This “How To” article is crucial, up-to-date information concerning what to do if your insurance company is giving you a hard time (regarding your own motor vehicle accident claim with them) and you’re positive it’s “Legit”. If there’s some problems with whatever position they’ve taken regarding your Property Damage Loss (or any other coverage-questions they may be ducking/stalling/ignoring and/or disputing) you don’t have to sit back and take it!
You DO have options to settle your dispute and you should proceed as follows:
#1. FIRST, LET YOUR AGENT KNOW YOU’RE UNHAPPY: Ask them to go to bat for you. If they sit on their butt (afraid or “too busy” to get “involved” with your “problem”) find out the name and phone number or your insurance companies nearest Claims Department. Contact them and ask for help. (Never forget, you’re their insured, your premium’s pay their salary). If the person you’re talking to attempts to handle your problem with uncaring indifference, just like your agent has, than find and talk to that individual’s boss – – The Vice President of Claims and/or whomever.
#2. BE PREPARED TO SUPPORT YOUR CASE: Have ready all documents, plus a covering letter (to snail mail to that person your finally talking to) proving your point and explaining why you’re not satisfied. (Send it to them PERSONAL AND CONFIDENTIAL – – with a signed “Return Receipt” requested).
#4. CONTACT YOUR LOCAL INSURANCE DEPARTMENT: If you’ve followed your insurance company’s rules for resolving a dispute, and you’re still not satisfied, your own Local Insurance Department can help you. You can reach them by phone, or mail, or often online.
WHAT THEY CAN DO FOR YOU: Many insurance departments offer on-the-phone assistance to help resolve the “Problem” without requiring you to file a formal “Written Complaint“. Most post their complaint forms on their Web sites, allowing you to print out the document, complete it at home, and mail it to them. (If they don’t have a web site ask that they snail mail their “Written Complaint” form right out to you) !
After you provide them with all the necessary information (including your policy or claim number and supporting documentation) they will notify the insurance company (or agent) you’re complaining about. The company (or agent) is then required to respond to the department within a certain amount of time, usually between 10 to 30 days, depending upon the area where you live.
Upon receiving a reply, Insurance Department officials will dig deeper, trying to determine what can and should be done. This process usually takes about 30 days.
If the Insurance Department decides against the agent or the insurance company (which is clearly stated – – and one both your insurance company and your agent know to be a fact of their business life they‘d prefer not to get hung up on – – nor be forced to deal with) the Insurance Department has the power to levy a variety of penalties, ranging from a fine to actually revoking the license of the agent or company. (When it comes down to the nitty-gritty, these departments have all the power they need to penalize companies that are deliberately ducking or dragging their feet).
After reading the above, you may want to consider hiring an attorney to represent you because it can get complicated! If you do, find one who specializes in Auto Insurance. Attorney’s work either at an hourly rate or on a “Contingency-Fee Basis“, depending on the type of case. If you decide to go that route be sure to get your lawyer’s “Fee Structure” in writing. And (to remain current on the progress of your claim) insist that you receive copies of all correspondence. PLUS: Be sure your lawyer knows that he or she must have your agreement – – before committing to any settlement!