Part I and Part II showed us that insurance companies will use delay and the recorded statement to their advantage. The goal is that if a lowball settlement offer isn’t accepted right away, to grind down the injured party to accept a lower amount or deny coverage. Another tactic insurance companies use to take advantage is a false sense of security.
How do insurance companies trick accident victims?
One of the first things adjuster might do is try to build rapport. This is to gain trust. Many people immediately feel the financial effects of a car accident. Medical bills quickly stack up and then there’s missed time from work. This can easily lead to feelings of distress, anxiety, and/or depression. It’s easy in these times to be vulnerable and seek a comforting voice.
An adjuster might ask an accident victim to tell their story. They won’t interrupt, just let them speak. They’ll ask to record the conversation because it’s necessary to process the claim. Most people feel awkward when there is silence or dead air so they’ll just keep talking. This is a strategy many lawyers use at deposition or trial to get a witness to “ramble” in a way that could hurt their claim.
Insurance adjusters will also use empathy as a way to build a sense of trust. With statements like “I’m so glad you weren’t injured!” By simply acknowledging that you weren’t injured with “oh I know” can provide a defense against you with your own words. The insurance company could argue that you yourself admitted you weren’t injured in the accident.
How do insurance adjusters use a false sense of trust to their advantage?
When someone feels comfortable with another person they will let their guard down. Vulnerability makes people say things they wouldn’t say otherwise. Unfortunately, by the adjuster gaining your trust, it’s like luring the fox into the hen house.
The law makes it illegal for insurance companies to lie outright or deceive, but there’s a gray area adjusters are trained in. They can mislead or test the limits of your knowledge. This is why meeting with a car accident attorney early on can be so important.
One way of doing this is to accept liability for their driver over the phone. But then it never follows in writing. They’ll tell you to get medical care and treatment and when you’re all done they’ll pay for the bills. This is to make the accident victim believe the insurance company is treating them fair and reasonable. But when the bills are submitted, many times the insurance adjuster will say that certain treatment wasn’t necessary and they’ll only cover a fraction of the cost.
Insurance companies don’t want you to hire a seasoned car accident lawyer. By gaining the injured victim’s trust, it can falsely lead them to believing it’s in their best interest to get things done quickly and smoothly without a lawyer. And let’s face it, most people would prefer not to have lawyers involved in anything. So this is an easy sales pitch. The problem is that the longer an injured victim waits to hire a car accident attorney, the tougher it may be to find one to take their case.
When a car accident victim believes this, it immediately puts them at a disadvantage. Adjusters do this on a daily basis. They’re paid bonuses on their average claim amounts, claims denied, and other various ways that devalue legitimate claims. If a lawyer isn’t involved, adjusters will test the victim’s knowledge of their rights.
This could be a release of medical records to look for pre-existing conditions to deny the claim. It could be saying prescription drugs are covered when they aren’t. Or maybe they’ll set a deadline to accept a settlement so it creates a sense of fear of missing out (there is no deadline by law to accept a settlement offer).
Insurance companies exist to make money. They’re a business. Don’t fall for these tricks and others!
My name is Daniel Hanecak and I am a San Diego Car Accident Lawyer. I know from personal experience how stressful and time consuming a car accident can be. When you call Hanecak Law Inc., you will speak with me directly. It is my aim to provide you with free and friendly advice. Call me today at (858) 206-4326 for a free case evaluation.
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Part I: Delay
Part II: The Recorded Statement