Secret #1 - Tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. You must be truthful. This is not a trick or a ploy, it's just the right thing to do. Explain everything that happened to everyone involved. Don't leave anything out. Be sure that you do this with the claims adjusters and your doctors.

Secret #2 - Play fair. Your insurance company has a duty to play fair with you and you must do the same. That means make claims only for what you are entitled to. Don't exaggerate your injuries or your loss. At all costs, take the time and effort to maintain your credibility.

Secret #3- As soon as possible, notify your insurance company as soon as possible that you have experienced a loss. This will give your insurance company every opportunity to get the information and documentation it needs to quickly and fairly pay your claim.

Secret #4- Respond to inquires promptly. Your insurance company should be trying to get you payment for your loss as quickly as possible. If you delay in getting them answers or information, then you make any delay on their part that much more reasonable.

Secret #5 - Be courteous. I know it is tempting to write that sarcastic letter or make that call threatening all sorts of retribution for an insurance company's delay or denial but it does not help you get where you want to be. Go ahead and write a letter venting your anger about the maddening way that your claim has been handled; then throw it away. Now, write your insurance company and calmly explain to them just how frustrating and confusing this situation has been for you and why.

Secret #6 - Document your loss. Often, many items make up the loss you have experienced. If you are making a claim for personal injury, these may include doctor bills, physical therapy bills, mileage to appointments, and lost work time. These should all be documented to the best of your ability so that your insurance company has all the information it needs to properly pay your claim.

Secret #7 - Read your insurance policy. Sometimes people simply don't know what their insurance covers. This should be explained in your policy. Be sure to read the entire policy including exclusions, endorsements and riders. If the policy language is not clear or if it is ambiguous, then you should be covered for this item. It is the law in most states that policy language which is vague or can be read more than one way should be construed in favor of coverage. You are covered for what your policy says you are covered for, not what a claims adjuster says you are covered for.

Secret #8 - Don't undersell your claim. Surprising as it sounds, insurance companies believe that if a policy holder agrees to a value far less than the actual loss, it is a sign of insurance claim fraud. More importantly, if you have paid for insurance that covers your loss, you are entitled to be paid for your entire loss. Unfortunately, insurance companies know that time is on their side. After all, they have the money and you don't. Most folks can't continue to fight with their insurance company for very long so they take less than what the insurance company owes. They shouldn't be put in this position. If you can afford - or are willing- to stand up and stop this bullying type behavior, don't sell out for less.

Secret #9 - Don't waive the right to have your claim handled fairly and promptly. It is unlawful for an insurance company to condition payment of a valid claim on a policy holder's waiver of a bad faith action. For example, your insurance company has not played fair with you but is now willing to pay you. However, they will pay you only if you agree not to call them to task for their unlawful behavior. This is bad faith. You have the right to be paid for your loss without having to sign away your right to have your claim handled fairly. It is bad enough that an insurance company has tried to delay, underpay or refuse to pay someone who rightly deserves the coverage. It would be a complete travesty if the only way that the claim got paid was if the insured was forced to keep it all a secret. Payment of your claim should not be hush money. It is to cover a loss you have insured against, but now, unfortunately, have suffered.

Secret #10 - If you are injured, go to a doctor for treatment. Many people abide by the old adage of "walking off" their injuries. What I mean by this is that folks just figure that their injuries will go away with time. This is a natural thought process but it isn't always true. In fact, injuries can get much worse with time. Most of the time, you can get a much better outcome if you get medical treatment early on. If you have been in an accident or have been injured at work, you should get medical care. I don't mean if the injury can be taken care of with a band-aid. But don't minimize the fact that you have been injured. It is better to be safe than sorry.

Secret #11 - Keep in contact with your insurance company. After the initial contact, some people leave their insurance company in the dark about the claim. There are one time losses and there are ongoing losses. Most claims involve both. If your initial injury has gotten worse or now requires a different sort of treatment, you need to make sure your insurance company knows this. That way they are better able to evaluate and value your claim. An insurance company will resist significantly raising the value of a claim if it comes to them as a big surprise. Be sure you keep them involved.

Secret #12 - Get a lawyer. The unfortunate reality is that some insurance companies will simply refuse to pay what they owe unless an attorney is involved. If you have given all requested and reasonable information to your insurance company - and they still refuse to pay, it may be time to get help.

Telephone: (605) 342-0097 Fax: (605) 342-5170 email-