Having insurance is suppose to give you peace of mind. If you make a mistake and have an accident, you expect your insurance company will stand behind you, defend you and pay any sums which you owe. After all, this is the law. Insurance companies are required to defend you (if the accident is covered under your policy) and pay any sums owed to the injured person. This is why you have insurance and pay those premiums.
Up until recently, I have always believed insurance companies were fair when it came time to settle claims. However, I have noticed more and more that insurance companies are no longer being fair with many claims. Some insurance companies (their claims handlers) are now low-balling claims and not willing to pay accident victims fair compensation. To illustrate the point, I have a man who was in a bad accident. The at-fault driver (close to age 90) drove down the wrong way on a highway. My client’s car was totaled and he was taken by ambulance to the hospital. He then received medical and chiropractic care. My client incurred about $14,000.00 in medical bills and some wage loss. He was diagnosed with a mild permanent injury to his neck. The at-fault insurance company offered my client $4,250.00. I can tell you from being a civil trial specialist and practicing law and doing trial work for 26 years, the offer is outrageous. This “low-ball” offer is now forcing me to sue a very nice near 90 year old woman and her husband in district court. The offer given by the insurance company doesn’t even cover 25% of the incurred medical bills.
More and more insurance companies are subjecting their clients to lawsuits as a result of “belt tightening” and failure to pay fair sums on claims. I would love to warn you, the reader, as to the offending companies but I don’t to be accused of defamation. My suggestion is that you check with your insurance company and see what the statistics are for cases being settled versus cases being placed into suit. You want an insurance company that will protect you from lawsuits and not encourage lawsuits. There would be far less attorney ads and law school admissions IF insurance companies returned to days gone by when everyone worked together to do what is fair. Until the pendulum swings back to fairness, more and more policy holders are gong to find themselves in a lawsuit if they cause an accident.
To give your self the best protection, everyone should have at least 100/300 limits for liability coverage and if possible, have a 1M umbrella policy.
Richard W. Hechter, J.D. MBA