Do Insurance Companies Work To Help You?
As personal injury attorneys, Stillman and Friedland work all the time with insurance companies, negotiating to get the best compensation for their clients. While clients see insurance companies as service providers, it is important to remember:
• Insurance companies make money primarily by receiving premium payments and investing funds, and
• Insurance companies lose money by paying claims.
While the ins and outs of the insurance business are slightly more complex than those two basic statements, this is the reality that all our clients deal with when trying to receive compensation for injuries. Obviously, the insurance companies must provide a service in return for payment, but if they can keep overall claims payments lower, their profits will be that much greater. More money in your pocket means less in theirs.
In most cases, your attorney is trying to get a personal injury settlement from the other party’s insurance company. However, in quite a few cases, a client will be facing his or her own company. How does that work? In cases where a client is injured by a reckless or negligent uninsured driver, and the client had the foresight to purchase uninsured motorist insurance, the attorney will be pursuing a claim against the client’s own insurance company.
Tennessee, as we have discussed in previous posts, is one of the top 10 states for uninsured motorists in the U.S. With 20% of Tennessee motorists illegally driving without car insurance, that means one in five cars on the road carries no insurance. New penalties for driving uninsured introduced at the beginning of 2016 include a tripling of the fine to $300 and having the car impounded. In addition, the new statute makes it a misdemeanor to provide invalid (false or expired) insurance documentation. A new state computer system and compliance requirements for insurance companies will aid police and state troopers so they can verify insurance coverage.
Despite putting more teeth into the laws, we have yet to see any resultant reduction in rates of uninsured driving. Again, as we noted in a previous post, these drivers have higher accident rates, and rarely have assets which could be liquidated to provide compensation in lieu of insurance. This is why we always recommend that clients purchase high-limit uninsured motorist coverage.
While uninsured motorist coverage is your best bet, clients must recognize that they are now in an adversarial position vis-à-vis their own insurance provider. To pursue a successful claim, they must keep the following pointers in mind:
• Allow the attorney to be the sole contact to the insurance company
• Provide honest and complete information about prior injuries
• Use health insurance to cover medical expenses; your attorney can negotiate discounts on bills and increase the amount of the settlement that you keep.
• Seek consistent medical treatment for as long as needed, beginning in the immediate aftermath of the accident, and continuing treatment as recommended by your health care providers.
Remember, an experienced attorney knows your case’s value and the usual rate of financial recovery for your case. At Stillman and Friedland, we are here to offer expert advice and make sure that you get not the minimum insurance companies offer, but the settlement you deserve.
For your reference, we have included the relevant portions of the Tennessee amendments to the law regarding uninsured motorists:
SECTION 3. Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 55-12-139(c)(2), is amended by deleting the language “one hundred dollars ($100)” and substituting the language “three hundred dollars ($300)”.
SECTION 4. Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 55-12-139(c)(3), is amended by adding the following language as a new subdivision: A violation of subdivision (c)(1) is a Class A misdemeanor [Note: This means the perpetrator may be sentenced to up to one year in prison], if a person acts to demonstrate financial responsibility as required by this section by providing proof of motor vehicle liability insurance that the person knows is not valid.
SECTION 5. Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 55-12-139(c), is amended by adding the following language as a new subdivision (4): (4) If the driver of a motor vehicle fails to provide evidence of financial responsibility pursuant to this section, an officer may tow the motor vehicle as long as the officer’s law enforcement agency has adopted a policy delineating the procedure for taking such action.
As always, feel free to contact our office regarding the above information or anything else related to personal injury/auto accident cases. We are here to help.
Because we care…