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June 7, 2009

Reducing Your Insurance Rates While Maintaining Quality Insurance

 

The cost to insure your vehicles is "all over the place". Buyers should definitely shop around in order to get the least expensive rates. BUT HOLD ON: Saving a few insurance dollars but going from a good insurance carrier to one that's bad, doesn't make good sense. You have to weigh the price savings against the quality of the service AND payments that you'll get if you make a claim with your insurance carrier, or a claim is made against you or a family member.

The first factor to consider is the quality of the company. We maintain a rating of all major insurance carriers on our website, grading them from A to F, with an "A" meaning the company pays liability claims and uninsured motorist claims extremely reasonably, and attempts to avoid litigation (court), if at all possible. The "F" company will 'chince you to death'. With a lower rated company, you're much more likely to end up in a courtroom, or at least in litigation, than an "A" rated company.

You should simply get the best company in light of the rates that are charged.

Company rates may vary based upon large numbers of factors, such as discounts for drivers over certain ages, surcharges for drivers under certain ages, etc.

What kind of deductible that you can afford will also affect your insurance premiums. You should always take the highest deductible that you can afford to take, understanding that if you are in an accident, you possibly will have to come out of pocket for that deductible.

At minimum, always purchase uninsured motorist coverage equal to your bodily injury liability coverage. In addition, try to purchase stacking coverage if you have more than one resident relative vehicle in your household, as stacking coverage will, for example, double your coverage if you have two resident relative vehicles in your household.

Medical payments coverage is probably a coverage that you can do without if you and your family members have major medical health insurance coverage. Alternatively, if you have an HMO, you may want to consider purchasing additional medical payments coverage.

Other coverages such as rental, towing, storage, etc. are so infrequently used, and not mandatory, that you can avoid purchasing them.

An excellent article recently written that you should review before purchasing or renewing your insurance is called: "Your 5-minute guide to car insurance".

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March 2, 2009

Car Accident Injury Victims in Florida Feel the Squeeze of a Poor Economy

The poor economy seems to be negatively affecting the settlement offers Florida auto accident victims are receiving from insurance companies. These lower-than-expected offers are not surprising when viewed in light of the recent headlines concerning insurance giant AIG's staggering fourth quarter loss of over $61 billion. As insurance companies' stock prices continue to tank, anecdotal evidence suggests that they are tightening the purse strings for car crash related injuries, especially soft-tissue injuries. Although never loose with compensation offers, the offers now being made are seemingly much lower than in years past for similar injuries.

Florida personal injury attorneys must take steps to help combat these unreasonably low offers for auto accident injuries. The most effective way for Florida personal injury lawyers to help ensure they receive reasonable offers is to thoroughly and honestly evaluate a case and injury prior to filing suit. This evaluation will achieve two crucial goals for the car accident or other personal injury case you are handling: 1) it will allow you recognize what is or is not an appropriate offer from the insurance company, and 2) it will ensure that good cases are brought to trial and poor cases are not. Ultimately, the goal is to try the cases legitimately worth trying because they will result in more verdicts for the plaintiffs. This, in turn, will give the insurance companies and their adjusters a moment's pause before making an unreasonably low offer they know will force you to trial.

There are numerous factors that the South Florida personal injury attorney must be aware of before deciding to take an auto accident case to trial. Some of these factors include the following:

The quality of the client -- While we respect our clients and understand we would be nowhere without them, the honest truth is that some clients make a better presentation than others. This needs to be taken into consideration before deciding to place them under the scrutiny of a jury panel.

The quality of the defendant -- The defendants presentation is also a crucial consideration during your evaluation process. Drunk drivers and corporate defendants most often are more difficult for the jury to relate to.

Property Damage -- It is important to consider how much damage was done to the vehicles. This is because jurors have a difficult time associating serious injury with low-impact collisions.

Nature of the Accident -- When considering whether or not to take a case to trial, keep in mind that "rear-ender"-type accidents are not as persuasive to a jury as a defendant that has run a red-light or stop sign, T-boned another vehicle in the intersection, or caused other less common accidents.

