GET MORE MONEY: 3 Things You Need to Know About The Hartford Claim Process
A Guide for Getting a Bigger Settlement Check from Your Insurer
Milwaukee Personal Injury Attorneys Advice on Navigating the Claims Process
The Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc., commonly known as The Hartford, is an investment and insurance company based in Hartford, Connecticut. A perennial member of the Fortune 500, The Hartford is the 12th-largest property and casualty company in America. They’re probably best known as the company with a deer on their logo.
In recent advertising, the company’s commercials take a half-humorous/half-informational approach to insurance issues. They certainly seem like a company committed to keeping their policy holders informed and covered in case of an accident, but it doesn’t take much searching to find numerous online complaints from policyholders.
If you’re involved in a The Hartford injury claim following a car accident, you need an experienced lawyer protecting your right to fair compensation.
Warshafsky Law has extensive experience negotiating settlements for auto injury victims when insurance companies fail to make fair offers. Because we have car accident attorneys in Milwaukee who have worked for insurance companies, we know exactly how insurance companies operate and how to deal with their tactics.
1. How The Hartford Insurance Claims Process Works
Like most insurance companies, The Hartford lets you report a claim by phone or online. If you file your claim by phone, “a Hartford Customer Care representative will gather information” and answer your questions. If you file online, you’ll be contacted within one day.The Hartford pledges this on their website:
“Be thorough in our investigation.
We’ll confirm your insurance coverage and begin an investigation of your claim. In addition to reviewing the information you provided, your Claims professional will review reports from police and other law enforcement officials, statements from witnesses, car repair estimates, and any other relevant details.”
It sounds great, but be forewarned: As friendly and interested in helping you out as The Hartford’s claims rep seems over the phone, their reps are looking out for The Hartford first and foremost. When they say they just need to “gather information” about your accident, what they’re really looking for is a way to limit or deny your claim altogether.
The information the “claims professional” (aka claims adjuster) gathers will come from a variety of sources, including:
- The police report
- Witness and passenger statements
- Photos and measurements from the scene
- Repair estimate research
- Anything you say
During the course of their information gathering, you may be asked to sign a form authorizing the release of your medical records to The Hartford. Do not do this until you’ve consulted an attorney. These release forms can give your insurance company access to your entire medical history, and if there’s anything in there they can use to dispute your claim, they’ll use it. Something as innocuous as feinting at an outdoor festival due to dehydration will be twisted into “Well, you have a history of feinting and we believe you may have feinted while driving and caused the accident.”
Repeat: Do not give your insurance company access to your medical records until consulting an attorney. A good lawyer will be able to advise you on which medical records are appropriate to release to your insurance company.
Don’t Rush Out and Deposit Their Settlement Check
After the information gathering phase is completed, The Hartford will decide how much they’ll pay on your claim. Insurance companies usually send out a check for this amount with a letter explaining their settlement. Brace yourself, because the amount on the check is rarely enough to cover the expenses you’ve incurred.
If you have bill collectors hounding you for payment on your medical bills, it can be tempting to deposit the settlement check just to get the collectors off your back. Don’t do it until you’ve had a chance to get the opinion of an experienced personal injury attorney. Almost all personal injury law firms offer a free initial consultation.
Insurance companies are notorious for lowballing their settlement payments, and the check they send out is nothing more than an offer of settlement. The amount can be negotiated, but not if you deposit the check. Once you deposit their check, you’ve implicitly agreed to their settlement offer and there’s no option to negotiate with them.
2. Handling a Hartford Insurance Injury Claim on Your Own
Unless you’re in a coma, you’ll probably embark on the claims process on your own, believing your insurance company will come through for you in your time of need. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work out that way. If you’re planning to handle your claim without the assistance of an attorney, you need to be aware of the risks you face. For starters, we recommend reviewing the most common insurance company tactics used to minimize your settlement.
We can’t overestimate the importance of the initial call you’ll get from The Hartford’s claims rep. If it comes while you’re still groggy from pain meds or before you’ve had a chance to think through what you’re going to tell the rep, you need to postpone the call. Just tell the claims rep you’re not able to talk right now and ask for a callback number. You’re under no obligation to speak to them the minute they call, so be firm but polite in your request to reschedule the call. In the interim, write down your recollections of the accident and have your notes with you when you do speak with the adjuster.
Watch What You Say
There’s a good chance your conversation with the claims adjuster will be recorded, and any misstatement—however innocent—can and will be used against you. Whatever you do, don’t admit to being even partially at fault for the accident. It’s a good idea to have a copy of the police report well before you speak with anyone at the insurance company. If there’s anything in it that suggests you were partially to blame for the accident and this isn’t true, you need to contact the police and ask that the report be amended with a statement from you disputing the narrative.
Document Your Contacts with Your Insurance Company
There’s a good chance you’ll have more than one phone conversation with the claims adjuster, or with other personnel at The Hartford. Keep a journal of every phone call and follow up afterward with a brief letter or email recounting what steps they said they would be taking to resolve your claim. If they later deny what they told you over the phone, or try to say you haven’t been timely in following through with your claim, you’ll have documentation to show otherwise.
