Auto Insurance Company Tactics to Settle Claims

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#1
Has anyone dealt with an insurance company that ignores your eye witness account, as well as observations by the police and pays a propety damage claim when there was no damage? Here's my story and I'm looking for suggestions.

I was making a lane change and inadvertently nudged the car in the lane I was trying to move into with my passenger side, side-view mirror. I saw my mirror bump the other car near the front of the driver side door/front quarter panel. That was the only contact. Admittedly, after seeing that there was no damage, I left the scene. Apparently, in Maryland, that gives the other driver all the motive they need to call 1-800-LAWYER and sue my insurance company for property and injury claims. Here's where my complaint starts.

After sporadic and ineffective communications from my agents (one for property damage and one for the personal injury claim) I was forced to resort to calling the general policy-holder phone number. After five different calls to this number, I was able to report that neither I nor the local county police saw any damage to the other vehicle. How did the police get involved you ask? About three weeks after the incident, the police came to my house to investigate a reported hit and run. They told my wife that they saw no damage on the other vehicle and when my wife told them that there was no damage to my vehicle, they said they had no reason to issue a citation, or file an accident report. I duly reported this to the 800 number, and it wasn’t until my fourth call to that number that I was informed that my insurance company had already paid a claim to the other driver...!! And it wasn’t until I requested and received a call from a supervisor, that I was told the amount they paid for this claim...$2,400...!! How could they pay money for damage that didn’t exist according to what the police and I saw? How could my insurance company's adjusters be acting in the best interests of the policy-holder – me -- based on that...?? I was assured by the supervisor that their adjusters “knew what they’re doing,” that they were “better at seeing damage than the police,” and that they saw damage “consistent with a lane change.” My question to them was, how the heck could they know that when they didn’t even look at my car...?? I knew where my sideview mirror nudged the other car and somehow, according to their adjusters, that nudge created $2,400 worth of damage to the front and rear of her car...!! How is that even possible...especially when there isn’t even a scratch on my car...??

Even more unbelievable is that 1-800-LAWYER also filed a personal injury claim that is "still being investigated." I bet they're going to cave on that as well...despite the fact that (1) there was no accident and no accident report, and (2) I was moving at 4-5 mph at the time of contact...!!

Any thoughts regarding the actions of my insurance company are welcomed. Hopefully someone can tell me what recourse I have because my insurance company believed another driver and their 1-800-LAWYER over their own policy holder and the police...aside from the fact that they can quickly close out the claim and push the costs onto me. Supposedly, this company is noted for stellar customer service based on numerous JD Powers awards. I didn't know if it is appropriate to state the company's name in this first post...so I left it out...for now.
 
May 1, 2018
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#2
Larry, we can't give legal advice, and you shouldn't take legal advice from anyone but an attorney working for you.

and sue my insurance company for property and injury claims.
This is a misunderstanding. They aren't suing your insurance company - they're suing you! Your insurance company wasn't driving and is not responsible for the damage, you are. Not understanding this basic difference is why I'm telling you to get advice from a real attorney.

How could they pay money for damage that didn’t exist according to what the police and I saw?
It's a simple math problem - $2400 to settle all claims is cheaper than defending you in a lawsuit.

How could my insurance company's adjusters be acting in the best interests of the policy-holder – me -- based on that...??
They did act in your best interest by shielding you from additional liability. In order to receive the $2400, the other party would have to sign away their right to recover any additional monies in connection with this incident.

I knew where my sideview mirror nudged the other car and somehow, according to their adjusters, that nudge created $2,400 worth of damage to the front and rear of her car...!! How is that even possible...especially when there isn’t even a scratch on my car...??
You made contact, you are liable. Full stop. As mentioned above, $2400 to end all claims is getting off cheap.

Even more unbelievable is that 1-800-LAWYER also filed a personal injury claim that is "still being investigated." I bet they're going to cave on that as well...despite the fact that (1) there was no accident and no accident report, and (2) I was moving at 4-5 mph at the time of contact...!!
No. Like I said above, the $2400 payment will end all claims, including the personal injury claim. If you receive any further communication relating to this incident, you need to pass it along to your insurance company quickly.

