Quick settlement of an insurance claim is rarely a good decision. While it is often necessary to begin some insurance provisions immediately after an accident, such as a rental vehicle or temporary housing, it is never a good idea to make a final settlement until all material case facts are evaluated. The speed of a claim settlement largely depends on the nature of the claim. However, if a claim involves an injury, there are some specific red flags to consider before signing off on any insurance company offer.
Insurance claims agents usually employ one of two methods. If the insurance claims adjuster thinks they can get a claim finalized at an amount much lower than the potential value of a lawsuit, then they may immediately make a stated “final” offer in an attempt to coerce the beneficiary into signing a full future medical claim release. It is never a good legal move to comply with the insurance adjuster in this case, and an experienced attorney will say never sign one at all. Allowing an insurance company to begin certain payments may be prudent because often the insurance protections are needed immediately, but do not finalize without legal case evaluation.
Claimants who do not accept an immediate offer can count on due diligence from the insurance carrier concerning each claimed item. Medical bills can be countered with requests for a second opinion from the insurance company network doctors. This will also occur in any Social Security Disability claim, as the federal government is systematically slow in settling any claim.
Insurance companies will often use legal authorizations to postpone a settlement payment in the hopes the beneficiary will become impatient and settle short. This is especially true when the claimant does not file suit. This process is called a “bad faith” negotiation and can result in an additional legal claim when the plaintiff attorney can prove bad faith in a court of law.
It is important for any potential claimant from any financially liable entity to discuss their particular case with an experienced and effective attorney who understands professional negotiation tactics and realizes bad faith offers immediately. Although a claim may be simple, there may also be multiple negligent parties that an injured novice individual may not realize. Retaining an attorney can mean a quicker settlement, and very often this can also mean a maximum claim settlement. Settling with one insurance company without getting approval from your own company can prejudice your rights to further settlement proceeds.