When consumers find themselves the victim of an auto accident, confusion often reigns. “I’ve never been in an accident before” or “I don’t know what to do” are comments frequently heard by attorneys practicing in this area. Questions about rental cars, who pays the medical bills, how car values are determined and who should I contact for help abound. In the meantime people have jobs, families, schools or other daily obligations that require a working automobile. Waiting days for someone to contact you about a rental and trying to figure out who is supposed to pay your medical bills and car repair is extra stress most people would rather do without. Many times consumers turn to their own insurance agent for help. They are often disappointed. The agents seem to be very service oriented when they sell the policy, but not so much after an accident occurs. Many don’t like the fact you’re about to make a claim on your policy. Even though that is exactly how the medical coverage you purchased is supposed to work. Some companies track agent’s customers and let the agent know what percentage made claims as a reminder it’s much more profitable to sell to customers who don’t make claims. Often the advice heard from the agent is contact the other driver’s company for help, don’t make a claim against your own policy. Although state law forbids insurance companies from canceling your insurance, raising your rates or refusing to renew your policy at the next billing cycle, consumers are fearful that’s just what will happen if they use their own coverage. So they turn to the guilty driver’s insurance company. Of course, the insurance company representing the guilty driver certainly doesn’t have their interests in mind when they handle a claim. Instead of useful advice and help with the loss, they end up being manipulated. Signatures are demanded on release forms, recorded statements of the event and detailed questions about their health history are required before they offer any assistance. Refusals to provide a rental car and claims they need to investigate fault even for simple rear end accidents are common tools used in the industry. Research is done into a consumer’s claim history and personal background prior to exacting a recorded interview. Things that happened years ago and are long forgotten come back to bite people if they state in a recorded interview they’ve never made a claim or had a similar injury in the past. No law requires you sign documents or give interviews before being provided with a rental or car repairs on a clear fault accident. But insurance companies know how to apply pressure. Your best bet if faced with these tactics? Hire an attorney. Get someone with your interests at heart whose advice you can trust. Learn about your rights and what options are available to you when accidents happen. Otherwise, you may find yourself becoming a victim twice.
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