Have you been involved in a major motor vehicle accident or suffered serious injuries through no fault of your own in West Virginia? Is your valid property damage, bodily injury, accident, or loss claim against your homeowner, motor vehicle, or life insurance company being denied in the West Virginia Panhandle, Monongalia, Tyler, or Wetzel County, WV? Are you being offered an inadequate settlement or being treated unfairly by an insurance company employee? Before you contact your insurance agent or say another word to your insurance adjuster, read this first!
Remember, the Insurance Adjuster Is NOT Your Friend!
You already know that insurance companies (like all companies) are in business to make a profit for their shareholders/owners. Unfortunately, for some there are no boundaries they won’t break to make a buck.
While many insurance companies are law-abiding, they are not your friend. Although the insurance adjuster may have went to your school, been a childhood friend, a neighbor, or someone you feel you can trust, rest assured that they most certainly do not have your interests in mind. Some adjusters have been known to blatantly lie, break policy contracts, and use dirty manipulative, fraudulent, and underhanded tactics to avoid meeting their legal duties. This applies whether you are dealing with the at-fault party’s insurance adjuster or your own insurance company to which you pay a monthly premium for home, vehicle, and life insurance! At Angotti & Straface Attorneys at Law, we do not tolerate this type of illicit behavior against our clients.
Know Your Rights
Insurance Disputes – Wrongful Claim Denial – Bad Faith Practices
Due to the ongoing, unprecedented level of wrongful denials of valid insurance claims, insurance coverage disputes, and questionable practices by insurance carriers in West Virginia, the Insurance Claims Legal Team at Angotti & Straface Attorneys at Law in Morgantown has prepared the following tips to help you understand your legal rights. Learn how to deal with insurance adjusters to help safeguard your right to recover the compensation you are entitled to under your insurance policy or that of an at-fault party.
Zip Your Mouth
Whether you have been seriously injured in an accident through no fault of your own and are pursuing recovery through the at-fault party’s insurer, your own insurance company, or are attempting to recover for a covered loss or peril under your home, auto, or life insurance policy, DO NOT speak to ANYONE regarding the incident until you have first consulted with your attorney! This especially applies to anyone calling from the insurance company, but also applies to law enforcement (aside from providing identification and the basic facts or requesting medical assistance), family members, friends, neighbors, coworkers, and social media (such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter).
How to Deal With Insurance Adjusters
Understand the Interrogation Process
If you have suffered a covered loss, you will be contacted at some point by an adjuster from the insurance company responsible for paying the claim. They will interrogate you to collect details regarding your loss and the incident in question. In many cases, you may not even realize that you are being interrogated or that what you say can and will be used against you to try to deny or minimize payment on your claim. This is not a failure on your part. Insurance adjusters can be masters at getting you to say what they want you to say, twisting your words, and then using them against you. That is their job.
Understand They Are Not Your Friend
Remember, insurance adjusters work for the insurance company. Regardless of how hard they may try to convince you otherwise, that is where their loyalty lies. Their job is to investigate the incident, determine liability, advise the insurance company on what you should be compensated, and negotiate with you to pay as little as possible for your claim.
Understand What They Want From You
The insurance adjuster wants to obtain evidence they can use against you. This can take several forms, but most often they will want to record a statement from you in the hopes that you are unprepared and slip up in your wording or provide conflicting accounts of the incident. You are not required to provide a statement during your first contact and you should NOT agree to provide this until you have had a chance to consult with your attorney.
1. DO NOT speak to the insurance adjuster or ANYONE else regarding the incident until you have first consulted with your attorney!
2. Record and document all conversations and interactions related to the incident, including dates, times, names, and duration of contact with medical providers, insurance adjusters and personnel, law enforcement, attorneys, and others, as well as the individual, company or organization they represent.
3. Never admit any level of guilt, fault, remorse, or say anything along the lines of “I’m sorry” or “I regret that this happened.” In West Virginia, due to the standard of comparative negligence statements such as these can be used to hold YOU liable for the incident – even if you had no fault at all. Instead of recovering for your losses, you may be held legally responsible.
4. If you don’t know something, state that. If you are unsure at all about anything and do not know with absolute certainty that it is a fact, simply say that you do not know. Do not exaggerate, make speculations, or assume anything about the incident.
5. You must not make any deviations from your initial statement. Therefore, it is critical that you have your entire understanding of the entire incident clear in your head, written down, and clarified with absolute certainty in advance of providing any official statement. Any deviation can be used to discredit your reliability.
6. Do not provide information about your medical history or sign a release for the insurance adjuster. Your medical history is private and legally protected. There is no requirement that you discuss any part of your medical history with the insurance adjuster. Notify the adjuster that you have been advised not to disclose the requested information at this time. Consult your attorney to learn more about how your medical history may be relevant, applicable to your case, and when it is acceptable to sign a medical release.
7. Do not provide the insurance adjuster with detailed information about any injuries, including the full extent of your injuries, treatments, or medical prognosis/chance of recovery until all prescribed medical treatments and therapies are completed and you have fully recovered. Keep any description as basic as possible, such as, “I suffered a head injury,” “My left side was injured,” or “I lost my right leg.” If they request additional information, notify the adjuster that you have been advised not to disclose additional details at this time.
8. Do not discuss the financial aspects of the claim until you have a full and accurate understanding of the actual calculation for past, present, and future amount of the loss (including compensation for pain, suffering, and other intangible/non-monetary losses).
9. After you have fully recovered and have a solid understanding of your total losses, be certain to secure written medical descriptions of your injuries from healthcare personnel directly involved in your care, as well as full, detailed proof and descriptions of any other relevant losses.
10. If the insurance adjuster offers an amount that is lower than your actual monetary losses, this is a clear sign that you should contact Angotti & Straface Attorneys at Law immediately. You should also contact us if you have reason to believe that you are being offered an amount that is unfair or out of line with your insurance policy coverage.
Contact Angotti & Straface Attorneys at Law
Empowering West Virginia Residents Since 1952
If you do not feel comfortable dealing with the insurance adjuster yourself, contact the personal injury lawyers at Angotti & Straface Attorneys at Law. Since 1952, our law firm has earned a longstanding reputation for empowering our clients. We provide cost-efficient, personal service with a focus on client care. If you are involved in a dispute with your insurance company or are having difficulty obtaining compensation for a covered loss, contact our Insurance Dispute Team right away.
Insurance companies do not intimidate us. If an insurance agent, adjuster, or authorized employee failed to act in accordance with their contractual obligations, treated you unfairly, or otherwise acted illegally, let us know. We hold unscrupulous insurance companies accountable. We do not yield. We do not back down. Protect your rights. Call now to request a complimentary case review: (304) 292-4381.
Our Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Attorneys Serve All of West Virginia.
Our Insurance Dispute Team Serves Tyler, Hancock, Ohio, Wetzel, Brooke, Monongalia, and Marshall County, WV.