Archive for the ‘Insurance Coverage’ Category

Negotiating with a Portland Insurance Company

Portland auto accident attorneyVictims of an auto accident should be able to make a claim to receive compensation from an auto insurer.  In Portland, drivers have to buy bodily injury liability coverage, property damage liability coverage, uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage, and personal injury protection (PIP).  The broad minimum coverage requirements mean almost everyone should be able to recover compensation if they get hurt in a collision. Oregon Mutual, Grange, Amica, and Allied are among the insurance companies who make automobile insurance policies available to Oregon consumers and who will provide compensation to victims who get hurt in Oregon auto accidents.

After you’ve been hurt, you need an experienced accident lawyer that knows how to effectively negotiate with a Portland insurance company to get the money you are entitled to following an accident.  Some of the challenges that occur during negotiation include:

  • Insurers aren’t on your side. Insurance companies want to pay as little to you as possible, in most cases. They’ll be looking for ways to deny your claim, trip you up and get you to change your story, or get you to accept less in compensation than you deserve. You need to be prepared to protect your rights, which usually means having a lawyer help you.
  • Different insurers cover different losses. If you suffered injury, regardless of who was at fault, but your injuries weren’t very costly or serious, you’ll make a personal injury protection claim with your insurance company. If you got hurt because another driver was negligent but that driver had no insurance or insufficient insurance, you’ll make an uninsured or underinsured motorist claim with your own insurer. If you got hurt by another driver who had insurance coverage, you’ll make a claim with that driver’s insurer.
  • Insurers usually make low ball settlement offers. Your attorney should send a demand letter to the insurer to ask for an appropriate amount of compensation so you start negotiating based on a dollar amount you believe is fair. If the insurer counters back, you’ll negotiate back and forth until you reach a number that is reasonable- if the insurer is willing to be reasonable. If not, you may need to go to court.
  • A liability release is permanent. Before an insurer will pay your damage claim, you’ll have to sign a release of liability. You cannot change your mind once this happens.  Be sure your settlement covers your damages and that you know the full extent of your losses before agreeing to settle your claim.
  • Know how to respond if an insurer won’t be fair. If your own insurer denies legitimate claims or doesn’t treat you fairly, you’ll need to make a bad faith claim. If the other driver’s insurer won’t make a fair settlement offer, you’ll need to pursue a personal injury claim.

By keeping these key pieces of info in mind, you will have a greater chance at recovering the compensation you deserve.

Uninsured Motorists Accidents in Portland: Do Insurance Companies Share Blame?

Portland auto accident attorneyOur Portland, OR accident lawyers know that everyone in Oregon and everyone throughout the United States is required to have auto insurance if they wish to drive a car. Having auto insurance protects the driver from the risk of financial loss, but this isn’t the major reason why auto insurance is required. Insurance is mandated because injured victims who are hurt in a car accident should not have to cope with out-of-pocket costs if the accident was someone else’s fault.

Car insurance pays out claims to injured victims if the insured driver was to blame for the crash. The compensation a victim receives should pay all his medical bills for injuries arising from the wreck. The compensation should also cover other losses such as pain and suffering.  This compensation is essential for injured victims, and when someone causes a crash and has no insurance, the injured victim is left trying to make an uninsured motorist claim and may not receive as much in compensation as he otherwise would have, depending on the level of uninsured motorist coverage available.

Unfortunately, although it is better for everyone when all drivers are insured, insurance companies may actually be setting prices in such a way that lower-income drivers are all-but priced out of the market.

Consumer Federation of America Warns That Insurance Pricing Practices May Create Incentive for Lower-Income Individuals to Go Without Insurance

Recently, the executive director of the Consumer Federation of America warned that “since most Americans need a car and almost all states require the purchase of auto insurance, many lower-income workers are faced with the choice of paying… high, and often unaffordable prices, or breaking the law by driving without insurance.” This warning is not an idle threat, as CFA data shows that as many as a quarter to a third of drivers with household incomes under $36,000 are driving without insurance.

The CFA’s recent warning, however, was prompted by a new study. The study involved asking major insurance carriers throughout the United States to provide quotes for insurance. All variables were kept the same with the exception of information about income, education and/or employment. The purpose of this study was to find out whether these criteria were a factor in pricing.

The results showed not only that income and education were considered by insurance companies, but also that insurers were charging lower income people much more. In fact, for a factory worker with a high-school diploma but no college to buy insurance from Geico might cost as much as 45 percent more in premiums in some markets than a college-educated plant manager would pay for the same insurance.

Progressive Insurance charged the high-school educated factory worker as much as 33 percent more than a plant manager with a college degree. Liberty Mutual charged high school grads 13 percent more than college grads, and Farmers charged those who didn’t work for the government or hold a “professional” position as much as five percent more.

Unfortunately, these business practices may be hurting those who can least afford to pay for higher insurance costs. If the lower-income individuals then decide to go without insurance, this hurts every driver on the road.

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident in the Portland area, contact Zbinden & Curtis. Call (503) 287-5000 for a free case consultation.