Paid to Underpay

Posted on July 8, 2020 by Chip Merlin

Insurance adjusters are frequently trained to guard the carrier’s bottom line, not yours 

In recent years, the relationship between policyholders and insurance companies has deteriorated, leading to an explosion in the number of disputes that end up in court. And it’s only going to get worse.

The cause of the friction is simple. Insurance carriers want to boost profits. One effective way to do that is to pay as little as possible on claims. Many companies actually train adjusters to underpay. Adjusters deliberately fail to disclose benefits, and the insurance company wins because most people don’t read their policies, much less understand them fully. They trust the adjuster to be fair, which is often a big mistake. As President Ronald Reagan so famously said, “Trust, but verify.”

In a previous blog, I mentioned that I was in a minor fender bender some months back. An older guy hit my car. When I discussed the loss with the man’s insurance adjuster, the adjuster conveniently failed to mention that I was entitled to compensation to make up for the reduced value of the vehicle due to the accident. Of course, being an expert attorney in property insurance disputes, I pointed out that the settlement had better include payment for loss of value. It did, but only because I knew enough to ask.

Adjusters are often trained to dispute the reasonableness of claims. If it’s possible to deny or dispute claims, the company will usually act in its own favor instead of being fair to you as the policyholder. Adjusters use intimidation to get their way for the company as well. Some adjusters try to get you to do all the work to document the loss and to get estimates for repairs, all in the hope that you’ll be too lazy and will give up. If that happens, the company wins. 

Obviously, this ill treatment translates into an adversarial relationship between you and the insurance company covering the loss. If things get really out of hand, I receive a call. If lawyers aren’t your cup of tea but you still need help settling a dispute with your insurance company, contact a state-licensed public insurance adjuster. While these professionals can’t practice law, they can do pretty much everything else to help you get the settlement you’re entitled to under the policy you paid good money for.  Look for members of state associations who are actively involved in your state’s insurance industry. Long-term experience and extra education also matter.

Not all insurance adjusters are the bad guys. Many are hard working professionals who must walk the fine line between covering for the company and settling with you. If your claim is complex, I recommend that you contact a public insurance adjuster right away. If you know there are legal issues involved in the case, call an attorney that specializes in property insurance disputes. You’ll be glad you did.


Justice For The Policyholder

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