Any thoughts regarding the actions of my insurance company are welcomed. Hopefully someone can tell me what recourse I have because my insurance company believed another driver and their 1-800-LAWYER over their own policy holder and the police
Your insurance company did you a solid. They quickly settled a lawsuit against you for peanuts and shielded you from further liability as a result of your negligence when operating a vehicle. Your recourse would be to call whoever handled your claim and thank them for taking care of this so quickly.
 
Jul 30, 2018
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#3
Well stated, Dan D!

Additionally, if 1800 Lawyers is pursuing a personal injury case against you, I highly recommend you cease posting any information about the accident in a public forum, since it could potentially be used against you.
 
Feb 12, 2019
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#4
No. Like I said above, the $2400 payment will end all claims, including the personal injury claim. If you receive any further communication relating to this incident, you need to pass it along to your insurance company quickly.
I'm not certain - but it sounds like the $2400 was the damage part of the claim. Damage & personal injury claims are worked separately for many reasons, but the biggest is because damage is easy to settle while personal injury is more difficult to assess and thus usually take a long time.

If there's a separate personal injury claim, the OP's insurance will likely settle it too. I went through this myself to the point of my insurance handed it off to their lawyer, and while the lawyer mentioned based on their medical records they didn't have a case (very sporadic and few visits most months after the accident) they'd likely settle vs taking it to court. Which they did.
 
Jun 12, 2019
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#5
Has anyone dealt with an insurance company that ignores your eye witness account, as well as observations by the police and pays a propety damage claim when there was no damage? Here's my story and I'm looking for suggestions.

I was making a lane change and inadvertently nudged the car in the lane I was trying to move into with my passenger side, side-view mirror. I saw my mirror bump the other car near the front of the driver side door/front quarter panel. That was the only contact. Admittedly, after seeing that there was no damage, I left the scene. Apparently, in Maryland, that gives the other driver all the motive they need to call 1-800-LAWYER and sue my insurance company for property and injury claims. Here's where my complaint starts.

After sporadic and ineffective communications from my agents (one for property damage and one for the personal injury claim) I was forced to resort to calling the general policy-holder phone number. After five different calls to this number, I was able to report that neither I nor the local county police saw any damage to the other vehicle. How did the police get involved you ask? About three weeks after the incident, the police came to my house to investigate a reported hit and run. They told my wife that they saw no damage on the other vehicle and when my wife told them that there was no damage to my vehicle, they said they had no reason to issue a citation, or file an accident report. I duly reported this to the 800 number, and it wasn’t until my fourth call to that number that I was informed that my insurance company had already paid a claim to the other driver...!! And it wasn’t until I requested and received a call from a supervisor, that I was told the amount they paid for this claim...$2,400...!! How could they pay money for damage that didn’t exist according to what the police and I saw? How could my insurance company's adjusters be acting in the best interests of the policy-holder – me -- based on that...?? I was assured by the supervisor that their adjusters “knew what they’re doing,” that they were “better at seeing damage than the police,” and that they saw damage “consistent with a lane change.” My question to them was, how the heck could they know that when they didn’t even look at my car...?? I knew where my sideview mirror nudged the other car and somehow, according to their adjusters, that nudge created $2,400 worth of damage to the front and rear of her car...!! How is that even possible...especially when there isn’t even a scratch on my car...??

Even more unbelievable is that 1-800-LAWYER also filed a personal injury claim that is "still being investigated." I bet they're going to cave on that as well...despite the fact that (1) there was no accident and no accident report, and (2) I was moving at 4-5 mph at the time of contact...!!

Any thoughts regarding the actions of my insurance company are welcomed. Hopefully someone can tell me what recourse I have because my insurance company believed another driver and their 1-800-LAWYER over their own policy holder and the police...aside from the fact that they can quickly close out the claim and push the costs onto me. Supposedly, this company is noted for stellar customer service based on numerous JD Powers awards. I didn't know if it is appropriate to state the company's name in this first post...so I left it out...for now.
I worked as an adjuster for many moons and I can feel your frustration on the process. I am going to start from the beginning. From what I am reading, you changed lanes into the other vehicle and your mirror struck the left fender (front quarter panel) and front door. Police came and did a report and noted that there was no damage to the other vehicle. The other party got an attorney and made a dubious claim against your policy in which your insurance company paid. They also opened an injury claim which your insurance company is still investigating. You are not happy that your insurance company paid on the property damages and have an injury claim open. You are also upset that your insurance company did not see your vehicle.

