Are You Being “Low-Balled” by Your Insurance Company?

Web Admin - Monday, June 26, 2017

You pay your insurance premium religiously and on time because you know you need to protect your investment. Understandably, you expect your insurance company to pay when an accident or catastrophic incident occurs. Then you file the claim, and the offer that comes back seems low – not just a little low, but really low. What do you do? Hopefully, you recognize that your insurance company is low-balling you, and you reach out for legal assistance.

Low-Ball Offers Are Surprisingly Common

Although insurance companies are infamous for their feel-good, family-like slogans, they are for-profit businesses. They do not make their money paying out settlements. They collect premiums, bank on consumers not needing the policy, and employ various strategies to try and decrease the amount they pay out for each claim.

One of the most commonly used approaches is the low-ball offer. Most often, this strategy is employed by the adjuster responsible for handling your claim. Their hope is that you will take the offer they give you and cash the check. Thankfully, you do not have to accept this offer.

Fighting a Low-Ball Offer

There are many ways to fight against a low-ball offer, but assistance from an insurance dispute attorney is often more effective than facing it alone. Versed in the law and insurance claims, a lawyer can reduce the stress of dealing with the insurance company. They can review your case and ensure you have submitted all the appropriate documentation, which may have affected the offer you were given. Your attorney can also protect your interests and negotiate the most favorable settlement possible, sometimes without ever having to go through litigation.

Unfortunately, even attorneys can experience push-back from insurance companies. Thankfully, they have numerous tools and legal processes at their disposal. For example, your attorney may suggest filing a bad faith lawsuit to increase your settlement. (Bad faith is when an insurance company is failing to do its job. A bad faith lawsuit encourages them to do the right thing.) While it might not be the most appropriate path in every case, it could be an option for those who continue to experience low-ball offers, claim denials, and delayed processing of their claims.

Contact Our Rolling Meadows Insurance Dispute Lawyers

At Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC, we protect the rights of victims, including their right to pursue full and fair compensation. Dedicated and experienced, our Rolling Meadows insurance dispute lawyers can fight for you. Learn more about how we can assist with your case by scheduling a personalized, no-obligation consultation. Call 847-934-6000 today.

Ken ApicellaAbout the Author: Attorney Ken Apicella is a founding partner of DGAA focusing in the areas of personal injury, employment, insurance coverage disputes, and civil litigation. Ken earned his J.D. from DePaul University College of Law in 1999. He has been named a SuperLawyers Rising Star and a Forty Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch. Ken has written and lectured for the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education and regularly serves as a moderator at Northwest Suburban Bar Association's Continuing Legal Education seminars.


Insurers May Be Misusing Cell Phone Data to Deny Consumer Claims

Web Admin - Tuesday, March 21, 2017
American consumers sink millions a year into insurance coverage for their homes, vehicles, and health. The expectation is that faithful and timely payments will cover them if an accident or catastrophic event occurs. Unfortunately, many learn all too late that this is not always the case. Worse yet, some consumers have been implicated in insurance fraud cases. What basis do the insurance companies have for denying these insurance claims? What evidence do they use to press charges against their own customers? The following explains.

Cell Phone Tower Data Leads Denied Claims and Criminal Charges

Insurance companies have been using cell phone tower data to deny claims for some time now, but they have recently escalated matters, often bringing criminal charges against their consumers. An Iowa woman, whose home had caught on fire in 2014, is a prime example.At the time of the fire, the woman claimed to be with her husband and coworkers nearly 17 miles from her home, but the insurance company collected cell phone data that placed her within five to 12 miles of her home. After denying her claim, they filed arson charges and insurance fraud charges against her. She spent the next three years trying to prove that she had not been at home at the time of the blaze.

Thankfully, the woman was eventually acquitted of the charges; she and her lawyer managed proved her innocence using the insurance company’s data against them. Within just minutes of returning to the campsite, she checked her voicemail. During this call, her phone pinged a tower near the campground. Moments later, her mother called. That time, her phone pinged a tower 17 miles away. Minutes later, her husband called, and this time, her phone pinged a tower almost 20 miles away.

What does all this prove? Why does it matter? It is all just another item in the insurance company’s bag of tricks – the one they often use to deny claims. 
This goes beyond mere claim denial, though; it is bullying.

The issue is not reserved for a single company or type of claim either. A California couple is facing criminal charges for insurance fraud after they attempted to file a claim with their insurance carrier, claiming their car had been stolen. Their insurance company claims their cellphones pinged at a tower where the car was later found. Another California couple gave up on their claim after the insurance company started to insinuate they may have somehow been involved in the theft of their car. This is the goal the insurance company hopes to achieve; if they can scare their consumers, they can avoid paying out claims. That, of course, means more money in their pockets.

Protect Yourself While Pursuing Your Insurance Claim

Although you can pursue a new insurance claim or fight a denied one without legal assistance, it is highly advised that you seek experienced counsel. This will not only ensure your rights are protected during the claims process; it can increase your overall odds of reaching a positive outcome in your case. Learn more about how Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC can serve you. Call 847-934-6000 and schedule a consultation with our Buffalo Grove insurance dispute lawyers today.

