The Insurance Company Isn’t Helpful - What Should I Do?
If you’ve recently been involved in an automobile accident, your life has probably gotten a lot more complicated. Maybe your car is drivable, or maybe it isn’t. If it’s not drivable, you’re stuck with the hassle of finding a rental vehicle. Even if you can still drive your car, you’re dealing with the issue of obtaining estimates and having your vehicle repaired. If you were injured in the accident, you may have already received hospital treatment. You now have the task of assembling a team of appropriate health care providers to ensure an optimal recovery. All of these issues can require sizable investments in both time and money – and most likely all involve interaction with insurance companies. Insurance, when it works correctly, should lessen the stress on the injured victim of a motor vehicle accident, not increase it. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work that way. This article discusses some available options when the insurance company isn’t helpful.
First – Make Sure You Have Fulfilled Your Obligations
If you’re dealing with your own insurance company, remember that your insurance policy is a contract between you and the insurer, and that both parties have agreed to comply with all policy terms. Sometimes, an insurance company’s delay may result from something simple, such as an insured’s failure to provide required information. Such delays can be easily addressed by communicating effectively with the insurer.
If you’re dealing with a negligent driver’s insurance company, the situation can be more complicated. The company might be waiting on its insured (the negligent driver) to provide information. The company will also conduct its own investigation of the claim to determine if its insured was negligent, and to make a decision on whether, and how much, to pay to you. Unfortunately, we’ve seen many circumstances where a negligent driver’s insurance company is simply dragging its feet in an effort to avoid or to delay paying a legitimate claim. These drivers and their insurance companies should be held accountable for their actions. At Nelson MacNeil Rayfield we routinely deal with the insurance companies of negligent drivers, and fight hard to ensure they live up to their obligations.
Communicating with Your Insurance Company
If you’ve been involved in an automobile accident, contact your insurance company promptly. While your insurance policy contains important information on procedures, it’s also a good idea to ask the company to reiterate to you the steps they need for you to follow. Always be prepared by having your policy number handy. Additionally, when the insurance company opens a file for your claim, it will assign a unique claim number. In all of your written communications with the insurance company, it’s best to reference both your policy number and claim number. It’s also a good idea to deal with the insurance company in writing so that you will have an accurate record of your communications.
Advocates and Online Resources
If you believe you’ve handled everything correctly, and the insurance company still will not help you, or denies your claim, you have resources at your disposal. The Insurance Division of the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services has consumer advocates available to help you. These advocates are experienced with all types of insurance issues, and offer help in understanding insurance policies, and with helping insurers and insureds resolve miscommunications. Where appropriate, an investigation will be undertaken. You can speak to an advocate by calling 888-877-4894 (toll-free) between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. on weekdays. You can also communicate via email at the following email addresses: firstname.lastname@example.org; or email@example.com
If your claim has been denied by the insurance company, you have the right under Oregon law to file an appeal. The appeals process gives the insurance company specific deadlines to respond. The State of Oregon outlines the process here. If you want to file a complaint with the State of Oregon, here’s a link to the appropriate form.
Can A Lawyer Help?
If you’re having issues with an insurance company, it almost always pays to speak to an attorney knowledgeable about insurance. It’s especially important to speak with an attorney before you communicate with a negligent driver’s insurer. We have seen many instances where the opposing insurer uses a variety of strategies to attempt to limit an injured victim’s recovery – right from the first telephone call. At Nelson MacNeil Rayfield, we deal with insurance policies and insurance companies on a daily basis and have a long history of resolving both insurance issues and associated personal injury claims. Please call us with any questions you might have.
For even more information about insurance in Oregon, check out The Ins & Outs of Car Insurance in Oregon.