Duty to investigate - onus is on the insurance company to do it correclty

Posted Tuesday, November 17, 2009 by Ed Harper

Insurance companies have a duty to investigate a crash. They have an obligation to do it quickly and without a detrimental impact on their insured – the person who is covered by the insurance. Thus, when investigating a claim, their sole obligation is to protect or cover their own insured – and not protect or insure the claimant.

However, an insurance company representative may try and persuade you/the claimant into believing your have a mutual interest. Stating things like “we provide better claims handling” or “you are our customer and we are here to serve you” are untruthful statements. Their interests are not your interests. Promises of “your in good hands” or “like a good neighbor” do no apply to their adversary – you the claimant. Nothing could be further from the truth.

In fact, in Washington, in a recent case determined by the Court of Appeals, Allstate was implicated in the unlawful practice of law when the Allstate representative insisted a family had no other recourse but to accept what she was offering. The claim arose from a roll-over crash wherein a Ford vehicle (Aerostar) rolled over and the family suffered catastrophic injuries. The family relied upon the forceful presentation of Allstate’s insurance money, as the only money they could expect in this claim. In exchange for the $25,000 the family had to sign a release of all claims. This caused the family to lose joint and several liability against Ford Motor Company for a claim that had a value far in excess of the $25,000.

The courts were not pleased with what Allstate had done through their representative. Allstate ultimately paid the entire amount of the value of the claim, more than $1,000,000 for their illegal conduct.

A claimant can expect a claim offer for property damage to be resolved within 30 days. Here in the State of Washington there is a requirement that when liability is clear, the property damage claim should be resolved within this time frame. However, you do not have to go to the insurance company’s suggested property damage repair shops – but you can expect to have this completed on an expedited bases. Thus, in sum, the insurance company is not going to be looking out for your best interests and you have to be aware of this before you sign on the dotted line.

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