Ken ApicellaAbout the Author: Attorney Ken Apicella is a founding partner of DGAA focusing in the areas of personal injury, employment, insurance coverage disputes, and civil litigation. Ken earned his J.D. from DePaul University College of Law in 1999. He has been named a SuperLawyers Rising Star and a Forty Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch. Ken has written and lectured for the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education and regularly serves as a moderator at Northwest Suburban Bar Association's Continuing Legal Education seminars.


Two Main Legal Options for Insurance Disputes

Web Admin - Monday, March 21, 2016

legal options for insurance disputes, Illinois Insurance Dispute AttorneysPeople purchase insurance policies to put their minds at rest. However, countless valid claims are denied by insurance companies every year. Many individuals are upset when their insurance company disputes a claim and refuses to pay—insurance companies are in the business of making money, and paying out claims is not a part of their business plan. When you find yourself involved in an insurance dispute with your insurance company, an experienced Illinois insurance dispute lawyer can help you deal with the insurance company and your disputed claim. 

Settlement As a First Option 

The most common approach for handling insurance disputes is to enter into settlement negotiations. A majority of insurance disputes are successfully resolved via settlements. Settlement negotiations begin when your lawyer submits your claim to the insurance company. The insurance company is not interested in paying the full amount of the disputed claim, but may be persuaded into paying a reduced amount of the claim instead. The insurance company will most likely reject your settlement claim; however, it will likely pitch back to you a counter settlement offer. 

After discussing the counter offer with your lawyer, you and your lawyer can then determine if the counter offer is satisfactory or not. If not, you can reject the counter settlement offer and put forth another settlement offer of your own. This process repeats until you and the insurance company come to an agreement, or ultimately decide that a settlement is not going to work. When settlement negotiations fall apart and fail, the dispute must be brought before the courts to be resolved. 

Proceeding to Court As a Second Option

If all else fails, your lawyer can prepare your insurance dispute claim for court. As an initial matter, it is very likely that your insurance policy contains a clause directed to a statute of limitations for bringing an insurance dispute to court. Your lawyer should be able to review your policy and inform you of when you must file the action in court in order to prevent your claim from being time barred under the policy. 

Your case will most likely be based on contract law or the Illinois Insurance Code, both of which your insurance dispute lawyer is highly familiar with. Additionally, your cause of action will most likely be based on a breach of contract (i.e., the insurance company refusing to pay, as per the insurance contract), or a violation of the Illinois Insurance Code. Your insurance dispute lawyer will work closely with you to develop your strongest case against your insurance company so that you can get the claim payout that you need. 

If you are having difficulty with your insurance company refusing to payout a valid claim, please feel free to contact one of our experienced Illinois insurance dispute attorneys today. Our firm serves the communities of Rolling Meadows, Buffalo Grove, Barrington, Inverness, Palatine, Des Plaines, Schaumburg, and Arlington Heights. Call 847-934-6000 to speak to a member of our team. 

Ken ApicellaAbout the Author: Attorney Ken Apicella is a founding partner of DGAA focusing in the areas of personal injury, employment, insurance coverage disputes, and civil litigation. Ken earned his J.D. from DePaul University College of Law in 1999. He has been named a SuperLawyers Rising Star and a Forty Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch. Ken has written and lectured for the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education and regularly serves as a moderator at Northwest Suburban Bar Association's Continuing Legal Education seminars.



Bad Faith Insurance Claims

Web Admin - Friday, October 23, 2015

denied insurance claim, Crystal Lake insurance dispute attorney, bad faith insurance claimsIn some instances when a claim is made on an insurance policy, an insured may believe that the insurer has acted in bad faith in settling that claim. Bad faith may occur through a delay in settling an insurance claim as well as the outright denial of the claim. An insurance company that acts in bad faith in the settlement of a claim may be forced to pay the insured for those actions. 

Claims under the Insurance Code 

Under the Illinois Insurance Code (§155), it is possible to recover a statutory penalty, attorney’s fees, and other costs if an insurer fails to fulfill its obligations in an unreasonable manner after a claim is made. 

Specifically, an insured must prove that there was a delay in settling the claim that is vexatious and unreasonable. Determining if the delay is vexatious and unreasonable requires an examination of the totality of the circumstances. Some of the factors that are considered include the attitude of the insurer, whether the insured had to file a lawsuit to recover, and whether the insured was deprived of his or her property for a period of time. 

The amount that may be recovered as a penalty under §155 violations cannot exceed any of the following: 

- Sixty percent of the amount which the court or jury finds the insured is entitled to recover against the insurance company;

- $60,000; and

- The excess of the amount that the court or jury finds the insured is entitled to recover, exclusive of costs, over the amount that the insurance company offered to pay to settle the claim before the action. 

