Although your insurance service provider is required by the law to act in good faith when handling your accident claim, this does not always happen. Normally, most auto accident victims seek to take the easy way out when they are negotiating a settlement with the insurance company.
While hiring a personal injury lawyer might seem optional, a study conducted by the Insurance Research Council indicates that an insurance company is more likely to pay a victim represented by an attorney than one who is not. When an auto accident happens, and the claim is either denied or the amount paid out does not cover all damages, the financial burden placed on the policyholder is severe.
How does my insurance company assess my claim after an accident?
Insurance companies normally have insurance adjusters who work in tandem with the company’s lawyers to assess your claim amount. The claims adjuster will then visit your property to conduct detailed investigations. It would be ideal if you also had a lawyer who will protect your interests.
The insurance company will then question you along with other parties involved in the accident to establish the cause of the damages and the subsequent claim. Photographs of the accident scene and accident reports will be critically analyzed. If you accept fault or give an inaccurate account of what happened or incorrect figures, the insurance company may use this as grounds to deny or lower your claim amount.
On what grounds can I sue my auto insurance company?
Being injured in an auto accident or suffering property damage is quite difficult, but it becomes even more difficult if your insurer fails to meet their end of the bargain. Ideally, the insurance company should investigate and settle claims based on the findings. Once this duty is violated, your insurer may be liable in court on the following grounds:
Different states have varying notions of what constitutes bad faith. In Texas, an insurance company is deemed to have acted in bad faith if they knowingly place the insurer at a significant disadvantage in the claims process. When filing a bad faith claim, the plaintiff must demonstrate that the insurance company’s conduct was unreasonable.
Some of bad faith include:
- Unreasonable delays – in some instances, the insurance company may drag out the claim processes in the hope that the policyholder will give up on the case. In Texas, an insurance company has 15 days to accept or deny the insurance claim.
- Deceptive practices – an insurance company may fail to reveal the existence of a certain coverage to avoid paying you. Also, the insurer may fail to provide you with the necessary papers to file your claim in spite of a looming filing deadline.
- Misrepresenting the policy language or the law
- Failure to compensate for a valid claim
- Failure to carry out a comprehensive investigation
- Issuing threatening statements
Breach of contract
When suing an insurance company for breach of contract, you only need to show evidence that the insurance company failed to adhere to the terms and conditions of the policy.
How to handle your auto insurance claim denial
All insurance companies are profit-oriented, which means they will look for every loophole to manipulate facts in your claim to avoid compensating you. If your insurer denies your claim, ask them to provide their reason for denying it in writing. If you think your claim is still valid, consult an auto accident attorney that focuses on denied claims. If the attorney establishes that you have sufficient grounds to dispute the claim denial, they will advise you to either take up legal action against them or use the insurer’s internal dispute processes to appeal.
Claim dispute resolution methods
Some of the methods your attorney may use to resolve the dispute include:
- Negotiation – your attorney, may pressure your insurer into reopening the case and negotiate a fair settlement.
- Small claim courts – your attorney may recommend this method if your claim is less than $10,000. Such claims courts do not require as much extensive knowledge of the court rules or the law as county or district courts.
- Arbitration – some insurance companies have a provision allowing for arbitration on their policies as an alternative to a lawsuit. In an arbitration process, a neutral person or an arbitrator seeks to resolve the dispute.
- Legal redress – if none of these methods work, your attorney will file a lawsuit against your insurer as a last resort.
Thompson Law Injury Lawyers have a team that specializes solely on insurance claims. Get in touch with us today via 844-308-8180 for a free evaluation of your case.