Dealing With Your Insurance Company After an Accident
Many people stay with the same auto liability insurance carrier for decades, paying premiums year after year without question, and then are shocked at the shabby treatment they receive when they have been involved in an accident.
Loyalty accounts for nothing when it comes time for your insurance company to pay you. They play hardball from the moment you report the accident; business is business despite the advertising you are bombarded with and the birthday cards from your agent.
Notifying Your Insurance Company
When you make the required prompt notification to your insurance carrier of the accident, you will be given, among other things, a no-fault claim number and be told to expect a fill-in-the-blank form in the mail. These forms must be completed and returned within 30 days of the date of the accident. I have had clients denied all no-fault benefits by their insurers when their applications were less than a week late. Unless you have personal health insurance to fall back on, your medical care will abruptly end as soon as your no-fault carrier tells your physicians they are not going to pay your bills. Do not give the insurance company an easy excuse to deny your benefits and put a quick end to your urgently needed medical treatment.
Getting your health care providers paid, and recovering lost wages
Upon receipt of the completed claim forms, your carrier will then begin paying your health care providers for the treatment rendered for the injuries suffered in the accident, along with paying you 80 percent of your lost wages. Self-employed claimants have additional hurdles to clear before lost wage claims are considered, let alone fully honored. Expect to be asked to produce documentary evidence in the form of tax returns and detailed financial records to prove your actual lost earnings. The insurance company will not pay you based on what you think or estimate you have missed out on since being
injured in the accident.
I had a case recently where the insurance company hired forensic accountants to audit my client’s records and then used their certified report as the basis for reducing his lost earnings payments by 50 percent. The client was a successful, local building contractor who would have had a highly profitable year except for being rear-ended on the way to one of his job sites. It was the perfect example of adding insult to injury; his insurance company refused to pay him his actual lost wages, and because he could not work due to the injuries suffered in the accident, he nearly lost his business altogether.