denied stamp on an insurance claim fileBeing involved in an accident is bad enough, but finding out that your insurance company is refusing to cover the costs of your accident is downright awful.  If you find yourself caught in this unfortunate situation then take heart—you’re not the first person this has happened to.  Insurance companies are notorious for doing everything in their power to deny claims and save themselves as much money as possible.  The amount of financial power the insurance industry has is disturbing, and sometimes it seems as though they forget the reason we all buy insurance in the first place!

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to evaluate why your claim was denied.  There could be a simple explanation, or you might find that you’ll need to fight the insurance company’s denial with state regulators or with the help of an attorney.

Why Was My Insurance Claim Denied? 

First of all, try to understand exactly why your insurance claim was denied.  Here are some things to look for:

  • You have a new car. You aren’t actually covered because you are driving a new car and you never told the insurance company about it within the proper time frame.  Insurance companies typically have a period of time within which you must notify them that you’ve traded in your old car for a new one or bought a new car outright.  If you fail to let them know, your claim will be denied because you simply weren’t covered.
  • You are not covered by the insurance policy. If you were driving the car when the accident happened but you aren’t a named insured on the policy—and you have no other insurance coverage yourself, then the insurance company won’t cover the claim.  This happens often when teenagers crash Mom or Dad’s car and they aren’t listed as a driver with the insurance company.
  • Your coverage has lapsed. This is probably the simplest mistake to make.  Always make sure you keep your insurance policy up-to-date and pay your premiums on time!
  • You don’t actually have coverage for the type of claim you’re trying to make.  One good example is if you’re driving an older vehicle and decided against purchasing collision coverage because it is so expensive.  Well, if you damage your car, you won’t receive coverage for the damage because you don’t pay for that type of insurance.  Make sure you understand exactly what your policy covers, and what it does not.
  • You made the wrong type of claim. For example, you claimed that you were hit by an uninsured motorist, but the other party was in fact insured.
  • The amount of damage exceeds your policy limits.  Your insurance company may not cover the excess.

My Claim Should Not Have Been Denied—Now What?

If you’ve looked at all the reasons why your claim might have been denied and none apply to you, then it is time to take action.  What can you do to fight the mighty insurance company?  Here are some tips:

  • Take the easy approach to start. Simply write back to the insurance company and explain why you think your claim was wrongly denied.  Be sure to provide supporting documentation and keep records of everything you send to them.
  • File an appeal. If that doesn’t work, you can appeal the insurance company’s decision to the Virginia State Insurance Commissioner.
  • Call an attorney. If you think you need help fighting the insurance company, you can always hire a skilled attorney to help you with your claim. Be sure to look for a law firm that specializes in insurance claim denials.

If you’re not sure what to do about your denied insurance claim, please give us a call.  We’ll be happy to discuss the details of your situation with you to see if we can help.

Carl N. Lauer
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Representing injured persons in Virginia. Workers' Compensation Claims.

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