Your Claim Has Been Denied: Now What?Car accidents are an unfortunate reality. There are an average of 6 million car accidents on our roads and highways every year.
Safety advances in cars have certainly benefited drivers. The majority of accidents that occur are minor, and the amount of fatalities and serious injuries are comparatively small.
Believe it or not, it isn’t the big accidents that worry insurance companies. While big accidents are certainly more expensive than the smaller fender benders, they happen with a lot less frequency. Insurance companies end up paying out more for minor accidents every year than they do for the bigger accidents.
As a result, it is in the best interest of insurance companies to deny or whittle down as many smaller claims as they possibly can. This means that they will try to either “bargain” with you (which usually involves making it sound like you have no choice but to accept,) or they will come up with a reason to deny your claim.
As frustrating as it can be, insurance companies do have perfectly valid reasons for denying your claim. Among them are:
Lapsed Coverage: This is an obvious one, but you would be surprised how many people forget to pay their insurance bill. Not paying your premiums on time can cause your policy to lapse, which could be very bad for you if the accident was your fault. Many people also overestimate the grace period, and believe that they still have coverage when they in fact do not.
Uninsured Motorist Claim: You made an Uninsured Motorist Claim under your policy and it turns out the other party to the accident actually had insurance. This is usually only a minor headache, because all you have to do is file your claim with the so-called “uninsured” motorist’s provider.
Driver of Car Wasn’t On The Policy: Many of us have children of driving age, and many of us simply take it for granted that their children will somehow automatically be placed on the policy. Unless you specifically put your children or other drivers on the policy, you could be in for a bad shock if an accident happens.
You Only Have Liability Insurance: There is no shame here. Many of us with older cars fail to see the point of purchasing a bumper to bumper insurance policy for our cars. Liability insurance only covers the damage that you are responsible for. If the accident was your fault, the other driver will get his bills paid, but nothing else.
The Damage Goes Over The Policy Maximum: This rarely happens with minor accidents. This is usually reserved for accidents with severe damage to people and property. Insurance policies are bought for a set amount, and an insurer will pay exactly what it is supposed to, but not a penny more.
These are all perfectly legitimate reasons for insurers to deny a claim. But if you read the insurance companies reasons for the denial and they don’t seem to add up with your policy, you have legal options available to you besides simply accepting the insurance company’s decision.
Write or E-mail The Insurance Company, Don’t Call: Phone calls are funny things. They last for a certain period of time, and then they are gone forever. Sure, there might be a record of you calling another person, but there is no record concerning what you talked about. This is why all of your personal interaction with insurers should be done over e-mail or registered mail, and copies of all of your letters, e-mails and responses to both should be kept.
If you believe that the insurance company is wrong in denying your claim, you should write to them and explain why you think so, and provide them with documentation to support your reasons.
Appeal to the State Insurance Commissioner: The Georgia Insurance and Safety Fire Commission is set up to regulate any insurance companies that are operating in Georgia. The point is to make sure that all insurers in the state are operating in good faith and not simply denying claims for no reason.
Obtain the Service of an Attorney: You may have notice that most legal documents (insurance policies included) are loaded with practically impenetrable legal jargon. If you managed to decipher that something about your policy didn’t add up with what the insurance company was telling you, you should be proud of yourself.
The hard part is describing that difference to a judge, or to the insurance company attorneys that crafted the policy in the first place.
At the Dover Law Firm, our job is protecting the rights of the injured, and most of the time that means we’re dealing with insurance companies and their attorneys. Through our years of experience, we’re very good at spotting where insurance companies are treating their policyholders fairly and where they aren’t. The aftermath of a car accident can be a frustrating experience, and not one that you should go through alone.
If you or a loved one has been in a car accident, and you feel that you aren’t being treated fairly, contact our offices for a free legal consultation today.