If I had a dollar for every time a client asked me why the other insurance company was taking so long, I’d be a rich man. Generally, the answer to this question is that they do not like to willingly pay money. However, if you have been the victim of an injury after a car crash, slip and fall or any other reason due to no fault of your own, you will find that the insurance companies have imposed certain steps to be taken regardless of how wasteful, time-consuming or duplicative they may be. These steps were likely imposed by people taking advantage of the system, so now, everyone gets delayed as a result of a few bad actors.
The first problem many people encounter is a slow response in getting their vehicle fixed by the other insurance company. What is going on behind the scenes is that the insurance adjuster assigned to your claim is supposed to take the statement of their own driver, any witnesses, and review the crash report before they will accept liability and pay for the damages. You can imagine how frustrating it can be and how much longer the process takes if any of those steps are delayed.
I also regularly encounter issues where there are multiple cars involved in an auto crash and the insurance companies get stalled trying to figure out who is to blame and to what degree. Needless to say, this can be a frustrating time because clients are often left without vehicles and are not being given the money they need to go out and get a new car. Many times I have been forced to file suit to recover the property damage of the vehicle and make an injury claim just to get someone’s attention. I have found that these lawsuits are successful in at least getting the property damages paid while the client continues to treat for their injuries. The injury claim then can be resolved later in the lawsuit.
The next delay phase occurs when it is time to pay for damages for the accident injury claim itself. In a demand, we typically give 30 days to respond. I have observed a common trick that insurance adjusters use to buy more time. Instead of taking the time to evaluate the demand and review all of the medical bills and records, if they get busy or backlogged, I have experienced them make claims that they need other records, sometimes as long as 10 years ago. The adjuster knows that chasing down those records will buy he or she more time to make an offer. This can be extremely frustrating and is not exhaustive of all of the delay tactics.
If an insurance company decides to hire a lawyer to assist them with a claim, the claim also can be delayed. By adding the lawyer to the picture, the plaintiff’s lawyer can no longer communicate directly with a represented party without permission. Thus, we have to relay all information to a lawyer who then sends it off to the insurance adjuster and can cause more delay.
Now, the injured party in a personal injury claim does have power. The ultimate remedy is being able to hold an insurance company’s feet to the fire in front of a jury. Keeping them honest in front of a jury is a powerful tool, but, jury trials take years to get to a conclusion and can again add to the delay.
How can I speed up the insurance claim?
Insurance companies are aware that they hold the purse strings, and thus can affect the timing of a claim. They are aware that if they delay and delay, some people will get frustrated and settle for less than the case is worth. At my office, we try to cooperate in our cases and provide as much information as quickly as possible in order to avoid unnecessary delays. We have found that insurance adjusters realize which law firms are playing “hide the ball” and which are trying to do the right thing. Once the law firm gets a good reputation with an insurance company/adjuster, the claims move much faster. Our firm, Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A., has been handling auto and personal injury claims for over 60 years. We have worked hard to become respected by the insurance companies and I know our clients are rewarded for that.