If you have been hurt in an accident there are many things you are worried about. You are worried about your medical bills, your job, and how you are going to pay your household expenses while you are off work. The insurance companies know you are worried, and they know that the more pressure you are under the more likely you are to settle your case before you know the extent of your injuries.
Insurance companies do not offer to pay you while you are off work. They don’t offer to pay the medical bills as you go. If they did that, there would be a lot less stress in your life, and thus no hurry to settle your claim. However, if you are behind in your mortgage because you can’t work, then the pressure to settle is immense.
There is a tool that may help with this problem. It is a Wisconsin statute, §628.46. It provides that a claim is overdue if it is not paid within thirty days of being presented to the insurance company. There are exceptions of course, and the insurance company jumps at any chance not to pay. If the liability is clear, and you submit written notice of the claim with detailed proof of loss, then the insurance company is required to pay that part of the claim. If the insurance company does not pay it within 30 days, it is subject to 12% interest from the time of the demand until it is paid.
There is another aspect of this statute that puts some teeth in it. If an injured person has to sue to collect her damages she can bring a claim under §628.46. Such a claim makes the insurance adjuster’s conduct relevant. For instance, if the insurance company refused to pay because they believed liability was in dispute, the claims file with that information in it becomes relevant to what the adjuster really believes. Insurance companies are notorious for protecting their claims files. They do not want the public to see how they evaluate injuries, and as a result the prospect of having to turn that file over helps the injured person.
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