SECRETS of State Farm Car Accident Claims Handling Exposed!By Stewart J. Guss on August 3rd, 2014
The biggest secret of a State Farm car accident claim is this: Every single insurance company has one thing in common—they want to pay you as LITTLE as possible. Please don’t feel offended—it is not personal, it’s just how they make money. They charge monthly premiums, which most customers dutifully pay each month, only to try to avoid paying out when people REALLY need it.
Despite all of the “good neighbor” marketing—frequently presented in television ads by Golden Globe nominee Dennis Haysbert and Academy Award-winning actor J.K. Simmons, or Green Bay Packers superstar quarterback Aaron Rodgers—State Farm is not there to be your friend, be your neighbor, or loan you a cup of sugar when you’re baking cookies with your kids. It is there to make money, nothing more and nothing less.
The trick to doing that as an insurance company is to take in as much as you can in premiums, and pay out as little as you can in claims. Again, it’s not personal to State Farm—it’s math. It’s a business, like any other, and State Farm is there to make money. If you want a “good neighbor,” I’m sorry, but you’re going to have to move in next door to Mr. Rogers!
If you don’t want State Farm to make a profit by underpaying YOUR claim, keep reading.
State Farm Insurance Claims: Secret 1
The first secret of dealing with a State Farm car accident claim is to find out who your adjuster is. If you find out that your claim was handed to a “Team” of adjusters (such as the notorious “Team 22”), in my experience, you can be sure of one thing— State Farm will NOT offer you a fair value for your claim. If State Farm assigns your claim to a “team” of adjusters, it means the company considers it a lower value / lower risk claim and it is going to lowball you every step of the way. A “team” adjuster assignment means State Farm considers yours a “minor” accident versus a major injury claim, a difference that I explored in more depth here.
While ALL of the adjusters have the same goal in mind (to pay as little as possible), the team adjusters have the very lowest levels of authority and are only able to make low-dollar offers on any claim. Typically speaking, if you end up having to file a lawsuit, State Farm will reassign your claim to an individual adjuster. While this is no guarantee of an increase in the settlement offer, typically State Farm will up its offer once you file a lawsuit.
State Farm Insurance Claims: Secret 2
The next secret of dealing with State Farm is the recorded statement—specifically, that you do not have to give one! To clarify, when you are making a claim against the person who hit your car (what we car accident attorneys call a “third party claim”), you are NOT obligated to give a recorded statement to the State Farm adjuster, even though its adjusters will make you think it is a “required” part of the claims process. When I represent someone who was injured in a car accident and I’m up against State Farm, I will deny the request for a recorded statement about 95 percent of the time. Why do they need it?
If they have questions about the facts of the accident, they can look at the police report (if you read my “what to do after a car accident” article, you know that getting the police to investigate is critical.) If they have questions about your injuries, they can look at the complete copies of medical records and bills you will send them after you are finished with treatments. The reason the State Farm adjuster wants to take a recorded statement is simple—it has a list of leading questions it is going to ask that are designed to elicit the answers that will best suit its needs.
For example, they are less likely to make an open-ended statement, such as “Tell me about all of your injuries.” Rather, they may ask something like, “How are you feeling today?”—a question designed for you to give the reflexive answer of “Fine.” If you go back and change your story later, they have you “on record” and WILL use what you said against you! Keep in mind, many times people feel a LOT worse a day or two AFTER a collision. You may give a recorded statement to a State Farm adjuster the day of the accident, inadvertently say that you are “okay,” but feel so much pain the next day you can’t even get out of bed. There is no legal requirement that you give a recorded statement when making a third party car accident injury claim against State Farm!
State Farm Insurance Claims: Secret 3
Another thing that State Farm will do to keep compensation out of the hands of the people who rightfully deserve it is to go digging into their past to find ANYTHING that could justify reducing or even completely denying a claim. It will accomplish this by making unreasonably broad medical record requests and going through the files you send with a fine-toothed comb, even if they are decades old, looking for anything that could qualify as a pre-existing condition. So the third secret of handling a claim with State Farm insurance is taking great care with the medical records you hand over. For this reason, have the legal team at Stewart J. Guss, Attorney at Law, carefully review every request for medical records made by the insurance company.
Let’s consider a situation in which a car accident victim sustained extremely serious injuries in a rear-end collision and is suffering from debilitating neck pain. If an insurance company got wind of a 20-year old neck injury that occurred while the victim was playing soccer in high school, it may attempt to use it as a way to justify reducing the compensation it offers the victim. For this reason, NEVER give the insurance company authorization to request medical records on your behalf. Deny any requests for records that seem overbroad or like they may not relate to your accident.