It appears that liability is not an issue as you reported the loss as a lane change. Your insurance contract probably has the wording "We will pay damages for "bodily injury" or "property damage" for which any "insured" becomes legally responsible because of an auto accident. Damages include prejudgment interest awarded against the "insured". We will settle or defend, as we consider appropriate, any claim or suit asking for these damages. In addition to our limit of liability, we will pay all defense costs we incur." This gives your insurance company the option to settle or defend against the reported claim. This also gives them the option to settle the claim at their discretion. Since the already resolved coverage and liability, the adjuster job is to pay a fair amount on the claim that would not expose you to any further litigation. I suspect that your insurance company got a representation letter from the other party and assigned the claim to an adjuster that handles the Bodily Injury claim. The focus now shifts to defending the BI claim and not the PD claim. More than likely, the other vehicle went to a shop that the attorney recommends and they did their best to boost the labor rates and repair times. The fender can be damaged easily and your mirror could of dented the fender upon further inspection. Even with paint transfer, there would still be repairs that will be needed. They should of looked at your vehicle to make sure the damages claimed could of been caused by your mirror. $2400 does seem awfully high and I would ask your insurance company to provide you a copy of the estimate and pictures. There are other costs, like rental, that is paid through the PD coverage on your policy. They can't unpay the settlement but maybe they can change it on the underwriting end so your premium would not be affected.

Your insurance company has a duty to investigate the injury claim, no matter how dubious. Sounds to me that the claimant is just trying to get some money and was swayed by all of the personal injury commercials. If the insurance company refuses to investigate the injury claim, the attorney could sue you, not your insurance company, for the alleged injuries. Even though your insurance company is not a party to the lawsuit, they are contractually required to defend you. Even if they truly believe that there is no injury claim, it would cost them to get an attorney to defend you. I personally have went to small claims court and the judge only gave a judgement on the PD portion and did not consider the BI portion because he questioned the causation. Even though we eventually prevailed, I had to spend half of my day in small claims but the claimant only got $2600 on a $7500 claim. It did make sense for me to assist the insured in the small claims in that case. I had the authority to settle the BI claim at 700-1000 and would of gladly settle within that range if the claimant agreed. Hell! I was forced to settle a BI claim for a bumper tap at McDonald's drive through for $400.00 when I wanted to defend the claim. Not fair to the insured but it made good business sense. Depending on how the negotiations go, I suspect that they will agree to a small settlement. It becomes a chargeable injury accident against your record, which is totally unfair.

There maybe little you can do the change what your insurance company is doing as they are doing things in the best interest of the company and not you. I just wanted to give you an insight on what is going on at the insurance company.
 
#6
Larry, we can't give legal advice, and you shouldn't take legal advice from anyone but an attorney working for you.



This is a misunderstanding. They aren't suing your insurance company - they're suing you! Your insurance company wasn't driving and is not responsible for the damage, you are. Not understanding this basic difference is why I'm telling you to get advice from a real attorney.



It's a simple math problem - $2400 to settle all claims is cheaper than defending you in a lawsuit.



They did act in your best interest by shielding you from additional liability. In order to receive the $2400, the other party would have to sign away their right to recover any additional monies in connection with this incident.



You made contact, you are liable. Full stop. As mentioned above, $2400 to end all claims is getting off cheap.



No. Like I said above, the $2400 payment will end all claims, including the personal injury claim. If you receive any further communication relating to this incident, you need to pass it along to your insurance company quickly.



Your insurance company did you a solid. They quickly settled a lawsuit against you for peanuts and shielded you from further liability as a result of your negligence when operating a vehicle. Your recourse would be to call whoever handled your claim and thank them for taking care of this so quickly.
Feeback noted...thanks...following your advice...this is my last transmission on this issue
 
Likes: calihankl
Jun 12, 2019
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#7
Larry, we can't give legal advice, and you shouldn't take legal advice from anyone but an attorney working for you.



This is a misunderstanding. They aren't suing your insurance company - they're suing you! Your insurance company wasn't driving and is not responsible for the damage, you are. Not understanding this basic difference is why I'm telling you to get advice from a real attorney.



