Sep 22, 2020
Most auto insurance companies are household names due to their massive advertising campaigns. You’re probably well aware of characters such as Progressive’s Flo, GEICO’s Gecko, NBA player Chris Paul’s State Farm alter ego, and the Limu Emu. The insurance industry is hypercompetitive, fighting for your auto insurance premium payments while hoping you’ll never be involved in a car accident. In 2019, the three biggest insurance companies (State Farm, GEICO, and Progressive) spent a combined $4.81 billion in advertising trying to convince millions of us that they were the best choice for our auto insurance needs.
The average U.S. driver in 2020 pays $1,548 per year in auto insurance premiums, according to the Zebra, an insurance comparison website. California ranks among the 10 most expensive states for car insurance, with the average annual premium of approximately $1,868. Unlike other bills and expenses where choices for service providers are limited, there are literally dozens of options for your automobile insurance carrier. So, how do you choose the best company? Is the lowest auto insurance premium available always the best policy choice for you?
Personal injury attorneys can provide car insurance shoppers unique perspectives and opinions on auto insurance choices, having had to navigate negotiations and lawsuits with virtually every insurance company at one point or another. At Dordulian Law Group, we have witnessed firsthand the notorious delay, deny, and defend tactics these companies use to protect their bottom lines. We’ve also seen insurance companies arbitrarily treat one policyholder with more respect than another, offering fairer settlements to select individuals with seemingly identical cases. Our extensive experience with auto insurance companies is based on years of interaction and communication through demand letters, negotiations, litigations, and settlements.
The Los Angeles personal injury lawyers at Dordulian Law Group are here to answer any questions about your insurance company negotiations and help you in the unfortunate event of an accident. We know how traumatic and stressful car accident injuries can be, and the difficulty involved in communicating with insurance companies in the aftermath. For additional in-depth information on this subject, please view our California Car Accident Settlement Guide, contact us online, or call us at 800-880-7777 with any questions.
When shopping for an auto insurance company, it’s essential to consider more than the price of the premium and cost of the deductible. You must also consider the amount of coverage, and how your company will handle your claim if you’re in an unfortunate accident. Until you actually file a claim with your auto insurer, your only experience with that company and the customer service they provide will likely be the time you initially negotiate the price of the premium and secure your policy. According to J.D. Power, loyalty to carriers is heavily influenced by claims handling. You have no way of knowing how much money will be offered for your injury claim, so it’s always valuable to consider customer satisfaction rankings.
Below are the top 10 auto insurance companies by premiums written, compromising 72% of the market share. Value Penguin’s proprietary rating measures both cost and customer service. JD Power’s Auto Claims Satisfaction Study rankings are based on surveys of customers’ perceptions of their insurer’s performance throughout the entire claims experience (i.e. from first notice of loss through the repair and delivery of their vehicle or settlement of a total loss).
Car insurance isn’t one-size-fits-all. Just because you have insurance with a particular company (even a “good” or “highly-rated” company), does not mean you have sufficient coverage that extends to your needs. A minimum amount of auto insurance is required in California in order to register a car. This is often referred to as 15/30/5 insurance, and is required under California Insurance Code §11580.1b. California minimum auto insurance coverage requirements include:
Purchasing the bare minimum auto insurance required by law will only save you money if you never get into an accident (regardless of whether you’re the at-fault driver or another individual is responsible). Most insurance companies and attorneys recommend, at the very least, 100/300/50 coverage instead of state minimum automobile insurance coverage amounts. That’s $100,000 per person for injuries not to exceed $300,000 per accident, and $50,000 for property damage. If you are shopping for an insurance policy, consider the 100/300/50 ratio a good starting point.
Uninsured motorist bodily injury (UMBI) and underinsured motorist (UIM) are valuable “extra” coverage options that your car insurance company must offer you. These options are an added measure of providing coverage to you and others in your vehicle if you are in an accident with a driver who is uninsured or does not have enough insurance to pay for the damage. Considering an estimated one in eight drivers on the road does not have auto insurance (or adequate insurance minimums), there is always a chance you will be involved in an accident with someone who does not carry adequate insurance. The minimum required auto insurance coverage amount is $30,000 per accident. If your entire family was involved in an accident requiring hospitalization, the costs for medical care could easily exceed policy limits. Without UIM coverage, you could incur significant medical debt, even if the accident was not your fault.
