Idaho Insurance Law
Insurance Claim Process - what to expect
The justice system allocates money to accident victims based on their damages -- that is, the injuries and losses they have suffered as a result of the other person's wrongdoing. Idaho law divides your damages into two rough categories: Economic damages, for financial costs arising because of the injuries and non-economic damages, for intangible but very real losses like the loss of a loved one's care and comfort. To collect money for those damages, you will usually have to prove – either to an insurer or to a jury -- that you suffered them. If the jury decides you have incurred the damages, it then decides how much money is appropriate for each claim you make.
It bears repeating -- insurance companies are not your friends. Make no mistake; their primary goal in the claims process is to save money by paying you the smallest amount they can. The less they pay you, the bigger their profits. For that reason, resolving your insurance claim without legal advice can be very risky. The system is stacked against people who are not represented by attorneys. Insurance companies have their own layers and well-trained adjusters who are familiar with the system and how to work it to their advantage. The insurance companies are in business to make money, and they do this by paying you as little as possible – even if it's less than the fair value of your claim.
When insurance claims adjusters begin working on your claim, they will crunch the numbers and come up with a range of values that they would be willing to pay.
It is important to realize that to the insurance adjusters, for the most part, you are just a claim number or a "file" not a real person. Typically, they will then make you an offer from the low end of that range. You do not have to take it. Many, maybe most, people don't realize this, but they have every right to negotiate if they believe the offer is too low. Insurance companies rely upon an people's politeness, fear of bargaining, trusting nature or ignorance of their rights to keep them from negotiating. In the best-case scenario, and it happens often, you can reach an acceptable and fair agreement with the insurance company without getting a lawyer involved.
However, victims of serious injuries are unlikely to be in the best-case scenario, because serious injuries tend to be very expensive. That means they need to be on the lookout for insurance company tricks and pressure tactics. After a serious accident, representatives from insurance companies have been known to contact accident victims within days or weeks to discuss a settlement. They might offer victims a small amount of money; ask them to sign something; or record a statement; or pressure them to settle right away, before the injured person has time to learn the full extent of the injuries.
Down The Road
This can have bad consequences down the road, because if you take a financial settlement from an insurance company, your claim is considered closed. If your doctor later says you need more medical care than you thought, you can't go back to the insurer and get more money. That's why we strongly recommend that clients wait a substantial amount of time before settling. If you feel at all pressured or suspicious, it's best to politely decline the insurance company's calls until you can speak to us or another injury law firm about your rights.
In the worst cases, insurers have been known to simply deny expensive claims that should be covered under the applicable insurance policy. They may use technicalities or half-truths, or simply accuse you of lying about how the accident happened. Sometimes after stringing you out a long time, they just stop returning your phone calls. When this is done intentionally by your own insurance company it might be something called insurance "bad faith." It is illegal. If you believe you are a victim of insurance bad faith, please contact us right away for a free consultation at which we can review your insurance policy and the facts of your case.