It’s no secret that insurance companies are loath to part with their money. An auto collision may run you somewhere in the neighborhood of $5,000 (property damage, medical bills, etc.) depending on your deductible. Anything after that, you assume, is your insurance carrier’s financial responsibility. That may be true in principle, but there’s more than one way to skin a cat as the saying goes. The skinning in this scenario happens when insurance companies try to take advantage of loopholes to avoid the burden of heavy crash-related costs. It’s effectively taking money out of your pocket and, at its worst, putting your safety in jeopardy.
We were reminded of this with a bit of recent news. One hundred repair shops in Massachusetts have filed lawsuits against insurance companies for skimping out on safety in favor of surreptitious cost-cutting measures, according to a report by WCVB 5 in Boston. The newsroom is reporting that various insurance companies are sending banged up cars to preferred body shops, pressuring the owners to use cheaper parts instead of the proper ones. And as WCVB 5 also revealed, the parts are often cheaper and not properly tested.
This wouldn’t be unique to Boston. The cost-cutting methods of insurers are nothing new, though it can be a shock to our clients during settlement talks when they suddenly realize just how little insurance companies are willing to pay to compensate for an crash and/or injury. It’s one of the reasons we are forced to go to court to fight for clients in the first place. Our role, in one respect, is to isolate exploitation and get compensation for what was taken from you. How do we do this? That’s somewhat of a loaded question but it’s partly about pinpointing loopholes and identifying negligence that may have come at your expense. That’s why we preach conscientious consumerism whenever the opportunity presents itself.
Nearby in Maryland, for example, drivers took their complaints about a State Farm insurance hike to the local legislature. The hike, which purportedly raised rates on insurance holders that had been in accidents that weren’t their fault, was deemed too vague by the state to constitute a raise in rates. State Farm has since rescinded some of those rates and repaid insurance carriers a portion of the money, all thanks to consumers that nudged the state agency to look over some less-than-specific letters sent to policy holders. Though its nice to see a state agency keep close watch over a big insurer like State Farm, it’s safe to assume that the average Joe is simply taking most insurance companies at face value.
The State Farm situation in Maryland and the scams up in Massachusetts serve as two topical reminders for drivers and others to stay vigilant. We’re not trying to scare you away from your insurance company, just to emphasize that there are always entities looking to cheat the system. Don’t be cheated. Keep a healthy dose of skepticism in your back pocket. You never know when it may come in handy.