Unlike many other states, California cannot factor your credit score into the cost of your insurance coverage. If you fill out an auto insurance coverage calculator quiz, you may be asked about what is most important to you when shopping for coverage: the lowest cost, the best protection, or some combination of low cost and good protection. If you are trying to eliminate monthly expenses, you may prioritize lower cost and monthly premiums. Shopping for the lowest premiums may mean only buying liability coverage, which compensates a person other than the policyholder for personal injury or property damage. However, although this reduces your monthly expense, it can leave you in a vulnerable position.
As personal injury lawyers, it is devastating to have to tell people who are injured in car accidents – sometimes catastrophically – that they do not have enough coverage to compensate themselves or their family members following an accident. Minimum policy coverage in wrongful death claims is especially heartbreaking. To avoid a catastrophic insurance scenario, we always recommend having a sufficient amount of UMBI/UIM insurance to cover you and your loved ones. As far as “sufficient,” this essentially refers to a figure that equals the greatest amount you are able to afford. You simply cannot count on other drivers on the road being equipped to protect you and your family (and, if you drive in Los Angeles, you know this statement is absolutely true).
Although the California insurance code states that “No insurer shall attempt to settle a claim by making a settlement offer that is unreasonably low,” in practice, auto insurance companies do exactly that each and every day. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) advises anyone with a serious concern regarding how a claim is being handled to contact the local state insurance commissioner. If you are unsure if an insurance company offer is fair, an experienced Los Angeles personal injury lawyer at DLG can review your offer and provide you with guidance and advice that will help you make the best decision for your specific situation. In many scenarios, a car insurance company will offer a lower amount than what is fair – what you’re actually entitled to receive – while insisting the offer is the highest and best available. You do not need to wait until you have an offer from insurance company to contact a car accident lawyer at DLG. In fact, rather than dealing directly with the insurance company, waiting for their “best and fairest” settlement offer, you should contact an experienced DLG car accident lawyer immediately to ensure you have a dedicated advocate fighting aggressively on your behalf and ensuring you are never taken advantage of by insurance company adjusters whose only focus is the company bottom line and sustaining profits for shareholders.
In an ideal world, you wouldn’t need a personal injury lawyer to handle a car accident personal injury claim. Insurance companies would like you to believe they will fairly resolve a claim and look out for your best interests. If that were true, personal injury lawyers like the experienced, top-rated, and proven car accident specialists at DLG would not be helping hundreds of car accident victims every year. In reality, reasonable and fair insurance settlements are not automatic, and almost always involve an arduous and stressful fight. You and the auto insurance company both have a mutual interest in resolving the claim quickly, but the insurance company’s idea of what is a fair settlement will be based on protecting their bottom line. That “fair settlement” figure does not take into account your injuries, future medical needs, loss of earnings, and pain and suffering. That’s where DLG is here to help, and our proven track record of recovering over $100 million for our clients speaks volumes.
Insurance adjusters will appear friendly and sympathetic to your stress and difficulties over the phone. They will use the guise of being caring and concerned to get you to open up and disclose potentially damaging details. Any statements you make about your injuries will be used to downplay the value of your claim. No matter how empathetic, compassionate, or friendly an insurance adjuster may seem, he or she is not your friend and does not have your best interest in mind. Do not provide a recorded statement, do not speculate on who was at fault in a crash, and do not discuss the severity of your injuries. The sooner you speak with an experienced car accident personal injury lawyer at Dordulian Law Group, the sooner we can help you protect your legal rights and recover the financial compensation you rightfully deserve.
After any collision where an injury – even one that is minor and will ostensibly heal on its own – occurs, it is never too soon to contact a personal injury lawyer. The sooner you contact a DLG car accident attorney, the sooner recollections can be documented and evidence can be preserved. Remember that just because you have insurance coverage the insurance company will NOT automatically make policy coverage funds available to you as the policyholder. Auto insurance claims are business transactions, and should always be viewed as such. A settlement will almost always need to be negotiated, and for that to occur without you being taken advantage of, or having your rights trampled, you need a seasoned, experienced, and dedicated car accident lawyer at DLG fighting on your side. A car accident lawyer at DLG can help you maximize the value of your claim by fighting for fair compensation to help cover medical expenses, lost earnings, pain and suffering, and other damages.
At DLG, we handle car accident personal injury claims under contingency fee arrangements. We are paid a percentage of the value of the prevailing settlement. If you hire us and we do not recover a settlement or verdict, you will owe nothing. If you don’t win, you do not pay.
We have over two decades of experience handling auto accident insurance claims and have recovered over $100 million for our clients. We are proud to fight for our clients’ interests and advocate for their rights each and every day. Call DLG now to speak with an attorney about your car accident insurance claim today.
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