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A Word of Caution About Insurance Companies

TV INFLUENCES HOW YOU THINK

Insurance companies advertise on TV so that you will identify with their feel-good slogans. One of the principles of advertising is that if they smile and say the same things enough times, then you will identify with their message. Be careful! A cute little lizard, with good hands, who has seen it all, is not going to protect you from mayhem.

INSURANCE COMPANIES DO NOT HAVE A CODE OF ETHICS

In practice they smile at you when they take your money and play hardball when you have a claim. They do business in the world of individual catastrophe. In theory they spread the risk of financial disaster by collecting premiums and paying claims. In practice, insurance companies are monolithic money-making corporations run by shrewd businessmen. The goal of a corporation is to make money for their shareholders. They will do that with your insurance claim if you let them get away with it.

ARE THERE RULES FOR INSURANCE COMPANIES?

In Washington State your insurance company has an obligation of good faith and fair dealing when dealing with you their first party insured or third-party claimants. If your insurance company treats you fairly you are lucky. However, don’t hold your breath waiting to see evidence of their good faith. If your own insurance company does not treat you fairly then talk to a lawyer or contact the Office of the Insurance Commissioner

Your own insurance company’s good faith duty requires them to protect the interests of their insured. If it’s your insurance company, then the insured is you. They are required by contract to defend you and indemnify their insured client. However, they do not owe you a settlement. They are required to exercise good faith when dealing with you. That means they must respond promptly, thoroughly investigate, and pay within a reasonable time. In the end, they are looking for a release of all claims from you, and nothing more.

The insurance company for the other guy owes you nothing. They may offer you a settlement in exchange for your release. They however are not talking to you because it’s the right thing to do. They are talking to you because they have to, to get the release signed by you. They would like you to settle cheap, so they can save their company some money. If you can get them to settle for a fair amount, then congratulations. If not then hire a lawyer, file a lawsuit, and you and your lawyer can show them what they owe you.

Once your lawyer files a lawsuit, you will have their attention. They will notice you because they must start paying their attorneys. They will have to meet court deadlines and keep up with your attorneys demands for discovery depositions, interrogatories, and requests for production. Your lawyer should keep them so busy that they will want to settle your case.

DO YOU WANT THE INSURANCE COMPANY TO PAY ATTENTION TO YOU?

Then hire a good lawyer.

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