Insurance companies now offer free mobile apps with cool features. For example, if you’re stranded, Allstate’s Motor Club can tap into your phone’s GPS and generate a menu of help options.
Included in most insurance companies’ mobile apps is the option of “Claims,” which allows their insureds, and even “guests” (people who are not insured with the company) to file an auto accident claim right from the scene of the accident.
These insurance companies promote their auto claims apps as condensing the insurance claims process “into a matter of hours.” Esurance even advertises that, “You could get your payment on the spot.”
It all seems so convenient and helpful, but…
Insurance claims apps save insurance companies money, not you
The truth is these apps are designed primarily for the benefit of the insurance companies. They make you do the job of the insurance adjuster, from gathering information at the accident, to taking pictures and videos, to filling out and submitting all the information.
The second way the apps help the insurance companies is to immediately separate the claimant from any expert help, such as an attorney. Insurance companies know that injured victims receive 2 to 5x more compensation when represented by attorneys. The rate of compensation increases to 9x when their own policy holders are represented by lawyers.
The information you provide can and will be used against you
Another way claims apps benefit insurance companies is by getting you to make recorded statements through their voice recorded notes and recorded video chats, all before you are represented by an attorney.
The reason I say before is because attorneys never allow their clients to give defendants’ insurance companies recorded statements. If you must talk to the insurance adjuster, insist that the conversation not be recorded.
Settling quickly can lose you money
Photo claims apps allows you to submit your property damage claim without going to the trouble of having your vehicle inspected. But if you accept the insurance company’s “payment on the spot,” it could cost you thousands of dollars.
Behrndt, owner of Crawford’s Auto Center, described a woman who’d brought in an Audi for which she’d received an appraisal by Allstate and an $800 check.
“Let me guess, you took pictures?” he told her. She indeed had done so, submitted them as Allstate requested and received that appraisal…
The real damage: “Four thousand and some odd dollars.”
Mark Vettori, president of Hunt Collision Services, described in a video a similar incident in which a photo appraisal missed significant damage rendering a Honda unsafe to drive.
The photo appraisal revealed merely $177.62 in work, Vettori said. But he noticed obvious “structural damage” and other extensive issues.
“We immediately put him in a rental car,” he said. Besides safety concerns, there was a mechanical issue — a “high probability” that further use would “blow the engine.”
“This car would never pass a PA inspection,” Vettori said.
The repair was supplemented twice for a bill of $3,626.25.
“Quite a big difference,” he said.
Allstate will require all Auto Claims to be submitted by App in 2017
Allstate states that their Claims App has been so successful that Allstate will close all of their drive-in inspection centers nationwide (with the exception of Rhode Island and Massachusetts who banned photo estimating claims) by the end of summer 2017.
Use your phone to call a lawyer, not to use the Claims App
However, you can still your phone to call your lawyer at the scene of an accident. Make sure you are represented by an attorney before submitting anything to the insurance company, especially through their claims app. The insurance companies lure you in with promises of convenience, helpfulness, and a quick settlement, but in the end they use their Auto Claims Apps to reduce the value of your personal injury claim and cost you money.
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Disclaimer: This article provides general information and should not be taken as legal advice. Answers to questions or comments do not form an attorney-client relationship. Kim R Brown is an attorney licensed in Arizona. This article is an advertisement.