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Do car insurance companies care about me?

By John Singleton on December 12, 2017

Judging by their heartwarming commercials, catchy phrases, and pledges to be “on your side,” you would think that insurance companies are the most compassionate and benevolent companies on earth. But are these “helping hands” and “good neighbors” as selfless as they would like us to believe? And do these multimillion-dollar corporations care about compensating those hurt in accidents fairly?

Well, if the following recent story is any indication, some insurance companies will pay a criminal who caused the accident instead of their own innocent client.

A disturbing example of “insurance justice”

A Florida man was stopped at a red light on his way to work early one morning this summer. At the same moment, four teenagers in a stolen SUV were at the end of an all-night crime spree. Their spree was halted when they slammed into the man who was stopped at the red light. After the impact, their SUV rolled over several times and burst into flames. One teen was thrown free of the burning vehicle and survived, while the others died.

What happened to the innocent man, Ricky, who was obeying a traffic signal on his way to work? He suffered serious injuries and is now in a wheelchair, with medical bills mounting daily.

Here is where the story gets bizarre. As a law-abiding citizen, Ricky was insured. But as of October, Ricky had received nothing from his insurance company, despite the fact that he’d racked up more than $50,000 in medical bills.

Can you imagine his shock when he found out that his insurance company had paid $20,000 to the teenagers’ families, even though police reports concluded that Ricky had no fault in the accident?

Raising rates for not-at-fault accidents

Ricky says it was “a punch in the gut”—particularly after all the premiums he’s paid over the years. And worse, his insurance rates could go up because his insurer made a payout, even though he was not at fault for the accident! It’s no wonder that some insurance companies get a bad reputation.

Now, insurance companies in Virginia are NOT allowed to raise the rates of not-at-fault drivers, but they may do so if they believe the driver was partially at fault. In that case, the insurer must give the driver 60 days to appeal the increased premium.

Why wouldn’t my automobile insurance company care about justice?

To most people, justice is getting a fair deal, making wrongs right, or everyone getting what they deserve. So why wouldn’t an auto insurance company want justice?

Well, “conflict of interest” is part of the insurance industry’s business model. An insurance company’s sales pitch is that if you pay them a “small” premium each month, they will cover your future financial needs should you be in an accident. But insurance companies are businesses, and a business’ goal is to maximize profits—which means holding on to as much money as they can. In other words, the less they pay you for your property loss and medical bills, the more money they keep.

It’s not as if insurance companies can just choose not to pay out legitimate claims—that’s against the law. But they don’t necessarily have to pay a fair amount based on their client’s losses.

Think about it: what incentive does an insurance company have to pay you more than the lowest amount they can get away with? None. That’s why an insurance company is often eager to get you to accept a payout before you can fully realize the impact your injuries will have on your life.

Why should I trust a lawyer any more than I trust an insurance company?

Not all lawyers are knights in shining armor, and we know that some in our profession do not have a stellar reputation.

But we do have this: we work on a contingency fee basis—meaning we don’t make money unless we make you money. If our firm, GibsonSingleton Virginia Injury Attorneys, wins your case, we take a percent of your settlement or award as our fee. If we don’t win your case, we don’t get paid.

So who would you trust to act in your best interests? The people motivated to keep their money, or the ones motivated to get you money?

Call an attorney first!

When you’ve been in an accident, don’t talk to an insurance company representative (yours or the other party’s) until you’ve talked to a personal injury attorney. Even “friendly” conversations with an insurance adjuster can be turned against your claim. However, insurance companies typically won’t try that once you’ve spoken with an attorney.

At GibsonSingleton Virginia Injury Attorneys, we don’t believe in picking fights with insurance companies. As former Marines, we don’t need do to that. Whenever we can, we work with insurance adjusters to get the fairest settlement possible for our clients. We seek to work “smarter” for our clients and present well-organized evidence of our clients’ needs to win the day.

But some stories do raise our blood pressure. And in those instances, we apply the Marine adage, “No greater friend, no worse enemy.”

If you have a question about an auto accident, give us a call at (804) 413-6777. We’ll let you know if you need a lawyer at all, and there’s no charge to speak to us. We can’t prevent all accidents from happening, but if you’ve been injured, we will work diligently to make you whole again.

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Community service

Prevention, empathy, and diligence are hallmarks of everything we do at GibsonSingleton Virginia Injury Attorneys. Our community can see these ideals lived out in our work to prevent personal injuries from happening.

  • Safety Education
    GibsonSingleton launches a “Texts=Wrecks” campaign to reduce the number of people injured or killed by distracted drivers.
  • Annual Coat Drive
    During the fall, our team works to distribute coats to people in need in our community.
  • Hands-on Service
    John and Ken join the Gloucester Point Rotary Club in cleaning up the community.
  • Supporting Local Schools
    The Gibson family participates in Gloucester’s Botetourt Elementary Shuffle fundraiser.