Most car accidents are caused by negligent driver errors like speeding, ignoring traffic lights, or…
Each month you pay your car insurance bill without thinking about it. When you are in a car accident, you actually expect the insurance company to be on your side. Unfortunately, that is often not the case. Here are some things to keep in mind when dealing with your insurer:
Who Does the Insurance Company Actually Work For?
You may be a customer of the insurance company, but you are not the owner. Insurers are for-profit businesses that serve shareholders, not consumers. They profit by collecting as much in premiums as possible, while paying out as little in claims. This gives insurers every incentive to avoid paying out claims if at all possible.
Insurance Policies Are Intentionally Complicated
Most people never read their actual auto insurance policy, often relying on representations made by an agent or a summary that outlines the basic provisions. But, insurance contracts are all about the details. They are carefully drafted by the insurer to minimize their exposure. They often use language designed to confuse the policyholder. It’s important to look at your policy to see how terms such as “named driver,” “excluded driver,” “underinsured motorists coverage” are defined, and are just a few of the provisions you need to clarify with your policy.
Insurance Policies Are Form/Adhesion Contracts
Adhesion or “form” contracts refer to contracts drafted by one party–in this case the insurer. The other party has little or no bargaining power. When you purchase car insurance, you generally do not sit in the agent’s office and haggle over the specific, defined, terms. You sign a bunch of forms that the agent hands to you.
This can sometimes work to your benefit in the event of a dispute. If the policy is subject to more than one reasonable interpretation, Oklahoma courts should generally resolve the disagreement in your favor. Since the insurer drafted the adhesion/form contract, it must make sure the language is clear, not you.
Insurers Must Act in Good Faith
While an insurer has a fiduciary duty to its shareholders, and may hold you to the letter of your policy, they still must deal with you in good faith. Note that this refers to the insurance company you’re insured with and your insurance policy, not of the other driver’s insurance company and policy. If your insurer intentionally denies your claim for no good reason–or they do so in a fraudulent or oppressive manner–you have the right to seek not only what you are entitled to under the policy, but Oklahoma law may also permit the award of punitive damages to deter any such misconduct in the future.
Do You Need Help From an Oklahoma Personal Injury Lawyer?
Most insurance claims are paid without incident, but if you run into any resistance from your insurer, you need to speak with an experienced Oklahoma City car accident attorney as soon as possible. Having a lawyer on your side can only increase your chances of a favorable outcome.
One final thing to remember is that time is of the essence following an accident. There are strict legal deadlines for pursuing a claim against your insurer if they refuse to pay. If you have been in a car accident and need immediate legal help, call the offices of Hasbrook & Hasbrook today at 405-698-3040 to schedule a free consultation.