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Insurance Companies Responses to Demand Letters

Accident Attorney in Sacramento CA Explains Different Insurance Company Responses

After a car accident, a claim should be sent to the insurance company representing the at-fault party as soon as possible. Many insurance companies require this be done within 24 hours of the collision. This is often the initiating action in negotiating a settlement with an insurance company. In response, insurance agencies often send a reservation of rights letter indicating the insurance company admits no fault but will investigate. Once an individual has sufficiently recovered from whatever injuries were incurred, a demand letter may be sent to the at fault individual’s insurance company. A demand letter explains the extent of damages incurred and to outlines the compensation requested. Dealing with insurance companies can be a nightmare! The best thing to avoid any stress and frustrations is to speak with an accident attorney in Sacramento CA.

Negotiating a settlement is almost always a part of the personal injury claims process. As insurance companies are for-profit organizations, they are not eager to offer large sums of compensation. The insurance agency is usually represented by a claims adjuster, whose job is typically to get you to settle for the least amount of money possible. Demand letters are usually sent after the receipt of an unsatisfactory initial offer of compensation. Demand letters allow an individual to explain the circumstances of an incident and to itemize associated costs. Some individuals multiply the sum of the actual costs by a factor of 2 to 5 to indicate pain and suffering.

How Long Does it Take for an Insurance Company to Reply?

Response times for insurance demand letters range anywhere from a week to up to eight months. The exact response time will ultimately depend on the insurance company, the jurisdiction, the size of the case, and the complexity of the claim. Unfortunately, an insurer can take as long as they want; in fact, there is no law that sets a deadline for demand letter response times.

The following factors will all influence how quickly an insurance company will respond:

  • The size of the claim: Generally speaking, the larger your claim is, the more intense scrutiny and high-level approval your claim will require. Larger claims tend to involve more lengthy investigations and multiple levels of evaluation before being signed off on by insurers.
  • The size of the insurer: Larger insurance companies with greater resources may be able to expedite your claim and provide you with a quicker response, while others may need more time.
  • Whether there has already been communication: If you have already corresponded with your insurance company prior to sending a demand letter, there may be a lower chance that they will delay your claim and ask for additional information before officially responding.
  • The size of the insurance policy: Claims from larger insurance policies carry a greater potential financial liability for an insurance company, making them more likely to be scrutinized up-front than smaller claims.

Insurance companies often take a long time to respond to demand letters as they know you need the money as soon as possible and they have all the time in the world. If an insurance company is taking an inordinate amount of time to respond, it may be wise to follow up with the insurance company to be sure they received your demand letter. It’s possible it was sent to the incorrect place or that some of the contact information was incorrect (e.g. policy number, date of accident, name on the policy, etc.) This follow-up should be done on the phone with a claims representative and not through another letter.

What If an Insurance Company Doesn't Reply to My Demand Letter?

If an insurance company has still not responded to your demand letter, the next step may be to contact a legal representative and file a lawsuit. Be sure to understand the statute of limitations for your case. Once those run out, you could lose the right to sue. When you file a lawsuit, the insurance company is served paperwork that legally obligates them to respond. This does not require you to go to court later – it just gets the ball rolling on reaching a settlement. Because there are so many steps to take and a multitude of factors, have an accident attorney in Sacramento CA handle this frustrating process for you.

Three Common Responses to Demand Letters

The amount of time between sending your demand letter and reaching a final settlement will vary depending on the type of response you receive. Some of the more common ones are: rejection, counter and acceptance.

  • Rejection – insurance companies routinely reject completely valid claims in an attempt to deter individuals from pursuing compensation. This actually works on many individuals and greatly reduces the number of settlements made annually and saves insurance companies large sums of money. But this should never be the reason you are not compensated. Speak with an accident attorney in Sacramento CA. Another reason for rejection is for uncertainty. Insurance companies may not be sure that their customer is actually at fault and may reject a claim due to a question of liability. This then shifts the burden of proof of liability to the individual filing the claim.
  • Counter – insurance companies often respond to a demand letter with an offer much lower than what is asked for. This is a typical tactic to try to convince an individual their claim is actually worth less. It’s important you counter an offer but bear in mind, the back and forth takes a lot of time. Insurance companies have plenty of time to land on an agreed settlement, unlike injured individuals who have bills to pay and medical treatment to seek. Don’t let their slow nature keep you from getting the compensation you deserve. An accident attorney in Sacramento CA can help you through this process. Insurance companies will low-ball individuals because people often want to avoid going to court. Insurance groups count on individuals’ hesitancy to go to court and hope they will accept a low settlement instead. In some cases, there are many individuals involved in an incident. Because of this, insurance companies may counter-offer low settlements if they have many individuals seeking compensation. You should never accept an offer that does not fairly compensate you for your injuries, even when an insurance representative pressures you to or threatens that the offer is subject to retraction if you don’t accept it immediately.
  • Acceptance – very rarely an insurance company will accept the suggested compensation requested in a demand letter. Typically, an insurance company will accept an offered amount after several rounds of negotiation and settle on an amount closer to their initial offer. Sometimes insurance companies will accept an offer when it is within the policy limits and is much lower than they actually anticipated paying.

Speak with an Accident Attorney in Sacramento CA for a Fair Settlement

Do you have a claim to make against an insurance company? Having knowledgeable and motivated legal representation can help guide you through a complicated process and lend strength to your case. Contacting an accident attorney in Sacramento CA as soon as possible is likely to help you get the compensation you deserve. Give us a call at (916) 915-0446 or send us an email for a free consultation.

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    Joe Weinberger has represented thousands of injured people nearly 30 years of practicing law. Widely respected by colleagues and known for providing practical, friendly and effective service, Mr. Weinberger attracts clients throughout the Northern California area.
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