If you have been injured in an accident, you are likely under a lot of strain. In addition to seeking treatment for your injuries, you may be dealing with lost wages, a car that you can’t drive because of damage sustained in the accident, and ever-increasing medical bills. So when an insurance company like Allstate offers you a settlement, you may be tempted to take it.
Accepting this settlement offer may seem like a good idea — until you realize that it doesn’t come close to covering your losses. A quick, lowball offer is just one of the tactics that Allstate uses in an attempt to minimize their liability for car accident claims.
Like other insurance companies, Allstate is a business, with a primary goal of maximizing profits. In 2018 alone, Allstate had a net income of $2.104 billion. An insurance company does not achieve that level of profitability by generously paying claims made against it.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t or won’t get the appropriate damages for your losses if you are hit by a driver who is insured by Allstate. While it can be challenging to get a fair settlement or win a jury verdict against Allstate, working with a seasoned Washington, D.C. car accident lawyer can increase the likelihood of getting the compensation that you deserve. Read on to learn more about the tactics that Allstate uses to deny or minimize claims — and how you can overcome them.
Strategies that Allstate May Use to Deny or Minimize Your Claim
Depending on the facts of your case, Allstate may employ a variety of maneuvers to get you to accept a lowball settlement or to wrongfully deny your claim. Understanding how insurance companies like Allstate work can help you avoid falling prey to these strategies.
Soon after a car accident, you will likely be contacted by an insurance adjuster for Allstate. The adjuster may seem friendly, and may even tell you that the company accepts liability for the crash. This is done to lull you into thinking that the adjuster is on your side; they most certainly are not.
An insurer may well “accept liability” for an accident — but this doesn’t mean that they will pay you for the full scope of your losses. Instead, an insurance adjuster will offer you a low amount that may not cover your expenses. In many cases, the offer is made before you have any idea of what your damages will be — raising the question of how exactly Allstate could determine a fair settlement amount.
For example, you may still be undergoing treatment for the injuries that you suffered in the wreck. At this point, you don’t know what your medical bills will be to treat the immediate issue— or if you’ll need long-term care or if your ability to work and perform activities of daily living will be impacted. An offer of $20,000 may seem generous, but it won’t be nearly enough if you need ongoing care for several months or years, or if you can’t go back to work because of the accident.
An Allstate insurance adjuster may also be friendly to you in an attempt to get you to talk about the collision or even about your own medical history. The goal here is to get you to say something incriminating that would reduce their insured’s liability for the accident, or find a reason to deny your claim because it was allegedly related to a pre-existing condition.
Allstate is known for these and other tactics that are designed to allow the company to deny your claim outright or limit the amount that they have to pay on your claim. In fact, in 2008, the American Association of Justice (AAJ) named Allstate as the worst insurance company in the United States. According to the AAJ, Allstate’s strategy of denying, delaying and defending insurance claims leads it to put profit over policyholders.
In the same year, a book titled “From Good Hands to Boxing Gloves” detailed how Allstate used the consulting firm McKinsey & Company to develop a strategy to maximize profits. The authors claim that McKinsey recommended that Allstate low-ball claims so that customers in financial distress would be more likely to accept them — while Allstate continued to make a profit by collecting insurance premiums.
Beyond low settlement offers, Allstate has been known to hand out pamphlets to accident victims with a title of “Do I Need an Attorney?” In 2001, a Pennsylvania judge ruled that the practice was illegal — and that Allstate’s goal was to create confusion in the minds of people who were injured in car accidents.
Of course, lowball offers and discouraging injury victims from seeking representation are not the only ways that Allstate seeks to maximize profits at the expense of people who are hurt by their insureds. They may also:
- Delay your claim by not taking your calls or misplacing your file. Because the statute of limitations for personal injury claims is three years in Washington, D.C. and Maryland, and two years in Virginia, these stalling tactics may result in a legal claim being blocked by law.
- Ask you to sign a medical release so that they can access all of your medical records — and dig for a reason to argue that your injuries were not related to the accident.
- Suggest that you see a particular doctor or go to their recommended mechanic or auto body repair shop. These medical specialists or mechanics may be working for Allstate and will work to keep Allstate’s costs as low as possible by minimizing your damages.
- Ask for a recorded or written statement to prove that their insured was not at fault.
- Request that you sign forms without fully disclosing that if you sign the forms, you may give up your right to file a claim.
These are just some of the ways that Allstate may try to resolve your claim for as little money or possible — or to deny it entirely. Fortunately, there are ways that you can fight back against these tricks.
How to Protect Yourself in Negotiations with Allstate
Dealing with Allstate may seem scary, particularly after reading all of the ways that they try to avoid paying claims. Yet there are things that you can do to protect your rights — and to make sure that you get the compensation that you deserve.
First, if you are involved in a car accident, don’t delay getting medical care. If you wait to see a doctor, Allstate may argue that your injuries aren’t related to the accident. Seek treatment immediately, even if you think that your injuries are minor, and follow through with any recommendations from your physician.
Second, do not give the insurance company a recorded or written statement. The adjuster may make it seem like you don’t have a choice — but that isn’t true. You are not obligated to give a statement to the other driver’s insurance company, and you should not do so.
Third, do not sign anything sent to you by the insurance company. Remember that Allstate’s goal isn’t to help you, but to maximize their own profits. Signing any forms from Allstate without review by your attorney will only hurt your case.
Fourth, do not accept a settlement offer from Allstate without consulting with a lawyer. Chances are good that the offer is for just a fraction of your actual damages. If you accept the settlement, you will be required to waive your right to file a claim in the event that the money is not enough to cover your losses.
Fifth, talk to a Washington, D.C. car accident lawyer about your case. Parties who are represented by counsel in personal injury claims receive settlements that are, on average, 40% higher than individuals who represent themselves. Schedule a free initial consultation with an attorney to protect your interests.
Injured in a Car Accident? Turn to Us for Help.
Allstate has teams of lawyers on retainer, along with an army of adjusters to handle claims against their policyholders. They all share a common goal: deny or minimize the claims of people like you. If you have been injured in an accident involving a person who has Allstate insurance, we can help you level the playing field.
At Patrick Malone & Associates, we take on giant insurance companies like Allstate every day — and we win. Our team won’t back down from a fight and will work hard to get you the compensation that you deserve. Call us today at 202-742-1500 or contact us online to learn more or to schedule a free initial consultation.