Understand What You’re Up Against
You might think the claims adjuster you’re speaking with and emailing is the only person between you and your settlement check, but there’s a chain of command that goes way above the person you’re communicating with. In addition to upper level managers, big insurance companies like The Hartford literally have entire office floors of attorneys whose mission is to find ways of weaseling out of policyholders’ claims.
A common tactic used by insurance companies is to delay the claims process past the statute of limitations so you will be shut out of taking legal action against them. In Wisconsin, the statute of limitations for filing suit against an insurance company is 3 years, and while this seems like a long time you’d be amazed at how an insurance company can string you along for 3 years. Your one bargaining chip in the claims negotiation process is the threat of a lawsuit, so you need to be keenly aware of the timeline. Once your case hits the 3-year mark, you’re stuck with whatever lowball settlement offer they make.
INJURED? It IS About The Money.®
hen people choose their personal injury lawyer based on the endorsement of a football player or actor, they risk choosing an attorney who has never actually won money or pain and suffering verdict for a client in a courtroom. Settlement mills forward your paperwork to the insurance company and take a cut of your damages.
Hundreds of times we have prepared cases like yours beyond the brink of trial. Facing unlimited liability AND an expensive jury trial, insurance companies fess up what your case is really worth. They HATE when you choose Warshafsky. Insurance companies know: it IS about the money.
3. 5 Strategies for Getting the Most from Your Injury Claim with The Hartford
Although an experienced attorney is the best way to get the most out of your insurance claim, there are some practical things you can do to improve your odds of getting the amount you’re entitled to:
1. Keep your cool
Dealing with the shenanigans of an insurance company can push anyone to the limit, but you need to resist the temptation to go ballistic on them and keep your communications as civil as possible. If you get branded as a “psycho,” it will become even easier for them to devalue your claim and endlessly string you along..
2. Know the full value of your claim by documenting all your expenses
You can’t go into the claims process without knowing exactly what you’re asking for. You need to keep records of all the expenses you’ve incurred since your accident—hospital bills, chiropractic treatment, out of pocket purchases of bandages and Acetaminophen, travel expenses to and from doctor appointments, and lost income from being unable to work. You can also document the pain and suffering the accident has cost you with photos of your injuries, any pain medications you’ve been prescribed and statements from your physician or physical therapist.
3. Don’t deny yourself needed medical care
Money shouldn’t be an issue here. If you need medical care, get it. Often, chiropractic care and physical therapy are usually needed after an accident, too. Don’t worry about what it’s going to cost. You have every right to get the medical care you need and your insurance company has an obligation to cover it.
INJURED? It IS About The Money.®
The settlement negotiation process can be draining and time-consuming, which is what the insurance company wants. While you’re worrying about a stack of unpaid medical bills, they’re earning interest on the settlement amount they haven’t paid you yet.
4. Talk to a Lawyer
Before you take on the claims process by yourself, get some input from an experienced attorney. Virtually every personal injury law firm offers a free initial consultation, Warshafsky Law included. At Warshafsky, you’ll meet with an experienced attorney, not a paralegal, and you’ll get our take on what kind of settlement the insurance company should be offering you. Then you can decide whether to retain an attorney or continue handling the claim yourself.
5. Hire an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer
To be sure you get everything owed you, hire an attorney. Besides having the legal expertise it takes to beat insurance companies at their own game, an attorney handles all the communication with your insurance company. From the day you retain an attorney, the insurance company is legally obligated to only communicate with your attorney.
Experienced Personal Injury Attorneys Get the Most for Your Hartford Insurance Claim
Insurance companies spend huge amounts of money on advertising that portrays them as companies who be there for you in your time of need. In reality, they’ll do everything they can to minimize payments on their policy holders’ claims. If you feel like you’re getting the runaround from The Hartford, you probably are. Things change quickly though when you’re represented by an attorney.
The attorney you hire is the most critical factor in getting the settlement you deserve. While many personal injury law firms boast of how many cases they settle every year, these firms are typically interested only in settling cases quickly so they can collect their fee and move onto the next case. Insurance companies know these “sign and settle” law firms never take cases to trial, so they can get away with lowball offers of settlement.
Aggressive Legal Representation Gets You a Bigger Settlement
Unlike other personal injury firms, Warshafsky Law prepares every case for trial from day one—and we aren’t shy about taking insurance companies to court. Faced with the possibility of losing big in court, and all the negative publicity that goes with it, insurance companies typically become much more generous in their settlement offers. If they don’t, we tell them “See you in court!”
What is it going to cost you to have Warshafsky Law represent you? Nothing. When we take on a case, we don’t ask for any payment until you have received compensation. Furthermore, our No Win, No Fee policy ensures you have nothing to lose by hiring us. At the very least, take advantage of our offer of a free initial legal consultation to get a professional opinion of your case.