As a Florida resident, you pay your insurance premiums faithfully, expecting that when disaster strikes, your provider/adjuster will have your back.
That’s not how it works.
Unfortunately, the reality of dealing with your insurance company after a claim can be FAR from smooth. Some adjusters, motivated by minimizing payouts for their companies, may resort to unfair tactics to deny or reduce your rightful compensation.
Knowing these tactics and your rights under Florida law is crucial to protecting yourself. Here are five common unfair tactics used by Florida adjusters and what you can do to protect yourself:
1. The Lowball Offer
The classic bait-and-switch involves the adjuster offering a ridiculously low settlement amount early on, hoping you’ll accept it quickly to avoid a prolonged claims process. Remember: adjusters have a good idea of the true value of your claim, so a lowball offer is likely a calculated attempt to take advantage of your emotional state or financial vulnerability.
Know Your Rights:
Florida Statutes Chapter 624 outlines unfair insurance practices. Accepting a lowball offer under pressure could constitute “unfair inducement,” giving you grounds to challenge the settlement later.
Combatting a Lowball Offer:
- Do Your Research: Before engaging with an adjuster, estimate your claim’s value by gathering evidence like repair quotes, medical bills, and lost wages.
- Don’t Rush into a Decision: NEVER accept the first offer, no matter how tempting. Tell the adjuster you’ll need time to review the offer and consult with an attorney if necessary.
- Consider a Lawyer: Consulting an experienced personal injury lawyer can level the playing field and ensure you receive fair compensation.
2. Delay Tactics
Sometimes, adjusters may slow down the claims process by requesting unnecessary paperwork, scheduling endless appointments, or simply by not responding to questions/inquiries quickly. This stalling is a tactic to wear you down and pressure you into accepting a lowball offer just to get the claim resolved.
Know Your Rights:
Chapter 626.954 in the Florida Statutes addresses unreasonable delays in insurance claim settlements.
Counteract Delay Tactics
- Document EVERYTHING: Maintain records of all communications with the adjuster. Note dates, times, and subject of the conversations.
- Set Deadlines: Give the adjuster reasonable deadlines for responses and document their failure to meet them.
- File a Complaint: If the delays persist, consider filing a complaint with the Florida Department of Financial Services.
3. The Blame Game
The adjuster may try to shift the blame for the accident/damage to you, potentially voiding your coverage. They may twist your words, misinterpret events, or even try to trick you into admitting fault.
Know Your Rights
Florida’s comparative negligence laws apportion fault in accidents, meaning that even if you are partially at fault, you may still be entitled to compensation.
Beating the Blame Game
- Limit what You Say: Stick to the facts and avoid making any statements that could be misconstrued as admitting fault.
- Gather Evidence: Secure witness testimonies, police reports, and any other documentation that supports your version of the incident.
- Consult with a GOLDLAW Lawyer: An experienced personal injury lawyer at GOLDLAW can advise you on how to handle the adjuster’s attempts to shift blame and protect your legal rights.
4. Evidence “Erosion”
The adjuster may downplay or try to question the validity of your evidence, such as medical records, witness statements, or vehicle repair quotes. They may even try to claim the evidence is fabricated.
Know Your Rights
Florida’s Evidence Code outlines the admissibility of evidence in legal proceedings. Your GOLDLAW lawyer can ensure your evidence is properly presented and considered.
Combating Evidence Erosion
- Collect strong evidence: Gather detailed and comprehensive evidence from the outset, including photos, receipts, and witness contact information.
- Maintain proper documentation: Ensure all medical records, repair quotes, and other documents are clearly dated and able to be verified.
- Work with a GOLDLAW lawyer: A GOLDLAW personal injury lawyer can help you present your evidence effectively and challenge any attempts to discredit it.
5. The Policy Puzzle
The adjuster might interpret or “twist” the wording of your insurance policy to deny coverage for legitimate claims. They might rely on obscure clauses or technical “loopholes” to justify their decisions.
Know Your Rights
Florida Statutes Chapter 627 regulates insurance contracts and prohibits unfair claim denial practices. Your GOLDLAW personal injury lawyer can analyze your policy and challenge any misinterpretations.
Solve the Puzzle
- Don’t accept the first offer: If the adjuster denies coverage based on policy interpretation, ask for a clarification and challenge their reasoning.
- Understand key terms: Research any unfamiliar terms or clauses in your policy and seek advice from a GOLDLAW personal injury lawyer if necessary.
- Stay informed: Stay updated on relevant Florida insurance laws and regulations to know your rights and how to protect yourself.
Facing unfair insurance tactics can be overwhelming, but remember, you are not alone. Knowing your rights under Florida law and understanding the common tricks used by adjusters empowers you to fight back. By gathering evidence, staying informed, and seeking legal counsel from GOLDLAW, you can stand up to unfair practices and ensure you receive the compensation you rightfully deserve. Don’t let the insurance industry’s game of smoke and mirrors obscure the bright light of justice. Hire GOLDLAW and fight for your fair share! Because in the end, you hold the policy, and you hold the power to demand fair treatment.