As a nationally recognized personal injury attorney and car accident lawyer in practice for over 25 years, I’ve successfully resolved literally thousands of auto accident claims. In that time period, I’ve found that for all the billions of dollars the auto insurance industry spends every year trying to convince people that they can “save money” by switching to this carrier or the other, they misrepresent the real truth behind auto insurance. I wanted to explore some of these myths in this blog post.
Myth #1: “Only pay for what you need!” “Save HUNDREDS of dollars every year”
This one, I think is a great example of fundamental misrepresentations in auto insurance ads. Lately the slogan and concept has been used most by Liberty Mutual. We see the usual antics of a guy with a pet Emu running around telling people that their insurance company is better because they show you how to “only pay for what you need”. What does this mean? It implies that there are a lot of insurance coverages that you can do without and shouldn’t pay for. Nothing could be further from the truth if you actually have to file a claim for property damage or bodily injury. In addition, almost every insurance company touts their ability to save you “HUNDREDS” of dollars a year. This is a more subtle misrepresentation. The actual truth is that for only a few hundred dollars more each year, you could have much better coverage. For example, waiving uninsured motorist coverage, might only save a person $50-75 a year but, could end up costing them tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars in uncovered medical expenses if they are hit by an uninsured driver!
Truth #1: You need as much insurance coverage as you can afford if you want to be truly protected after an accident
Every year, I have many clients who wished they would have bought more coverage and only realize it after they have a crash and need to file claims to get their vehicle repaired, to get medical treatment or to pay for claims filed against them. Minimal coverage is often not much better than no coverage. For example, in California, people are only required to carry bodily injury liability coverage of $15,000 per claimant and $30,000 per claim. This isn’t even close to enough to pay for the medical expenses caused by any type of significant motor vehicle accident that causes even moderately severe injuries. One visit the the emergency room could be enough to completely exhaust that amount of coverage leaving the person injured left responsible for any remaining treatment. If you are hit by someone with this type of minimal coverage (and there are literally thousands of them driving the streets of Los Angeles and the highways across California), and you didn’t purchase underinsured motorist coverage, you would be left holding the bag. While it is possible to bring a claim against an individual above and beyond their insurance coverage, trying to enforce such debts is very difficult.
Myth #2: “On your side” “In Good Hands” “Like a good neighbor”….
If you listen to any commercial by any of the major auto insurance companies, like Nationwide, Allstate, State Farm or the like, you think that auto insurance companies are there to be a good friend when you need it most. My experience in dealing with these claims over the past 25 years, has been the exact opposite. They do not treat this like a personal relationship, the relationship when you need to actual file and process a claim is strictly a business transaction. Many of the major carriers touting how “friendly” they are have inexperienced and under payed claims adjusters that provide very poor customer service not only to people filing claims against their insureds but, quite often, even to their own customers. I could give numerous examples of claims adjusters making people do what’s best for the insurance company and their bottom line rather than what’s best for the customer. One common example in California, is insurance adjusters telling people that they have to go to the “preferred provider” body shop when the California Insurance Code allows people to take their car to any repair facility they choose. Other examples follow along the same path (i.e. making representations that contradict clear consumer protection laws on the books meant to help people obtain the best treatment possible after a crash rather than doing things that simply help the insurance company’s bottom line).
Truth #2: The only person truly “On your side” and trying to do what’s best for you not the insurance company, is an independent personal injury lawyer hired by you.
All insurance companies no matter how much they spend on ads trying to convince you how they are going to be your best friend are in the business of making money, plain and simple! The way insurance companies make money is they take in as much in premiums as possible, try to minimize how much they pay out on claims, and invest the money that is “flowing through their system” every year to get a maximum return. Nothing in this business model involves trying to give you the best medical care, property repair, or replacement of your vehicle. For that, you need someone who is truly “on your side” like a legal advocate. Numerous studies done, have concluded that those people who are represented by attorneys, on average will always obtain more compensation that those without lawyers!
CONCLUSION: Don’t go cheap on your auto insurance and always hire an experienced attorney if you get injured and need to file a claim:
In my webpage here, I go over the basic types of auto insurance coverages and what I think you should have in your own policy. I’ve also analyzed my opinion of the customer service side of processing claims by all the major auto insurance carriers in California including Allstate, State Farm, Mercury, Farmers and GEICO. While some of these companies do a slightly better job than others in providing customer service and processing claims in an honest and timely manner, they all have issues with regard to “processing claim” (the job of the insurance company in their opinion) and “helping people”. Helping people who have the misfortune of being involved in a car accident is all that we do at Steven M. Sweat, Personal Injury Lawyers, APC and it’s all that we have done for over 25 years. We always offer free consultations and we can give you our honest opinion about your particular claim. If you hire our lawyers, we work on a “contingency fee” which means we charge nothing up front so there is no risk to you in having your own legal advocate overseeing the claims process and making sure you are treating fairly and with the respect you deserve! Call us 24/7 at 866-966-5240 if you or a loved one have been injured in a motor vehicle collision anywhere in California and would like our help!