If you have been involved in a car accident with another driver, and you make a claim against the other driver's insurer (or your own), you may find yourself dealing with the flip side of the insurance industry coin: instead of the way that they portray themselves in advertisements (a good neighbor with whom you are in good hands because they are on your side), they can become experts at playing hardball negotiations.
The fact is, insurance adjusters keep their jobs and advance their careers by saving money for their employers, and they save that money by minimizing what they pay out in claims to people like you.
There is nothing necessarily unfair or unethical on the part of an adjuster about driving a hard bargain. But sometimes an adjuster can become so zealous in his or her desire to please the insurance company employer that the tactics used to whittle down your settlement amount cross the line into bad faith territory. Here are some things to look out for that may evidence an adjuster who is crossing that line:
- Playing games with the facts of the accident or the applicable California law
- Denying your claim without giving any apparent reason
- Refusing to negotiate with you, or to investigate your claim
- Engaging in delaying tactics, such as switching adjusters during negotiations
- Delaying payment of your claim for an unreasonable amount of time.
The items above are by no means all of the ways in which an insurance adjuster can behave in a way that might constitute bad faith. The upshot is, bad adjusters are likely counting on you not to know as much as they do about the settlement process, and to use that superior position to take advantage in a way that goes beyond simple hard bargaining.
A good way to know that you are not going to be taken advantage of is to have an attorney to represent your interests in insurance cases, preferably an attorney who is experienced with the type of case that you have, such as a claim for personal injury if you have been injured in a car accident. Your attorney will likely be able to either deter an adjuster from using bad faith tactics, or to spot such tactics if they are used.