Five things an insurance company might do to deny your claim include lying to you, lying to you some more, asking you for recorded statements, asking you to sign unclear documents or release forms, and stalling your claim’s progression.
You have rights when it comes to defending against an uncooperative insurer. Our lawyers can advocate for your right to fair compensation.
Lie to You
We start with this practice because unfortunately, it is the one that happens the most. Some lies are subtler than others. For instance, an insurance adjuster may tell you that there were two witnesses who told their driver you were at fault for the auto accident.
Nevertheless, they would still be willing to strike a deal, so long as you do not drag things out. There may actually be no witnesses––or if there are, they might have nothing useful to say on the matter.
You are within your rights to question anything the insurer tells you. If you suspect that a statement might be false, ask for proof. If they refuse to furnish such evidence, you can draw your own conclusions.
Lie to You Some More
We see insurers lie so often that we felt the need to mention it twice. Adjusters may lie about paperwork, facts, and even the law. They’re betting that you don’t know much about injury law and hope that you’ll take what they say at face value.
Lying doesn’t even apply to the other party’s insurer; it could even apply to your own. For instance, an adjuster may say that the other driver only carried $15,000 in coverage, but what they mean is $15,000 in property damage coverage. The goal is for you to think they mean bodily injury limits, thus making you think you have to take $15,000, even though your injuries are far more serious and worth more.
As morally reprehensible as lying may be, it happens every day and seems to be standard industry practice at times. Again, not only do you have the right to question the insurer’s statements, but you also have the right to partner with an injury lawyer from our firm on your case.
Ask for Recorded Statements After the Car Accident
This one happens in just about every case. Whether dealing with your own insurance company or the other driver’s, do not give any statements unless instructed to do so by a Long Island personal injury lawyer on our team. One of the trickiest tactics is having a playful conversation about unrelated matters one day, then calling back to ask for a recorded statement the next.
Since a rapport is established, the adjuster will ask something friendly like, “Hey, how are you feeling today?” You may instinctively respond, “Great, thanks for asking.” Although the response had nothing to do with the injury, the recording can make it sound that way and be used against you later.
Even if you don’t say anything particularly damaging to your case, the insurer might use editing software to change your tone of voice or splice certain statements out of context. While this is considered a bad faith insurance practice, this does not stop some insurers from doing it.
Ask You to Sign a HIPAA Release
HIPAA stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. Under HIPAA, your personal health records are private unless you authorize someone to see them. Under federal and many state laws, an insurance company only obtains these documents when you release them, and you have a right to limit what you give them.
While you need to prove the severity of your injuries to recover damages, you do not need to sign anything the insurer gives you. By authorizing your full medical records:
- You risk having the insurer say that your condition wasn’t caused by the crash but by something else.
- The insurer could argue that your crash was caused by the medications you were taking, even if you clearly didn’t cause the collision.
- The insurer might say that the crash only worsened a pre-existing condition, freeing them from liability.
- The insurer could argue that a previously diagnosed mental health condition makes your testimony unreliable.
Many insurance companies put broad language in these forms that allow them to request all of your medical records for your entire lifetime. If the liable insurer requests your medical records or otherwise asks you to sign something, ask your lawyer first. They can provide guidance as to whether signing a particular document is safe.
Stall and Delay Your Case’s Progression
When an insurance adjuster suspects that they might have to pay out a claim, they might intentionally stall it. The following could be a sign that the insurer is delaying your case:
- Some large companies now hire adjusters and have them change phone numbers dozens of times, creating confusion about where to send documents.
- Insurance companies may switch out the representative several times within just a month or two, then claim the people quit.
- Even when you settle, the insurance company may stall and pretend your settlement agreement was not received.
- The insurance company might keep asking you for more information, even information that is unattainable or completely irrelevant.
An insurer might just plain refuse to respond to your phone calls and messages. By doing so, the insurer hopes that the statute of limitations will run out on your case, therefore barring you from legal action and some forms of compensation.
Keep These Things in Mind When Dealing with an Insurance Adjuster
Whether or not you decide to hire a lawyer from our firm, we advise keeping these things in mind when pursuing a claim:
You Generally Have a Limited Time to Pursue Legal Action
As we noted earlier, CVP § 214 generally allows claimants to file suit within three years of the accident. This timeline applies to lawsuits, not claims. Filing a claim does not mean filing a lawsuit. So, if the three-year deadline expires on your case, you could lose the right to seek damages, and the insurer may deny your claim on these grounds.
Insurance Companies Are Businesses
Insurance companies market themselves as being your friend or neighbor. Really, they exist to make money. Even when dealing with your own insurer, it might find a way to cut costs on paying out your damages. By keeping this information in mind, you can objectively navigate the claims process and see bad faith insurance practices for what they truly are.
You Have Protections Under New York Law
Per New York Insurance Law § 2601, you have protections against uncooperative insurance companies. Insurers are prohibited from settling claims in bad faith, unjustly stalling the claims process, and failing to acknowledge your claim promptly. An insurer could face fines and other penalties if found guilty of these practices.
Our Personal Injury Lawyers on Long Island Can Serve You
The Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe, LLP is located in Lake Success right on Long Island. With decades of experience representing personal injury victims, you can rest assured that you do not have to fight the insurance company alone.
Dial (516) 358-6900 to begin a free case review. We can discuss what things car insurance companies do to deny claims.
For a free legal consultation, call 516-358-6900