Is My Insurance Company's Lowball Offer Legal?
If you have been in an accident or incurred injuries or damage through other means, you may be able to file a claim with your insurer. The payout of your claim is meant to cover lost wages, damages, medical bills and other expenses as a result of the incident. If you receive a lowball settlement, you may not be able to cover all of those expenses.
What Is a Lowball Settlement?
You and your insurance company are unlikely to agree on the value of your claim, but there are rare instances when an insurance company's low offer is so minimal that it is considered a lowball settlement. Lowball offers occur when an insurance company offers less for a claim than you reasonably need to secure compensation for your medical bills, lost wages and other covered damages.
Many companies in the insurance sector claim they do not lowball. Part of the confusion stems from the fact that different parties have different definitions of what the term means. For example, with car insurance, most policies have a maximum payout to an injured driver:
- If your insurance policy states you will only receive a maximum of $30,000 in the event of an accident and you sustain injuries of more than $100,000 in a car accident, your insurer will only pay out $30,000. This may seem like a lowball offer, but it is, in fact, what you have agreed to in your insurance policy. To secure more, you would have to pursue other liable parties or the at-fault driver in a civil claim.
- On the other hand, if you think your insurance company should cover more than they are offering, you may be getting a lowball offer. While you may qualify under your policy for more, your insurance company has determined your claim will not be awarded the maximum amount possible under your policy. In some cases, you may be forced to seek a legal claim to secure more.
Why Do Pennsylvania Insurance Companies Lowball?
Insurance companies make money by keeping money. To do this, they pay as little as possible in settlement amounts. When determining an insurance settlement, companies consider what a jury would award in a similar case. Your insurer then creates an offer, considering any other restrictions in your policy, such as maximum payouts. They try to offer low settlements that policyholders will still accept, so they do not lose too much money on the payout.
Whenever you negotiate a claim with an insurance company, they will purposefully undervalue your claim to save money. They are counting on the fact that you will not be aware of the true value of your claim. An insurance company may give a low offer because they also know how urgently you may need money after an accident. No matter the damages, bills or lost wages you need to cover, an insurance company thinks you will eagerly accept any offer, even if it is a lowball settlement.
Should I Accept the First Offer From an Insurance Company?
Because your insurance company may give you a low offer at first, you should never accept the first settlement. After an incident, you likely have initial payments, so it will be tempting to take the first offer. Over time, though, bills may pile up, and you may lose out on more wages. The first offer from your insurance company may not be enough to cover these expenses, so be sure to contact an insurance attorney to get you the settlement amount you need.
Is a Lowball Settlement Illegal?
You may think your insurance company's low offer is criminal — but is it illegal? The practice of lowball offers is frequently discussed in the insurance and legal industries. If an insurance company conducts the proper investigations and offers you a settlement in line with your insurance policy, a low offer may not be illegal.
If the insurance company is acting in bad faith, however, they may be operating illegally. Delaying or denying initial claims could constitute bad faith practices with the goal of getting you to accept a lowball settlement. Be aware of these bad-faith and contact a lawyer if your insurer seems to be committing these practices.
Contact KBG Law in York, PA for the Results You Deserve
Any time you are severely injured and need to deal with an insurance company, you should contact an insurance attorney. If you received a low offer for an insurance claim and are worried about covering the costs of your injury, contact KBG Injury Law. The insurance attorneys at KBG Injury Law can determine if your insurer is acting in bad faith and work with you to help you understand your legal options.
Call our offices today, or visit our contact page. Do not settle for a low offer from your insurance company. Get the compensation you deserve. We have office locations in York, Lancaster, Hanover, Harrisburg, and Gettysburg and serve all of South Central Pennsylvania.