When you retain the team at Stewart J. Guss, Attorney at Law, we will handle all communications with the insurance company on your behalf and make sure that it only obtains medical records that are relevant to your case. We know a fishing expedition when we see it, and also know how to take steps to fully protect our clients’ rights along every step of the way.
State Farm Insurance Claims: Secret 4
Secret 4 of handling a car insurance claim involves recognizing State Farm’s tactics. State Farm and other insurance companies are well aware of the financial pressures that accident victims can face. For this reason, they often take their sweet time when it comes to processing a claim, knowing all along that victims’ medical bills are piling up and they probably don’t have a way to pay. The medical expenses associated with a car accident can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, which could easily break the bank for most people in the United States.
Furthermore, many car accident victims cannot work for weeks or even months, leaving them without any income to cover their everyday expenses like rent or mortgage payments, food, medicine, and other bills.
The unfortunate reality is that insurance companies know this and use it to their advantage. They’re aware that victims are MUCH more likely to accept a low settlement offer when they’re staring at a pile of unpaid bills and haven’t been earned any money because of their injuries.
So they wait. They wait until they know that victims are so desperate that they’ll accept an offer for far less than what their injuries have cost them just to get some money to start paying their bills.
Victims must understand their options to manage pre-settlement expenses, so there is no need to rush into accepting a sub-standard settlement offer.
At Stewart J. Guss, Attorney-at-Law, we understand the pressures that car accident victims are facing and do everything we can to ensure that the insurance company treats you fairly and that you obtain the compensation you deserve in a timely manner. We know the tricks that insurance companies play and can see them coming from a mile away. For this reason, we can often head them off, letting them know that we mean business from the outset of your claim. If they refuse to play ball, we won’t hesitate for a second to file a lawsuit to get you the compensation that you need to move on with your life.
State Farm Insurance Claims: Trick Number 4
You know who State Farm adjusters hate dealing with? Experienced personal injury lawyers like ours at Stewart J. Guss, Attorney at Law. This is because they know that our firm is aware of State Farm’s tactics and won’t settle a case for less than our clients deserve.
For this reason, one of State Farm’s tricks is to do everything it can to keep you from retaining an attorney to represent you. Adjusters will reach out to you just days after an accident with a seemingly generous settlement offer that actually is far less than you deserve.
In addition, they will try to talk you out of retaining an attorney, telling you that doing so will only reduce the amount of money you ultimately receive. What they don’t tell you is that in most cases, the representation of a lawyer results in significantly more compensation for victims, even after factoring in attorney fees.
How an Experienced Car Accident Attorney Can Get You the Compensation You Deserve
These are just a few of the tricks that State Farm and other insurance companies use to pay injured victims as little as they can. The worst part about it is that these large companies are lining their pockets with cash—State Farm alone took in $63.9 billion in one year and has a net worth of more than $100 billion. Then they keep that money out of the hands of people who desperately need it to pay for their basic needs and who are injured through no fault of their own.
All while State Farm is paying a couple of Hollywood actors and an NFL quarterback to perform in their commercials.
This is why the attorneys and legal professionals of Stewart J. Guss, Attorney at Law, have dedicated their careers to helping injured victims get the compensation they deserve. We understand right from wrong and know that accident victims need help standing up to nameless and faceless corporations whose only priority is their bottom line.
Here are some of the specific ways that an experienced lawyer can help you get the compensation you deserve from State Farm and other insurance companies:
- Protect your rights during the claims process – If you suffered an injury in an accident, the insurance company’s adjusters will not hesitate to take advantage of your rights. As discussed above, they may pressure you into releasing irrelevant medical records, try to trick you into making a statement that indicates that you were at fault for your accident, or even try to get you to sign away all of your rights for pennies on the dollar. The unfortunate reality is that they get away with this kind of conduct on a daily basis. They deal with insurance claims EVERY day, and most of the people they are dealing with were never hurt in a serious accident before and don’t have the experience to fight back. Once you retain an attorney who will handle all aspects of your insurance claim for you, you will ensure that your rights are fully protected and that the insurance company treats you fairly.
