When the insurance company is delaying your claim, it can be tempting to sit and wait, hoping that the company will eventually come around and “do the right thing.” After all, as children, we are taught to exercise patience. And we may believe that if the company perceives us as “pushy” it could hurt the claim.
Unfortunately, these sentiments can end up costing you in the long term. Emotions have no role in the evaluation of claims. To protect your rights and maximize your recovery, you must act promptly and strategically.
In limited circumstances, an insurance attorney may advise you to wait, when doing so is part of a coherent strategy and has clear legal consequences that you and the attorney have discussed. Most of the time, however, waiting for the insurance company to “do the right thing” will hurt you more than it will help. Here are four reasons why:
1. The Insurance Company May Use Any Delay to Develop Reasons to Deny the Claim
Typically, your claim will not get stronger with the passage of time. Instead, with more time, the insurance company has more opportunities to find reasons to deny the claim. They will be watching for any mistakes on your part, any changes in the law, misstatements by witnesses, and so on. The company will capitalize on any opportunity to deny your claim or reduce its value.
2. You May Fail to Meet your Obligations Under the Policy
Your insurance policy is a contract. It is binding both on the insurance company and on you. Depending on the type of claim you have made, the policy may impose deadlines for you to take certain actions, such as reporting the claim, providing proof of loss or itemization of expenses, or meeting other obligations. If you do not read the policy and take all required steps to preserve your claim, you risk giving the insurance company a reason to deny.
3. Important Evidence May Be Lost, Altered, or Destroyed
The strength of your claim depends on the quality of your evidence. The passage of time usually decreases the evidence available to you. Memories fade. Witnesses move to other states. Documents are misplaced or destroyed. Electronic accounts are closed. Phone numbers change. Allowing time to pass can put you in a terrible situation—knowing what happened but being unable to prove it.
4. You May Suffer Additional Damages
Depending on the nature of your claim, delay can lead you to suffer additional losses. For example, if you use your vehicle to make deliveries or otherwise support your business, you could be losing income every day until that vehicle is repaired.
5. The Statute of Limitations May Expire
If your claim is not resolved to your satisfaction, in many circumstances your only meaningful recourse will be a lawsuit. Your ability to bring a lawsuit, however, is limited by the statute of limitations. This law sets a deadline by which you must file your suit—or it will be barred forever. If you wait too long to act on your case, you may unintentionally allow the statute of limitations to lapse.
If you are facing unreasonable delays from an insurance company, do not simply wait and hope. Contact an insurance attorney who can help guide you through the process and get you the recovery you deserve.