After an auto accident: Insurance secrets

Automobile accidents are problematic enough without insurance adjusters telling you half truths, or less. Photo: Associated Press

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 4, 2012 – No matter what happens, insurance companies are not your friends.  Their ONLY interest is in saving money.  They often accomplish this by lying to you, and more often they do this by not telling you many things which will hurt you later and which will end up costing you a great deal of money. 

Insurance companies will try to contact you right away and ask for you to answer questions that they are recording.  Do not agree to this, no matter what they tell you!  Whatever you say can hurt you, even if you are being honest and you think you are cooperating.

You may not always need an attorney.  This is even more likely now that you have the information I am giving you here. 

You should take your time, and you should know that  most attorneys will always take your call and try to answer your questions.  An attorney will not charge you for the consultation.  Later, if you feel you need help, the attorney again will not charge any fee to represent you, but will work on contingency.  Generally, the more seriously you have been injured, the more likely it is that you need an attorney.

Insurance companies will NEVER tell you to consult an attorney, because they know that if you hire an attorney, you will get more money, even after you pay the attorney, than you will get if try to negotiate with them yourself. 

Insurance companies will NEVER tell you that their negotiators and claims adjusters are often attorneys. 

Insurance companies always want to pay you less, so they don’t want you to get an attorney.  Again, it doesn’t cost you anything up front to use an attorney, and in the end, you get more by using the attorney.

About your car and repairs and rental cars —

They will call you right away and promise you everything, including getting your car fixed.

They may not tell you that they will do this only if you agree to also accept a small amount of money, such as $500 or $1000, as a settlement for your injuries.  They certainly will not tell you that they know that in many cases, people have injuries that require much more than $500 or $1000 in medical care to get better.

The may not tell you that they will only pay for a few days of storage, and that it is your responsibility to get your car out of storage after that time.  If you don’t do this, the storage bill goes up every day and you may not have the money at that point to get it out.

They may not tell you that you have the right to a rental car while your car is being repaired.

They may not tell you that they will only pay about $20 - $25.00 per day for the rental car to replace your transportation.  If you go out first and rent a car and spend more than that, you will be stuck with paying the difference. 

They may not tell you that they will not pay for Physical Damage Waiver,or the “extra” insurance on your rental car, if you have automobile insurance on your damaged car.  You do not need to get the Physical Damage Waiver or the “insurance” on your rental car if you had insurance on your damaged car.  Your insurance will cover if you cause an accident in the rental car. 

They may not tell you that they might use older parts to fix your car.

They may not tell you that if your car is declared a total loss, they will find many things to deduct from the value, such as what they determine is “high” mileage and prior damage to the car.  They also may not tell you that they will not increase the value and pay you more, even if you had recently put on new tires, or replaced the engine.

About your medical bills—

They may not tell you that they will not pay all of the bills.  They will use a standard they call “reasonable and customary” and compare the bill to what they say other similar doctors charge for the same services.  They will not tell you that they may ask a doctor, or a service to review the bill, to see if the medical services were necessary.  They may not tell you that they pay the doctors and services for these opinions, so naturally, these doctors and services tell them what they want to hear so they have to pay less, that is, that your doctor’s bill is too high and that some of what the doctor did in treating you was not necessary.

They may not tell you that they will only “allow” you to get treatment for a pre-determined period of time, such as six weeks.  They may not tell you that this limit is based on their belief that you should get better in that time period.  Their belief is again based on what doctors on their payroll tell them.

Insurance companies will not tell you that if you sign a general “release,” in addition to getting your medical records from your doctor relating to this accident, they will also get prior medical records.  They do this to see if you have any injury or problem that is evenly remotely similar to the injuries you have now, and they will then use that prior problem to reduce the amount of money they pay you now.  They will claim that the accident did not cause 100% of your current problem.  They will claim that your prior injury was still hanging around causing you problems.

Insurance companies will not tell you that they are going to access a nationwide computer database to see if you have ever made any claims for injuries.  This includes car accidents, work accidents, and even slip and fall accidents where you made a legal claim.  They will not tell you that if they find anything they will use it to pay you less money for your current problems, using the same arguments I discussed in the above paragraph.

About the money you lose because you can’t work —

Insurance companies will not tell you what they require in documentation before they pay you for your lost wages or income losses.  They will not tell you they need paystubs, sometimes tax returns, a letter from your employer proving you were out of work, a certificate from your doctor keeping you off work, and sometimes more.

Insurance companies will not tell you that even after you supply all of this documentation, they still may not pay you all of your wages or  losses.  They will not tell you that they are not paying because they have the opinion, despite what your doctor said, that you did not need to be off of work as long as you actually missed.  They will not tell you they have this opinion, because of, you guessed it, the doctors they paid to give them the opinions.

I have provided this information to help people who have been involved in automobile collisions, so that there is an awareness of what is in store when dealing with the insurance industry.  I recognize that there are exceptions to what I have written here, however, I would tell you that the exceptions are rare.  The less serious the collision, the more likely the insurance company will be reasonable.  In any event, the scary thing is that what I have written here is often only the “tip of  the iceberg.”  Insurance companies are not your friends.   

Paul A. Samakow is an attorney licensed in Maryland and Virginia, and has been practicing since 1980.  He represents injury victims and routinely battles insurance companies and big businesses that will not accept full responsibility for the harms and losses they cause. He can be reached at any time by calling 1-866-SAMAKOW (1-866-726-2569), via email, or through his website. He is also available to speak to your group on numerous legal topics.  Paul is the featured legal analyst on the Washington Times Radio, on the Andy Parks show, on Wednesdays at 5:15 P.M., and he is a columnist on the Washington Times Communities.

His book The 8 Critical Things Your Auto Accident Attorney Won’t Tell You is free to Maryland and Virginia residents and can be obtained by ordering it on his website; others can obtain it on Amazon.

 

 


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Paul Samakow

Attorney Paul Samakow brings his legal expertise to the headlines from life and real-life experience to The Washington Times Communties. A native Washingtonian, Samakow has been a Plaintiff’s trial lawyer since 1980, with offices in Maryland and Virginia. 

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