The Steps of an Insurance Claim
Step One: The Initial Settlement
After a claim is filed, an insurance company will likely make an initial compensation offer. Many people find themselves surprised when an insurance company quickly offers them payment after filing a claim. This is by design and benefits the insurer. By offering an immediate payout, insurers are hoping a claimant will immediately accept it because they need the money. Early offers are usually much smaller than they should be, and claimants are no longer able to pursue further claims once the initial settlement is accepted.
Additionally, adjusters may use stalling tactics to frustrate claimants. Often, there is only a legal obligation to respond to messages and no actual requirement to pay settlements quickly. Insurers can put off actually paying a claim for months or years simply by requesting the same paperwork over and over, switching adjusters on your claim, or conducting endless investigations. Insurance companies hope that your desperation leads to the acceptance of a low offer that saves them money. They know that you need money as soon as possible and aim to use your situation against you.
Step Two: Demand Letter & Negotiations
When an insurance company sends a low initial settlement, it is time to send a demand letter. Doing this shows your intent to pursue more than the company has offered and forces the other party to respond. In a demand letter, it is important to outline the reasons you are demanding more. Evidence such as medical costs, the cost of replacing or repairing damaged property, or the amount of lost income are all relevant to share in the letter. A demand letter should provide a clear and concise set of reasons that can be used in court if the insurance company denies your claim.
At this point, it is wise to have an attorney assisting you with your demands. By enlisting the assistance of someone who is familiar with the law and with insurance tactics, you'll be able to counter the insurance company's tactics (and likely get a better result). Additionally, using a lawyer shows the insurance company that they are facing someone who will not accept their tactics of delay and denial.
Step Three: Litigation
If an insurer chooses to deny your claim after receiving your demand letter, it is time to go to court. At this point, you absolutely need a lawyer. If you have a Louisiana insurance claim denial lawyer already, they should be prepared to go to court for you using the facts laid out in your demand letter. However, companies often settle before litigation begins as they know they frequently do not want claims to get to court. Trials take time and are costly for insurance companies, and in many cases juries will side with claimants. When a final settlement is reached, the claimant is required to sign a release of claims. At this point, all parties are stating that the situation is resolved, and no further legal action may be taken on the part of either side. This agreement makes it important to have an experienced lawyer who will maximize your compensation before any releases are signed.
When Should You Hire a Lawyer for Your Claim?
During the claims process, it can be daunting to hire a lawyer. Bringing in legal help may feel like you are adding complications to a process that you hope ends quickly. However, a lawyer will help you speed up the process by pressuring the company to pay what is fair. You may need a Louisiana insurance denial lawyer if:
- The insurance company is not returning your call
- Your claim has been denied outright
- You are not receiving a fair settlement
- Your demand letter has been denied
- The company is not investigating your claim
The Louisiana insurance denial lawyers at Arnold & Itkin are ready to assist you. Our firm has fought for our clients against the nation's largest insurers, often in some of the largest or deadliest accidents in recent history. We've helped our clients receive compensation for their hospitalization costs, long-term care, lost income, pain and suffering, and other hardships, giving them a second chance at life. Our results show how effective we are at taking insurance companies to court—our settlements and verdicts total in the billions of dollars.
Don’t let insurance companies use their power to push you around, only to deny your claim. Contact our Louisiana insurance denial lawyers today at (888) 493-1629.