- Determine the ACTUAL cost of your injuries – Figuring out just how much a car accident case has cost you an EXTREMELY complicated task. While it may seem easy to determine your current medical expenses, repair bills, and lost income, what about your future medical expenses? What about your pain and suffering? In cases where victims are NEVER able to return to work, it’s necessary to figure out how much income they would have earned during the course of their entire careers, which is much more complicated than just taking a person’s salary and multiplying it by the number of years they had left before retirement. Determining the full value of a car accident claim often requires significant legal analysis and the assistance of actuarial professionals. Accident victims must retain an attorney before accepting a settlement offer. How can you even start to negotiate a fair settlement if you don’t even know how much your injuries have cost you? Worst of all, once you accept a settlement, it’s nearly impossible to go back and try to get additional compensation, so victims really only have one chance to get it right.
- Attempt to negotiate a fair settlement offer – The vast majority of personal injury cases settle out of court. When a case settles, it means that the insurance company accepts that its customer was responsible for the accident and pays the victim an agreed-upon amount of money in return for the victim releasing the insurance company and its customer from further liability. Reaching a fair settlement agreement takes both significant negotiation skills and an understanding of the law. Parties who are unfamiliar with the process are putting themselves at a distinct disadvantage if they choose to represent themselves in settlement negotiations. The legal team of Stewart J. Guss, Attorney at Law, consists of skilled negotiators who know how to get insurance companies like State Farm to pay up.
- Take your case to trial, if necessary – In some cases, the insurance company simply refuses to make a fair settlement offer, even in light of demonstrated losses and strong evidence that a customer was at fault. When this occurs, victims have no choice but to take their cases to court. At Stewart J. Guss, Attorney Law, we are experienced and aggressive litigators who are never afraid to take a case to trial when justice demands it. We won’t hesitate to go up against State Farm or any other large insurer to get our clients the compensation they deserve under the law.
These are just a few of the specific ways that an experienced car accident lawyer can help you navigate a State Farm car accident claim. Above all, remember that the insurance company is NOT on your side and will take every opportunity it has to keep as much money from you as it can. In fact, without a lawyer, no one involved in the claims process is on your side, except you. When you retain our law firm, you’ll have a team of experienced advocates in your corner that knows the tricks State Farm is going to try to use to minimize the amount of compensation you recover—and is thinking several moves ahead.
Several years ago, CNN’s Anderson Cooper did an excellent investigative piece about the claims handling procedures of State Farm and a couple of other major companies. What it boiled down to is this—State Farm was using the “Three D” approach—“deny, delay, and defend”—particularly on what they considered “lower impact” (i.e. the most common) claims.
State Farm found that by fighting as hard as possible against people making car accident claims, it significantly increased profit margins. Essentially, State Farm was exposed for making it so hard to pursue fair compensation that many people would give up the fight and just settle for the low offers. State Farm (and other insurance companies) argued that they need to play with such “hardball” tactics to fight fraud, but the fact is that only a very tiny percentage of auto accident claims are fraudulent.
I cannot keep count of the number of times I’ve represented a car accident victim making a claim against State Farm express shock at the way they are treated: “But it’s all those OTHER people that are abusing the system. I’ve got a legitimate claim and just want fair treatment!
Yep, I know—welcome to the world of the “Three Ds.”
How Can I Afford a Lawyer for My State Farm Car Accident Claim?
If you’re facing overwhelming medical expenses and losing income because your injury prevents you from working, retaining an expensive attorney to represent you may seem like a bad idea—especially when the insurance company is offering you money to just settle the case and move on.
Don’t think that way. ALWAYS retain a lawyer to represent you. This is true whether your case is almost certain to settle or it looks like it may head to trial.
The reality is there is ZERO financial risk associated with retaining one of the experienced personal injury attorneys at Stewart J. Guss, Attorney at Law. We offer completely free consultations, during which we will listen to your side of the story and determine whether you have a legal claim. You are completely free to shop around and consult other law firms after a consultation with us, and we charge no fee for the consultation whether you choose us or another firm to represent you.
In addition, with our NO WIN, NO FEE GUARANTEE, we will never collect legal fees from you unless we successfully recover a settlement or award on your behalf. If we don’t obtain compensation, you will owe us nothing for the representation and counsel we provided. By using a contingent fee arrangement, we’re able to provide legal representation to everyone who needs it, even if they are unable to pay for a lawyer up-front.
Call Us Today to Speak With Our Experienced Car Accident Lawyers
If you were injured and want fair treatment when making a State Farm car accident claim, call the offices of the nationally recognized personal injury legal team of Stewart J. Guss, Attorney at Law.
With principal offices in Houston, Texas, Stewart J. Guss and his team have fought against “hardball” adjuster tactics for more than 20 years. Remember, because we take all of our personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis, there is no charge for your consultation, and you will not owe us a DIME unless we win your case!
We are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so call us today at 800-898-4877 or contact us now by CLICKING HERE.