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Should I Trust My Own Insurance Company?

Posted by Scott A. Staples | Mar 12, 2019 | 0 Comments

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 You're trying to navigate the maze of issues after a car crash: medical payments, property damage, rental cars, bodily injury settlements. You may find yourself asking, “should I trust my own insurance company?”, in terms of what they tell you, what they want you to do or sign, and regarding whether what they're offering you is fair. It's a legitimate and important question.

I know one veteran plaintiffs' attorney who is fond of saying that insurers are “liars and thieves”, the whole lot of them. All of us feel that way at one point or another, especially those of us with plenty of litigation battle scars. But most of us also realize that insurance companies are made up of individual people. We have the pleasure of working regularly with many fine insurance adjusters who try their hardest to be fair to our clients while still doing their jobs.

Often, however, even the fair-minded and reasonable adjusters are hamstrung by the culture and constraints of their employers. And the simple fact is that insurers don't keep their enormous reserves intact by paying out claims. The kitty stays full by paying out as little as they can get away with. And that includes your own company, even though you have dutifully paid your premiums for years, often decades, with few if any claims made.

So unbounded “trust” might be unwise. Don't confuse trust and cooperation, though. As we have detailed in other posts about underinsured motorist (UIM) and personal injury protection (PIP) benefits, you have a duty under your insurance contract to cooperate, within reason, with requests made by your insurer that you provide them access to documents, submit to medical examinations, and the like. You must cooperate, even if you don't trust completely.

I'd say maybe a good synthesis of this information, and good advice to follow, could be this (quoting President Reagan): “trust but verify.” Do not hesitate to question what the insurer's representative is telling you, and ask them to provide documentary proof or citations to specific policy provisions supporting what they're telling you. And by all means, consult with an experienced personal injury/insurance claim attorney if you're having trouble verifying anything the insurer is telling you. We perform this service on the phone or in our offices for many people who never become clients, but who just need to run something by us that may not be passing their smell test. 

About the Author

Scott A. Staples

Scott Staples came on board in 2006 as a clerk during law school, and joined the firm as an associate attorney in 2007. He was made a shareholder in the firm in 2010. Scott graduated, cum laude, from Washington State University Vancouver with a BA in English, and obtained his Juris Doctorate from Willamette University College of Law, with cum laude honors there as well. He has successfully represented clients in a variety of different types of injury cases, including auto collisions, premises liability, animal attacks, watercraft accidents, and construction site injuries. He has appeared, and won, before the Washington State Supreme Court (Weismann v. Safeco, 2012). Scott has volunteered time for the past several years at the Clark County Volunteer Lawyers Housing Justice Project. He has previously served on the new member and membership committees for the Washington State Association for Justice (WSAJ), and has acted as chair and co-chair of the WSAJ Clark County Roundtable. He is a member of the Washington and Oregon State Bar Associations, WSAJ and OTLA (state trial lawyer organizations), and is admitted to practice in all state and federal courts in Washington and Oregon. Scott was born and raised in Vancouver, attending Vancouver public schools and graduating from Hudson's Bay High School. He enjoys playing recreational basketball and softball, skiing, and spending time with his wife and three children.

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