The primary defense to a bad faith claim is that there is a bona fide dispute as to whether a policy provides coverage for the claim. If a bona fide dispute exists, denying or delaying in the handling of the claim is not considered a violation. Further, it has been held in Illinois that conduct of insurers is also vexatious and unreasonable when the insurer presents a legitimate policy defense, a genuine legal or factual issue as to coverage exists, or the insurer takes a reasonable legal position based on an area of law that is unsettled. 

Action that Results in a Violation of §155 

Conduct that leads to a violation of the duty of good faith and fair dealing includes, but is not limited to, the following: 

- Knowingly misrepresenting relevant facts or insurance policy provisions;Not maintaining prompt and regular communication with the insured;

- Refusing to pay a claim (either in whole or in part) that the insurer acknowledges as being due;

- Settling a claim for less than what it is actually worth; and

- Failing to properly investigate a claim. 

Insurance Dispute Attorneys 

If you believe that your insurance claim has been delayed or denied in bad faith, it is important to reach out to an experienced Crystal Lake insurance dispute attorney. Our firm represents individuals in communities such as Schaumburg, Crystal Lake, Palatine, Des Plaines, Buffalo Grove, Rolling Meadows, Barrington, Arlington Heights, Inverness, and Deer Park. 

Ken ApicellaAbout the Author: Attorney Ken Apicella is a founding partner of DGAA focusing in the areas of personal injury, employment, insurance coverage disputes, and civil litigation. Ken earned his J.D. from DePaul University College of Law in 1999. He has been named a SuperLawyers Rising Star and a Forty Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch. Ken has written and lectured for the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education and regularly serves as a moderator at Northwest Suburban Bar Association's Continuing Legal Education seminars.



Insurance Claim After an Automobile Accident

Web Admin - Friday, July 31, 2015

insurance claim, Illinois car accident lawyer, insurance disputeIn a perfect world, we would not need insurance because we would never have any accidents. Unfortunately, we do not live in such a wonderful place. If you have never been involved in an automobile accident, you may not be familiar with the process of making an insurance claim. Though we hope you never have to go through this process, understanding what to expect if you do can be helpful.

Illinois Fault-Based Insurance

When it comes to automobile accidents, Illinois is a fault-based state. This means that whoever is legally at fault for the accident is responsible for paying those individuals injured by the accident. Usually, this means that the at-fault party’s insurance carrier will pay for the damages. An individual involved in an accident caused by another driver has three options:

  1. 1. File a claim with his or her own insurance company, which will then pursue a subrogation claim against the at-fault party’s insurance company;
  2. 2. Pursue a claim directly with the at-fault party’s insurance company; or
  3. 3. File a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver.

Pursuing Insurance Claims

Usually, automobile accidents involve claims with insurance companies. The requirements on automobile insurance are codified under the Illinois Insurance Code. After a claim is filed, a claims adjuster will be assigned to the case. The adjuster may contact the insured person to obtain more information about the accident. In addition, the adjuster may do the following:

  1. 1. Request a copy of the police report;
  2. 2. Contact the other driver involved in the accident;
  3. 3. Contact any known witnesses to the accident;
  4. 4. Inspect the car for damages (this may include the adjuster taking photographs of the vehicle); and
  5. 5. Contact healthcare providers for information in relation to any injury expenses.

If the accident resulted in no injuries, the only issue will be repair to the vehicle. Resolution of claims made for vehicle repairs usually involves one of the following options:

  1. 1. Use a body shop approved by the insurance company: these shops are already approved to perform automobile repair by the carrier; the claimant simply takes his or her car in for an estimate and the work is subsequently completed;
  2. 2. Obtain quotes: the adjuster may request that the claimant take the vehicle to several shops in order to obtain estimates to compare; or
  3. 3. Claimant uses their own shop: claimants may decide to use a shop of their choosing. But, this may result in the claimant having to pay the difference in cost between the shop he or she chooses and what the insurance company determines is the fair price of the work.

If injuries occur as a result of the accident, resolving the insurance claims becomes more complex. It will be necessary for the claims adjuster to receive evidence of all medical bills. This may require the claimant to sign a waiver granting the insurance company access to his or her medical records. Further, personal injury can add significant costs on top of the cost to repair the vehicle. This added cost may make coming to an agreement on who was at fault and for what amounts much more difficult and time-consuming.

Making claims against insurance companies can be difficult and frustrating. For assistance with your insurance claim, call an experienced Illinois insurance dispute attorney at 847-934-6000 today. Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC proudly provides representation for individuals throughout the northwest suburbs, in communities such as Crystal Lake, Barrington, Deer Park, Inverness, and Schaumburg.

Ken ApicellaAbout the Author: Attorney Ken Apicella is a founding partner of DGAA focusing in the areas of personal injury, employment, insurance coverage disputes, and civil litigation. Ken earned his J.D. from DePaul University College of Law in 1999. He has been named a SuperLawyers Rising Star and a Forty Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch. Ken has written and lectured for the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education and regularly serves as a moderator at Northwest Suburban Bar Association's Continuing Legal Education seminars.

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