Emergency Care -- Always consider what types of injuries and treatment were reported at the time of the accident. For instance, were the paramedics called to the seen? Was the auto accident victim taken to the emergency room via ambulance? Did the patient require immediate medical attention or lose consciousness at the scene?

Lost Wages -- Lost wages can be a significant part of an auto accident settlement or verdict, but make sure the lost wage claims are documented by the employer and supported by tax return information.

Type of Work -- Although perhaps unjustified at times, jurors are often compelled to compensate a blue collar worker more than a white collar worker. This most likely is because they associate blue collar jobs with more physical activity and white collar jobs as being more sedentary, but regardless, it is an important factor to consider.

Doctors -- Make sure you have knowledgeable doctors that can identify and explain an injury to a jury. If your doctor does not make a good presentation and waivers in his opinion of the client's injury, it can be as devastating if not more so than a client that makes a poor presentation. Also, make sure the client is seen by all the appropriate doctors for their particular condition.

Medical History -- Make sure to evaluate all medications, injections, epidurals, facet blocks, etc. and take into consideration whether the client has refused or discontinued any recommended treatment. THOROUGHLY INVESTIGATE your clients past medical history. It is imperative that you order and review the medical records of your client as far back as you can go. Check the "intake forms" from doctors' offices to see what prior physicians are listed and then order those records as well. You can be sure the insurance company will.

It is important to research and evaluate a case properly prior to making a decision to go to trial. As Florida personal injury attorneys, we have to continue to fight the good fight. If we have done our research, hopefully we can then make the appropriate decision to take a case to trial or settle. With more positive plaintiff jury verdicts, we will see more appropriate offers from insurance companies even in these tough economic times.

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January 29, 2009

Insurance Company Bad Faith Actually Benefits Florida Accident Victims

Shortchanging the accident victim is something that is 'old hat' for insurance companies. Florida accident victims have always had to scratch and claw through the system to get the compensation for injuries that they deserve.

Often, Florida automobile accident victims find themselves on the 'short end of the stick', dealing with insurance company "bad faith". Being a victim of a car crash is not bad enough, but when that victim finds out that the insurance coverage of the at fault driver and owner is inadequate, and there is inadequate uninsured motorist coverage, that victim may think they've hit the 'end of the road'.

Well maybe, except that insurance company greed may create an exception and actually create what amounts to an unlimited amount of insurance coverage. Under Florida law, if an insurance carrier representing the person at fault fails to make a reasonable offer when that insurance carrier should have, and does not act in the best interest of the person the carrier insures, that may open the door to unlimited insurance coverage.

In other words, an insurance carrier has an obligation to act in good faith to its at fault insured. If it doesn't, it opens the door to an excess verdict, one that could take what was otherwise a $10,000.00 policy limits case, and essentially make it into a case of unlimited insurance coverage.

This Florida law, to some extent, helps keep the insurance carriers 'in check', requiring them to really and truly try to evaluate a case properly, and if there's a reasonable chance that their insured can get 'hit' with an excess verdict, then they have the obligation to pay the injured party the policy limits.

The same concept applies to a person who is struck by an uninsured motorist or 'underinsured motorist'. When put on notice pursuant to statute, and an adequate period of time expires without payment, one who has uninsured motorist coverage can also obtain an excess verdict against its own insurance carrier.

Our law firm has many examples of insurance bad faith. In one, a young man in his early 20's with serious injuries came to us seeking to have his friend, who was the at fault driver, pay him the $100,000.00 policy limits of his friend's policy. When the insurance carrier refused, and claimed there was no insurance coverage under the policy, the young man sued, and a verdict was collected by the young man in an amount in excess of $1.8 million.

In another case, the failure of the insurance company to offer the $100,000.00 policy limits to a catastrophically injured young woman has resulted in that company now offering two million dollars to settle, and that sum has been turned down as the family seeks full compensation for her injuries.

So, if an insurance carrier is delaying on paying a claim, or hasn't offered the policy limits of the policy when they should have done so, seek the services of a lawyer who handles those type of claims.

Continue reading "Insurance Company Bad Faith Actually Benefits Florida Accident Victims" »

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