You’ve recently been in a North Carolina car accident, and the insurance company says your car is totaled. This stance means, essentially, that your insurance company thinks your car is not worth repairing, usually when it believes the repairs would be 80% or more of the car’s value. Instead of repairing your car, they may offer you another equivalent car or a cash payout. If you think the settlement offer is too low, you can challenge it. You may need to do just that since you’re still responsible for paying off your loan.
Insurance Companies Routinely Deny or Minimize Claims
Insurance companies only make money when they pay out less in claim dollars than they took in in premium dollars. In other words, it is very much in the interest of your insurance company, their attorneys, and their claims adjusters to persuade you to accept the lowest possible settlement for your claim. Insurance companies also know that you need your car and that your accident has left you under financial pressure – whether from just the damages to your car or other financial consequences of the accident. In either case, they will work to take advantage of your financial need and try to get you to settle quickly. If they can do that by saying it’s totaled and washing their hands of your claim, so much the better for them.
Insurance Company Tactics to Look out for
Insurance companies are also not in the business of settlement innovations. They have tried-and-true tactics that have worked well for them in the past in settling claims for the lowest amounts. You should be on the lookout for these ploys.
Pressuring You to Provide a Recorded Statement
A recorded statement is somewhat like a deposition. You will meet (or Zoom or teleconference) with insurance company representatives and make statements about the accident under oath. In North Carolina, you do not have to give a recorded statement in order to get your claim paid. A recorded statement allows the attorneys for the at-fault driver’s insurance company to ask you questions under oath and to use your answers against you in processing your claim. Remember, in North Carolina, you may not be compelled to give a recorded statement. Given the ease with which your claim can be denied based on something as simple as your polite apology, it’s far better to avoid this route altogether.
Telling You Not to Get a Lawyer
The insurance company has its own lawyers and would be just as happy if you didn’t have any of your own. They know the law; they know their tactics and your rights. They also know that they can outlast you, but that if you get a lawyer, your rights and interests will suddenly become more important and much more vigorously defended. In other words, as soon as you have a lawyer, the cost to the insurance company of the claim goes up. They would rather avoid that.
Making Lowball Initial Offers
Most initial settlement offers from an insurance company are considerably lower than might be reasonable for your claim. This tactic is called a lowball offer, and they really, really hope you will accept it. As we said before, the insurance company wants to take in the greatest amount of premium for the lowest amount of payout. The insurance company also knows that the longer your claim is open, the more you will discover about the full extent of your damages. In other words, time is your friend and the insurance company’s enemy. They want to settle low and fast.
Protect Yourself by Retaining an Attorney
One of the best ways to avoid dealing with insurance company settlement tactics is to ignore their advice not to get a lawyer. A knowledgeable and experienced car accident or personal injury attorney will have been down the road many times before. Your attorney may even have dealt with this company and its personnel before. In any case, the attorney’s experience in responding to lowball and high-pressure settlement tactics will help to get you the best possible settlement for all of your injuries.
Your Lawyer Will Communicate with the Insurance Company for You
Having a lawyer also gets you out of the communication chain with the insurance company. Face it, you’ve been in an accident, and you’re not at your best. You may be injured; you’re certainly stressed emotionally, physically, and probably financially. From the insurance company’s point of view, that’s the perfect time to discuss settlement. However, a lawyer will step between you and the insurance company representatives. In fact, once you’ve hired a lawyer, the insurance company’s lawyers are no longer allowed to speak to you directly. Having a lawyer reduces your stress by taking you out of the conversation and levels the playing field with a passionate advocate for your side of the case.
If the Insurance Company Won’t Pay, Your Lawyer May Take Your Case to Court
In the end, lawyers are able to go to court. Once you have retained counsel, the insurance company knows that you are willing and able to file suit to enforce your claim. It’s no longer just a matter of them saying no while you keep hoping for yes. Usually, once a lawsuit is filed, the ultimate payout on the claim is going to be higher than it would have been without the litigation. The insurance company is aware of this and will be more likely to settle to avoid litigation.
Call Us Today to Speak with a Wilmington Personal Injury Lawyer
As you’ve seen, if you or a loved one has been in a North Carolina car accident and are facing settlement battles with the insurance company, a skilled car accident or personal injury attorney can take the pressure off you and result in a more complete and more satisfactory settlement of your claim. Contact us online or call 910-490-4199 today for a free initial consultation and case evaluation.