Insurance companies use a “3-D” strategy when responding to claims. They delay, deny, and defend in order to avoid paying out money. These five tips can help you “play the game” with your insurance company and get your claim settled the right way.
1. Inform your attorney about your medical history, including injuries, addictions, ailments and illnesses
Insurance companies share information and can track every claim you’ve ever made. Pre-existing medical conditions willbe revealed. Tell your attorney about past problems upfront, or insurers may argue that your injuries stem from earlier (or later) medical issues.
2. Keep your own records for all medical out-of-pocket expenses and lost income.
- Directly request your medical records. Collect copies of everything, including prescriptions, bills, and receipts for medicines taken. Save medicine bottles.
- Save all bills relating to your claim (hospital expenses, medicines, therapy, appliances, home aides – anything relevant to your recovery). Pay bills by check or credit card. If you must pay by other means, demand complete receipts with bill headings.
- Keep a complete record of all lost wages. Obtain a statement from your employer outlining time lost, rate of pay, hours worked weekly, and any relevant losses suffered. Where possible, obtain other types of evidence, like ledger sheets, check stubs, vouchers, pay slips, and copies of timecards.
3. Take notes – lots of them.
In court, these notes will illustrate how your life has changed because of the incident. Keep a daily record of your physical and emotional experiences after the incident, even if they seem uninteresting. Describe what you do when you get up in the morning, what type of effort you put into your job, and what non-work activities you do (e.g. exercise, reading). Describe all changes in your work, personal, and family life. Include medical notes about treatments, medications, hospitalizations, symptoms, setbacks and inconveniences.
4. Don’t talk. Don’t sign.
- Do not discuss your case with anyone – not even your family, friends, boss, or those responsible for the injury. Never, ever speak to the other party’s attorneys or insurer! Conversations can be recorded and used against you; the adverse party may photograph or videotape you at any time. Speak only with your attorney.
- Do not sign any documents without your attorney’s consent. If you get any letters from anyone in connection with your case, fax them to your attorney immediately. Keep a copy.
- Consult your attorney before making a report to your own insurance company. Familiarize yourself with the details of your policy.
5. Don’t throw any evidence away – it might be important
Keep anything that might be linked to your case, such as clothing, photos, defective parts/machinery, or foreign substances involved in your injury. Take photographs of all motor vehicles, appliances, and so forth that may be connected (directly or indirectly) with your accident.
By following these tips after an accident, you stand a much better chance of receiving your insurance payout.