It's a simple math problem - $2400 to settle all claims is cheaper than defending you in a lawsuit.



They did act in your best interest by shielding you from additional liability. In order to receive the $2400, the other party would have to sign away their right to recover any additional monies in connection with this incident.



You made contact, you are liable. Full stop. As mentioned above, $2400 to end all claims is getting off cheap.



No. Like I said above, the $2400 payment will end all claims, including the personal injury claim. If you receive any further communication relating to this incident, you need to pass it along to your insurance company quickly.



Your insurance company did you a solid. They quickly settled a lawsuit against you for peanuts and shielded you from further liability as a result of your negligence when operating a vehicle. Your recourse would be to call whoever handled your claim and thank them for taking care of this so quickly.
PD claims are not usually settled with a release. I don't think the $2400.00 extinguished all of the claims as the OP stated that the BI is still under investigation. I had releases that only settled the PD or BI and had a release to settle everything. If the insurance company did have them sign a release of all claims for 2400, that is pretty impressive.
 
#9
I worked as an adjuster for many moons and I can feel your frustration on the process. I am going to start from the beginning. From what I am reading, you changed lanes into the other vehicle and your mirror struck the left fender (front quarter panel) and front door. Police came and did a report and noted that there was no damage to the other vehicle. The other party got an attorney and made a dubious claim against your policy in which your insurance company paid. They also opened an injury claim which your insurance company is still investigating. You are not happy that your insurance company paid on the property damages and have an injury claim open. You are also upset that your insurance company did not see your vehicle.

It appears that liability is not an issue as you reported the loss as a lane change. Your insurance contract probably has the wording "We will pay damages for "bodily injury" or "property damage" for which any "insured" becomes legally responsible because of an auto accident. Damages include prejudgment interest awarded against the "insured". We will settle or defend, as we consider appropriate, any claim or suit asking for these damages. In addition to our limit of liability, we will pay all defense costs we incur." This gives your insurance company the option to settle or defend against the reported claim. This also gives them the option to settle the claim at their discretion. Since the already resolved coverage and liability, the adjuster job is to pay a fair amount on the claim that would not expose you to any further litigation. I suspect that your insurance company got a representation letter from the other party and assigned the claim to an adjuster that handles the Bodily Injury claim. The focus now shifts to defending the BI claim and not the PD claim. More than likely, the other vehicle went to a shop that the attorney recommends and they did their best to boost the labor rates and repair times. The fender can be damaged easily and your mirror could of dented the fender upon further inspection. Even with paint transfer, there would still be repairs that will be needed. They should of looked at your vehicle to make sure the damages claimed could of been caused by your mirror. $2400 does seem awfully high and I would ask your insurance company to provide you a copy of the estimate and pictures. There are other costs, like rental, that is paid through the PD coverage on your policy. They can't unpay the settlement but maybe they can change it on the underwriting end so your premium would not be affected.

Your insurance company has a duty to investigate the injury claim, no matter how dubious. Sounds to me that the claimant is just trying to get some money and was swayed by all of the personal injury commercials. If the insurance company refuses to investigate the injury claim, the attorney could sue you, not your insurance company, for the alleged injuries. Even though your insurance company is not a party to the lawsuit, they are contractually required to defend you. Even if they truly believe that there is no injury claim, it would cost them to get an attorney to defend you. I personally have went to small claims court and the judge only gave a judgement on the PD portion and did not consider the BI portion because he questioned the causation. Even though we eventually prevailed, I had to spend half of my day in small claims but the claimant only got $2600 on a $7500 claim. It did make sense for me to assist the insured in the small claims in that case. I had the authority to settle the BI claim at 700-1000 and would of gladly settle within that range if the claimant agreed. Hell! I was forced to settle a BI claim for a bumper tap at McDonald's drive through for $400.00 when I wanted to defend the claim. Not fair to the insured but it made good business sense. Depending on how the negotiations go, I suspect that they will agree to a small settlement. It becomes a chargeable injury accident against your record, which is totally unfair.

