Don’t Rely On Your Insurer To Keep Accurate Records

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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Insurers are always on your side, right? Wrong. You can have the best agent, the best investigator and the best claims adjuster, but that doesn’t mean you should rely on your insurer to always do right by you – even if they mean well. Let’s face it, insurance companies make mistakes. Information can often be recorded in the wrong file or completely omitted. So, even though you’ve spoken with someone who you think understands your claim, if they leave the company, the only thing you’ll have to fall back on is the insurer’s records.

Insurance experts everywhere encourage consumers to keep track of every contact they have with an insurance company. Charles Surrano, a 30 year veteran insurance attorney from Arizona and member of the Advocate Law Group network reiterated that point. “If they’re dealing with an insurance company, they need to take notes. They need to make memos of what their conversations were. If possible, and if legal in an insured’s jurisdiction, they might want to record conversations. However, by all means, they should not simply assume that what they are saying to an adjustor is somehow going to be recorded in a claim file. Often times, it’s not. I have had cases where insureds have made multiple calls to an insurer, only to find out that when the claim file is produced, there’s absolutely no reference to those calls, some of them many minutes long, at all. They’re just not there.”

The worst thing to do when your claim is denied

It’s no secret that insurers often deny claims; they’ve denied claims in the past and will deny claims in the future. We asked Surrano what the biggest mistake a policyholder can make when their benefits have been denied. He summed up his answer in these words, “By simply accepting it.” He told us that there is no reason to do that. Instead, he offered consumers this advice, “They need to talk with someone who knows more about it than they do. That usually means speaking to an attorney. However, a lot of insureds have actually gotten help from agents by simply going back to the agent [after a claim has been denied] and saying, ‘This doesn’t seem right to me; it isn’t what you told me when you sold me the policy.’ A good agent will say, ‘You’re right; that’s not a good decision and you need to fight this.’

But the point is, if an insured feels that his claim has been denied improperly, he simply doesn’t have to take it. The worst that’s going to happen is he goes to someone who knows more about insurance than he does who can look at his situation and say, ‘Look, you might think your claim was denied wrongly, but it wasn’t.’ On the other hand, that person may agree with him and say, ‘Yes, it was denied wrongly; let me tell you why and what you can do about it.’ However, to sit back and do nothing makes no sense at all.”

If your insurer has denied a valid claim, consult an attorney whose practice focuses in this area.

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