Insurance companies should be your friend and ally when you get into an accident. The purpose of everyone on the road being required by law to get a policy is because we all want financial protection and peace of mind—especially motorcycle riders. But what if instead of trying to help you pay your bills, the insurance company tries to avoid paying your claim?
Insurance companies have a financial incentive to either not pay any amount to settle a claim or to pay out the smallest amount possible. These companies make money by collecting policy premium payments and by paying less than what your injuries are actually worth (or by paying nothing at all).
This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t get an insurance policy (it’s required by law). But you should be aware that an insurance company has a financial incentive to avoid paying for your accident—so you should know some of their most common negotiation tactics.
1. The insurance company will offer you less money than what your claim is actually worth.
Soon after the accident—perhaps between one to four weeks—the at-fault driver’s motorcycle insurance company will often contact you to offer a settlement. They will say that they are going to pay for your medical bills following the accident and put a few thousand dollars in your pocket. And that sounds appealing to most injured people.
In reality, they know that your claim may be worth significantly worth more than what they are paying you. Thus, they get to avoid paying for the full amount by offering you cash quickly at the beginning of your claim process.
For example, they might give you a $50,000 settlement offer for your broken leg. This might sound like a great offer when you have just been treated and you think that there are no further treatments once your bones heal.
However, the compensation for broken bones typically starts at $100,000 to $300,000. That’s more than twice the amount that the insurance company offered you!
What you can do to prevent this lowball tactic is to not accept any settlement offer immediately after the accident. Make sure that the injuries you sustained have been taken care of and that no further treatment is needed before you start talking about the settlement with the insurance company.
2. They will get you to make a recorded statement against yourself.
Insurance companies will ask you to make a statement about what happened during the accident. It’s likely that they will also ask for your consent to record it via audio or video. This is another tactic that they use in an attempt to have you contradict your case and avoid paying you what your case is worth.
To make sure that you don’t fall into this trap, it’s important to know that there is no law that requires you to make a statement—and certainly not to the at-fault driver’s motorcycle insurance company. The best course of action is to decline the request if the insurance company asks you to make a recorded statement.
If your own insurance company is asking for a recorded statement, this is probably because it’s a requirement to validate your coverage. It’s unlikely that your insurance company will use your recorded statement in a way that will hurt your case. But to be on the safe side, you can ask who they plan on sharing it with.
3. They will try to let the statute of limitations expire.
It’s easier to avoid paying for a claim if they don’t respond to your calls. Some insurance companies will purposely delay their response to let the statute of limitations expire.
In any legal case, there is a time limit to which you can bring your claim. These laws are called statutes of limitations. Statutes of limitations vary both by state and also by the type of accident suffered, but it’s usually 2 to 4 years for injuries.
After the statute of limitations has passed, you can no longer file a lawsuit against the at-fault party or insurance company. There are special circumstances where the statute of limitations might be “paused,” but this doesn’t happen very often.
If a motorcycle insurance company is telling you that you can bring a claim because the statute of limitations has passed, it’s best to seek the help of a personal injury attorney.
4. The insurance company will request that you provide them with all of your medical records.
Similar to the second point, insurance companies will typically ask for your permission to grant them access to your medical records. They will tell you that these documents are needed to process your claim and receive compensation. Then, they will ask you to sign a general medical records release.
A general medical records release allows them access to your entire medical history—not only those that relate to your accident. They might try to look for anything that they can pinpoint as a potential alternative cause for accident-related injuries. Again, the purpose of this tactic is to remove fault from their insured and to place the fault on you so they can get out of paying you.
If they ask you for your medical records, make sure that they only have access to the accident-related documents.
Should you hire a lawyer to help you with your insurance claim?
If you’re in an accident, it’s best to hire a personal injury attorney who can represent your interest.
An experienced personal injury attorney can navigate the tactics used by the motorcycle insurance company to pay as little as possible on your claim.
The team at 801-INJURED can negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf to make sure you get the best possible settlement for your damages.