.
Recorded statements are dangerous because insurance companies ask questions designed to use against you later. For example: the insurance company may ask you, “How fast was the person driving who rear-ended your car?” You may respond truthfully by saying, “I think he was going 45 miles per hour,” because the impact felt hard. If later in the case the facts show the person who hit you was driving 15 miles per hour, the insurance company may say, “Wow, you exaggerated how fast the person who hit you was driving. You must be exaggerating your injuries and how hurt you are from the crash.” See how the insurance company can, and will, turn the most insignificant answers against you?
Another example of how insurance companies misconstrue your recorded statements is by changing the questions they asked you and your responses in their favor. For example, if an insurance company asked you, “Which direction did the car that hit you come from?” and you reply, “I don’t know,” the insurance company could say later on the person who hit you did nothing wrong because when they asked you, you replied, “I don’t know.” Insurance companies try to take recorded statements from people as soon as possible so the victims do not have enough time to gather the facts of what actually happened in the crash.
Never give a recorded statement without consulting with an experienced personal injury lawyer first because sometimes giving a recorded statement in not required and other times insurance companies ask questions you do not have to answer.
Secret # 2: Insurance companies hope you don’t talk to a lawyer.
Documents maintained by insurance companies show they value cases based on the lawyer someone hires. Insurance companies keep track of lawyers’ successes and reputation and use this information to adjust their settlement offers on cases. This is why people who try to settle their own claims without a lawyer do not receive the compensation they deserve. It is also important to note that most lawyers settle cases for low-amounts because they do not want to file a lawsuit or go to trial, which decreases the value of their clients’ cases.
Consider this real-life example from our law firm: a young woman was rear-ended in a car crash and she tried to settle the case herself. The offers extended by the insurance companies were extremely low and the insurance companies wouldn’t budge at all. When she hired our law firm to help her, we told the insurance company they had three days to pay the policy limits of $100k, not a penny less, or else we would withdraw the offer, file a lawsuit against them, and let a jury decide what would be fair compensation.
With our help, her case settled in three days for the full policy limits of $100,000. This is just one of many examples of why insurance companies try as hard as possible to settle cases before you hire a lawyer.
Secret # 3: Tell your doctors everything about your injuries from the accident on the FIRST visit.
The best way to document your injuries to get a fair settlement is by telling the trust to your doctors. When injured or hurt, it is crucial to visit your doctor, tell them you were in an accident, and communicate to them everything that is bothering you. Seeking and receiving treatment from doctors in a timely manner is the only way insurance companies believe people’s’ injuries. It is also important to avoid gaps in treatment. Otherwise, the insurance companies will fill in the blanks for you.
For example, let’s say you have a neck injury that hurts extremely bad and your knee hurts just a little from the accident. Then you go to your doctor for the first three weeks after your accident and only talk about your extreme neck pain. The fourth week you see your doctor, your neck pain seems fine, so you decide to bring up your sore that hasn’t improved. The doctor looks at your knee for the first time, diagnoses torn cartilage, and you need surgery.
Guess what the insurance company will say? They will say you hurt your knee four weeks AFTER the accident because if you had hurt your knee in the accident, you would have told your doctor on the first visit. This is why you should tell your doctor about everything, big and small, that has been bothering you since the accident on the first visit.
Another key part of a case is your medical history. This is because in Florida, if you have pre-existing injuries, you are entitled to recover more money, not less. People who have a pre-existing injury or condition are easier to hurt and harder to fix. An accident can make a previous injury more serious or permanent. This is why it is so important to tell all your doctors about all your prior accidents, injuries, conditions, and treatments before the accident occurred. Do not hide or minimize your pre-existing conditions; tell your doctors about them all.
Secret # 4: Honesty is the best policy.
This is one we don’t need to tell you, but a few people out there need to know. There are cases the insurance companies won’t settle and when it goes to trial, the jury gives an extremely low verdict. If an insurance company knows or suspects someone is lying about their injuries, they will never settle, take the case to trial, and let the jury punish the dishonest injured person.
Juries are typically able to distinguish lies from the truth and insurance companies know this better than anyone. If a case goes to trial, we trust the jury to figure out the truth, and we’re honest with the jury about our cases. We find that juries reward honesty with fair and just compensation. As in all areas of life, honesty is the best policy and reaps the best results.
Secret # 5: Insurance companies spend millions of dollars to make the public think all lawsuits are frivolous.
The insurance industry has a multi-million dollar public relations machine that constantly pumps out propaganda about injury victims and their lawyers filing frivolous lawsuits that supposedly increase everyone’s insurance premiums. Insurance companies want to brainwash the public into believing people who are injured from accidents are just trying to make a profit, which is false. They use these tactics to make everyone skeptical about lawsuits and make everyone think any compensation from an accident is undeserved.
The law states that people who have been injured from someone else’s negligence are entitled to fair compensation for their losses. It’s about fixing things that can be fixed, helping what can be helped, and making up for anything that cannot be fixed or helped. That is the law and that is justice. However, big corporations like insurance companies who want to increase profits do everything possible to avoid paying insurance claims for damages and injuries caused by their insureds.
For example, there are laws in effect that require truck drivers to rest after so many hours of driving and require a certain standard of maintenance on truck tires, brakes, and other safety equipment, which keep everyone on the highway safe. Think about what would happen if laws prevented people from bringing personal injury claims. How do you think big profit-increasing corporations would respond if they never had to spend money on anyone’s losses?
They would become reckless and endanger the public. They would force truck drivers to drive long hours and only fix trucks after they break down and jack-knife across a highway. If big businesses could escape responsibility for the accidents, injuries, damages, suffering, and deaths they cause, they would have no reason to be safe. When profits are at stake, safety falls to the wayside.
Fortunately, the laws in the United States allow injured victims to bring claims when they suffer injuries, losses, or damages from a negligent person or company. The purpose of a personal injury claim is to compensate and makeup for the damages caused by negligent parties. In effect, these laws encourage people and businesses to be safer by holding them accountable for any needless damage they cause.
Thanks for reading and be safe. These are just some of the secrets the insurance industry hopes you never find out until it’s too late. There are many other tricks and traps set by insurance companies out there, so stay mindful of their main goal: profits. As a lawyer helping thousands of people throughout my career, I hope sharing this information can help you protect you and your family’s rights. We believe one of the reasons our clients experience great outcomes is because they are well-educated about the process of their injury case, which helps them avoid making costly mistakes. Thank you for reading this article and if you have any questions, feel free to call me, Matt Powell, at 813-222-2222.