The Insurer Wants You to Sign a Release? What You Need to Know
Posted in: Car Accidents
State Farm is at the top of the personal insurance market, and it leads the pack by quite a large margin. According to the Insurance Information Institute, the number one auto insurer in the U.S. has 10 percent of the market share, and more than $64 million in direct premiums written.
In Ohio, the company has earned praise for safety patrol vans that provide free roadside assistance along highways in Akron, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, and other cities. However, there are also plenty of complaints from policyholders and third parties when filing State Farm auto insurance accident claims.
Ohio’s insurance bad faith laws are intended to protect policyholders who seek compensation under rightful first-party claims. Insurers cannot take adverse action against their customers unless there is reasonable justification, but many still engage in misconduct. At Kisling, Nestico & Redick, our Ohio insurance claims lawyers have considerable experience going up against even the largest insurance companies in the United States.
Founded in 1922 as a mutual auto insurance company owned by policyholders, State Farm expanded considerably over the next few decades. Auto insurance was, and still is, the primary focus. As of December 2017, more than half of the policies State Farm services in the U.S. and Canada are for auto coverage.
The company has experienced its share of criticism and controversy, especially as states take a more prominent role in enforcing insurance bad faith laws. When state insurance departments have not taken action, policyholders have filed civil lawsuits to enforce their rights. In a landmark early 2000s case, State Farm was forced to pay out $145 million in punitive damages for bad faith tactics in handling the claims of car accident victims.
At the outset, it’s important to understand how you file your claim after a car accident. If you’re an insured policyholder of State Farm, your claim is based upon your contract for coverage. You stand in the position of a first-party claimant. If you were injured in an auto collision by a driver who’s covered by State Farm, you file a third-party claim because you’re not in a contractual relationship with the company.
With this distinction in mind, there are certain steps you need to take to protect your interests, including:
When you’re filing as a policyholder, you have certain rights based upon your contractual relationship with State Farm. Knowing the company’s record for treatment of its own customers, it’s smart to work with an Ohio insurance claims lawyer to ensure State Farm upholds its end of the bargain. Fault in the accident will not be an issue. Typically, you’re filing as a first party when you were responsible for the crash, or if the incident only caused damage to your vehicle.
The terms of your policy dictate what you can recover, but potential State Farm claims may include:
If you carry PIP, you can recover a percentage of your medical bills and lost wages after paying your deductible.
The holder of your car loan may require you to carry collision, but it’s not mandatory under Ohio law. This coverage pays for property damage to your vehicle in the event of an auto crash.
While this option is expensive, it will reimburse you if your vehicle suffers damage from an incident other than a traffic-related crash.
Though Ohio requires motorists to carry certain minimum levels of auto insurance, some don’t follow the law. Other drivers might not have enough insurance to cover your losses. In both cases, you can file a claim as a first party if you add this option to your policy.
As a third-party claimant with injuries, property damage, or both, your rights are different as compared to a State Farm policyholder. You should reach out to a personal injury attorney for help with recovering compensation for medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering.
If you’re a policyholder running into roadblocks in filing State Farm auto insurance accident claims, please contact Kisling, Nestico & Redick to set up a free consultation about your situation. We can investigate potential misconduct by the company and advise you on your legal options. You can reach our Ohio insurance bad faith lawyers by calling 1-800-HURT-NOW, or by visiting us online.