Barring a couple of states, buying an auto insurance coverage is mandatory for the owners of motor vehicles. You may or may not like spending money every month on insurance premiums, it might reap benefits in the future.
However, like every other product, auto insurance also comes with its own problems. Plus, as the benefits are far in the future, it can lead to a lot of disagreements between the insurer and insured.
What can you do if your auto insurer suddenly decides to charge a much higher rate? Or what if they refuse to settle an accident claim?
You have the right to appeal, but first you should try to communicate with your insurer to resolve the issue by yourself. If that doesn’t work, you should connect with an auto insurance lawyer. Remember to have a solid case before going legal as it shouldn’t be something you do on a whim.
What is covered under your auto insurance policy?
An auto insurance policy includes varied elements of coverage meant to offer financial protection on the occurrence of certain events. If you have bought only auto liability coverage, it will not cover your personal injury expenses in an accident.
Similarly, without comprehensive coverage, you can’t expect your auto insurer to compensate you for damages to the car because of a hurricane. Lack of knowledge about your coverage can make you believe that your policy covers injuries and damages from all events.
That’s not true at all – so know your policy well.
What type of conflicts can arise between an auto insurer and insured?
Before signing on the policy documents, you must ensure that you’re in sync with the insurer about the rates, coverage, limitations, exceptions, terms, and every other detail. In addition, you must carefully analyze what types of coverage you need and buy a policy accordingly.
If you’re contesting against something that’s mentioned on the policy document, which was signed by you, chances are that you will lose the legal battle.
One of the most common types of conflicts in the auto insurance sector is the conflict of interest, a situation where the insurance company might not work in the best interest of the policy owner. After all, your insurer wants to maximize its profits or minimize the losses.
Here are some scenarios that would help you to understand a conflict of interest:
- After a car accident, you want to get your car repaired to its previous condition. If the damage is minor, it wouldn’t be an issue for the insurer to pay the cost of repair. However, when the damage is major, your insurance company and the auto repair shop might get into an argument about how much repair is required as the insurance company needs to foot the bill. In some instances, the insurer might even reject the claim if the policy owner doesn’t choose their preferred auto repair shop.
- Suppose the injured party in an accident files a lawsuit against the insured party that is both within and beyond the policy coverage. The auto insurer might work against the insured in the lawsuit so that the cost of settlement or the legal charges can be minimized.
- Another common situation that can lead to a conflict of interest is when both the parties involved in a car accident are insured by the same company.
To resolve these kinds of claims, the insurance company sends two adjusters to settle the claim and determine liability. Now, in a perfect world, these two adjusters are expected to work autonomously, but instead they might work together to minimize the compensation.
Other conflicts can also lead to disagreements between the parties such as:
- The insurer refusing to settle claims or compensating an amount much lower than what the claimant deserves
- Disputes with respect to the insured being charged a much higher insurance rate than what was agreed upon
- Fraudulent activities by one of the parties involved in the claims settlement process such as auto workshops inflating repair costs or medical practitioners performing unnecessary procedures
How can an auto insurance lawyer help you?
If you feel that you have been wronged by your auto insurance company, you should take the legal route and find an auto insurance lawyer to represent you.
You may think that since you know everything about your case, you can represent yourself. However, you probably won’t be able to present the details of your case the way a professional lawyer can. Let’s look at how an auto insurance lawyer can help you:
1. Lawyers can understand the legal terminology and policy wordings better
We know that you have read the terms and conditions of your insurance contract before signing it. But, can you quote the policy wordings and match it with what you’re fighting for?
It may seem easy, but it’s more difficult in practice.
When you’re up against an insurance company intending to cut your claims settlement amount or increase your premium rates, you might find yourself unprepared to defend your claim. On top of that, when you have to negotiate the reimbursement of medical bills, it can be fairly complicated to understand the procedures performed vs. what was required.
An auto insurance lawyer can collect all the facts of the case, understand the contractual language, and work within the regulations to represent your case smartly.
2. Lawyers can obtain evidence to prove liability and damages
When a lawyer gets involved, he/she starts a line of communication with the other party/parties – which usually means the insurance adjuster who collected all the information during the first notice of loss. Since an adjuster has the pocketbook, a lawyer can gather many important details about your claim.
Moreover, your lawyer will also work with the investigating officers, police officers at the scene, and other witnesses to make your case stronger. You may miss a few details here and there but a good lawyer works round the clock on your case.
If you have suffered significant injuries, a lawyer becomes all the more important. Because getting your medical records from a healthcare practice requires a lot of skill set. To get access to these records, the paralegals have to make many requests that hospitals will not respond to unless they follow procedures.
3. Lawyers are equipped with the right negotiation skills
You might believe that you must be compensated a certain amount based on the injuries you have sustained or the mental trauma you have suffered. But, do you think the other party would cave in easily?
When it comes to negotiations, you need to back your claims with legal logic. There should be a direct correlation between what you’re asking for compensation, and how the other party’s action caused that damage. And, it’s not easy to always justify your claims with such precision.
Because auto insurance lawyers handle a range of lawsuits, they are knowledgeable enough to negotiate your compensation based on facts & evidence and understand the worth of a case.