There maybe little you can do the change what your insurance company is doing as they are doing things in the best interest of the company and not you. I just wanted to give you an insight on what is going on at the insurance company.
Now this is excellent advice and feedback...thank you for your valuable insights...!! Regarding the PI claim...if there was no accident reported, or recorded, how can an accident be charged against my driving record?
 
Likes: calihankl
Jun 12, 2019
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#10
Now this is excellent advice and feedback...thank you for your valuable insights...!! Regarding the PI claim...if there was no accident reported, or recorded, how can an accident be charged against my driving record?
The accident is not being charged to your driving record, it is being charged against your loss record. It would be used to determine your rates in the future.
 
#13
Thank you Calihankl...!!
Dear Calihanki...since you were so kind and helpful providing me your informed perspective on my auto insurance situation, I was hoping you might weigh in on the latest events. My insurance company just called to explain that they decided to follow up on my assertions that the claims made against me by the other driver were dubious at best. They agreed to come and look at my vehicle, which they refused to do before, and they intend to rescind a BI settlement to the other driver's injury attorney while they further investigate the incident. They said they had expected the attorney would have refused their settlement offer anyway, and that I may hear from their attorney. Should I be happy or scared?
 
Jun 12, 2019
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#14
Dear Calihanki...since you were so kind and helpful providing me your informed perspective on my auto insurance situation, I was hoping you might weigh in on the latest events. My insurance company just called to explain that they decided to follow up on my assertions that the claims made against me by the other driver were dubious at best. They agreed to come and look at my vehicle, which they refused to do before, and they intend to rescind a BI settlement to the other driver's injury attorney while they further investigate the incident. They said they had expected the attorney would have refused their settlement offer anyway, and that I may hear from their attorney. Should I be happy or scared?
It sounds to me that they made the claimant's lawyer a nuisance offer, meaning an offer to make them go away and stop bothering them. They had a range to settle and from the negotiations they felt that they will not be able to settle in that range. They feel that this is going to possible litigation and needs to have all the evidence they need to properly defend you. They need to take pictures of your vehicle because they need to show causation. The claimant may be making claims for damages that does not fit with your vehicle.

You should be happy that your insurance company decided to have an attorney to defend you. It probably means they think the other party is being completely unreasonable and that hiring an attorney would be cost effective. It saves you from hiring an attorney. You should refer all futures questions to your insurance company's attorney and not to this board once that happens. Though it is not your attorney, the insurance company's attorney will protect the insurance company's interest, which happens to be your interests.

You would still be welcome to get your own attorney at your own cost but the ultimate decision to pay or not pay lies with your insurance company. If you would to hire your own attorney, they may fight to prevent any BI settlement as that would affect your rates. In my experience as a adjuster in CA, one BI payment on your loss experience makes you ineligible for the good driver discount, which is usually 20%.

Good Luck with this and make sure your insurance company keeps you in the loop.
 
#15
It sounds to me that they made the claimant's lawyer a nuisance offer, meaning an offer to make them go away and stop bothering them. They had a range to settle and from the negotiations they felt that they will not be able to settle in that range. They feel that this is going to possible litigation and needs to have all the evidence they need to properly defend you. They need to take pictures of your vehicle because they need to show causation. The claimant may be making claims for damages that does not fit with your vehicle.

You should be happy that your insurance company decided to have an attorney to defend you. It probably means they think the other party is being completely unreasonable and that hiring an attorney would be cost effective. It saves you from hiring an attorney. You should refer all futures questions to your insurance company's attorney and not to this board once that happens. Though it is not your attorney, the insurance company's attorney will protect the insurance company's interest, which happens to be your interests.

You would still be welcome to get your own attorney at your own cost but the ultimate decision to pay or not pay lies with your insurance company. If you would to hire your own attorney, they may fight to prevent any BI settlement as that would affect your rates. In my experience as a adjuster in CA, one BI payment on your loss experience makes you ineligible for the good driver discount, which is usually 20%.

Good Luck with this and make sure your insurance company keeps you in the loop.
Dear Calihani...you are so unbelieveably helpful...and so quick to respond...thank you again very much...!! Your insights are so great because they expose the "man behind the curtain!" How interesting was it the way they characterized their decision to finally look at my vehicle...fascinating...!! Noted on any future legal discussions if and when they occur...and thank you again.
 
Likes: calihankl