Most of us don’t read the fine print of our insurance policies. This can create problems because when you don’t all the power goes to the insurance adjuster and the insurance company when you suffer a loss. This almost inevitably results in a lower settlement than otherwise would have been paid if you knew what benefits your policy allows.
Think about it. How are you to know if you’re being ripped off if you’re ignorant about the claims process and what the fine print of your insurance contract means? While I always suggest getting advice from your insurance agent and doing business with a reputable public adjuster or an attorney specializing in property losses to guide you through the claims process, keep these main insurance red flags in mind just the same.
1. Claims adjuster in a hurry
If the claims adjuster seems reluctant to answer all your questions and anxious to rush you through the claims process, watch out! The adjuster works for the insurance company, not you, and if you allow yourself to be rushed through the process you’ll likely end up with less money.
Always double-check with your insurance agent to make sure that the adjuster hasn’t omitted key benefits from the settlement offer. Your agent knows what’s in your policy, even if you don’t.
2. Claims adjuster offers a great deal
If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If an adjuster offers to give you benefits you didn’t pay for just to supposedly expedite the process, be suspicious. You might be told to take your car to a “special body shop” that offers super deals on body work. You may even be told that extra work can be done under the claim. Believe me, this sort of thing happens. If it happens to you, report the adjuster to the state insurance commission.
3. Claims adjuster asks you to do all the work
It’s the adjuster’s job to do the legwork regarding your claim. If an adjuster asks you to get the estimates for repair costs, you’re being asked to do his or her job! That’s a big insurance red flag because it indicates that the insurance company may have a policy of making it so hard for policyholders to file a claim that they’ll give up.
A couple of months ago I was in a car accident that clearly wasn’t my fault. The driver’s insurance adjuster tried to get me to take my car to the body shop of his choice. I told him I’d be taking the car to my own service shop. The adjuster also failed to mention that I was entitled to compensation for loss of value on my car because of the accident. Convenient omission? Of course, being a lawyer, I knew my rights. When it comes to the claims process, ignorance is definitely not bliss!