USAA INSURANCE CLAIMS
Do you have a USAA Car Wreck Claim? Call Alex R. Hernandez Jr. for immediate help 361-454-1000
Auto insurance is a multi-billion dollar industry where you agree with the insurer to pay them a certain amount of money so that they can protect you from significant financial loss in the event of an accident, for a period of time. Current auto insurance industry stats are as follows:
- $1,548 is the average car insurance premium in the United States.
Since 2011, rates have skyrocketed by 29.6% nationally. The rate of increase varies by individual state and city.
- Average annual rates now exceed $6,200 in some American cities, more than four times the national average.
- In 2019, the least expensive car to insure was a Fiat 500x, with an annual car insurance premium of $1,467 (5.9% of MSRP).
- The Maserati Quattroporte was the most expensive car to insure with an average rate of 4.4% of its MSRP ($4,742).
- By percentage of MSRP, Nissan was the most expensive vehicle brand to insure, at 8.7%.
- By percentage of MSRP, Porsche was the least expensive brand to insure (3.6%).
- Vans were the cheapest car type to insure with annual premiums totaling $1,688.
- Sedans were the most expensive vehicle type to insure, with average costs coming to $2,275 per year.
- Green/hybrid cars are some of the most expensive models to insure due to the cost of repairs and replacement — $2,110 to insure a year, on average.
Some of the most popular insurers for auto accidents are Allstate, Progressive, Esurance, Liberty Mutual Insurance, Nationwide Insurance, Travelers Insurance, and Geico.
The average settlement for a USAA Insurance claim after a minor accident is between $14,000-$28,000, and is typically higher for severe or permanent injury.
If the driver was intoxicated at the time, this can also yield a higher settlement payout. But USAA has a lot of experience handling these claims, so you have to have your guard up when navigating the claims process with this company. Below are some tips to help you handle a claim with USAA.
TIP #1 – AVOID GIVING USAA A RECORDED STATEMENT, BUT IF YOU DO, WATCH FOR THESE DAMAGING STATEMENTS:
One of the first things an insurance adjuster is going to do is to ask you for a recorded statement. They want you to be on record saying anything that could release them from liability. You do not have to give a statement, but if you do, here are some things to avoid:
Do not admit fault
Stating that you are to blame for the accident while on record could ruin your chances of making a successful claim, and for receiving compensation. You do not have to give any information as to whose fault the accident was. You might be dazed, emotional, apologetic, or nervous, and you might say something that places you in a bad position. Instead, let the adjuster know you will be waiting for the official investigation to conclude before confirming whose fault the accident was.
Do not make guesses as to what happened
Some adjusters may try to convince you that by law, you have to give a recorded statement or that a recorded statement is necessary to settle your claim. They may ask you how you think the accident happened, and as described in the preceding section, you might say something about how you think the accident occurred that could be used against you later, to make it seem as if the accident was your fault. Speculating about what happened when you don’t really have all of the details might hurt your chances for compensation. You may politely decline to answer this type of question.
Do not give information about your injuries
As discussed above, giving too much information might mean that one little snippet of your recorded conversation might be used against you. So, if you make an offhand comment about not being hurt ‘that bad’, or that you ‘feel fine’, whether or not you’ve been evaluated by a medical doctor yet, this might hurt any claims for injuries that might not yet have surfaced at the time of the recorded statement. This would limit your ability to claim certain injuries or extent of the injury, and any medical records for these injuries might be contradicted by your statements.
Do not give accept your first settlement offer
The adjuster might give you a settlement offer during this recorded session, and in the state, you might be in at the time, you might be inclined to accept this offer. But know that this initial offer, if any, is a lowball offer, the worst one you’ll likely get. It’s an attempt to secure the lowest amount of payout for the insurer, and you don’t yet truly know the value of your claim at this time.
You might think telling their side of the story to an adjuster is necessary, that they need to know firsthand from you what happened, and to listen to your defense, but you might later learn that this interaction isn’t harmless. You may come to find out that the USAA Claims adjuster used your comments to limit the settlement offer. Remember that they don’t have your best interests in mind and that you can politely refuse to answer questions. You are better off calling an attorney and letting them handle this for you because the attorney knows how and when to present the right information to the adjuster.
If you need assistance with the initial communications with USAA, please contact Alex R. Hernandez, Jr. PLLC. We know how to handle these situations, as we have many years of experience handling auto accident claims with USAA in Texas.
TIP #2 – DON’T LET USAA REDUCE YOUR MEDICAL COSTS!
USAA might have you submit medical bills once you’ve initiated a claim with them from a car accident. But what happens with the information in these bills might surprise you. USAA Insurance may dispute the billed amounts in your medical bills. The adjuster may reduce amounts to what they determine to be the “usual and customary” charges for similar medical care in the area. They do not simply add up the bills and work with the numbers provided in them. They might argue that you were overbilled and that they do not owe you the full amounts charged.
To determine these “usual and customary charges”, USAA might consult medical experts or professionals who decide whether or not your charges were usual and customary for the type of treatments you received in the area you received them. Then, USAA may base its settlement offer on this reduced amount—which may be way less than you actually owe.
An attorney can help you handle this scenario. Or instance, an attorney would probably argue that your doctor thought those specific treatments were necessary and that USAA shouldn’t try to discount your need for treatment by saying it was unnecessary just so they can avoid paying the amounts in full.
The experienced attorneys at Alex R. Hernandez, Jr. PLLC knows how to handle these situations, presenting evidence backing up your medical bills and arguing that your treatments were necessary and were billed correctly and justifiably.
TIP #3 – DON’T LET USAA DEVALUE YOUR CLAIM!
After a car accident, many drivers assume their claim is worth the sum of their medical bills and property damage, but your claim can be worth so much more!, and USAA knows this! So, as stated above, don’t accept a reduced or lowball offer. It may take litigation, but you can possibly recover the following in addition to your medical and repair bills:
- Future medical expenses – Many accident victims must be treated for a period of time longer than the days immediately preceding the accident. Some injuries require surgery or physical therapy, or both, which aren’t always immediately scheduled. Sometimes it’s better to wait to make a claim until you complete your medical treatment, but legal claims have certain deadlines and you can’t run past those or you lose your ability to file suit. The attorneys at Alex R. Hernandez, Jr. PLLC knows how to present future medical expenses through the use of expert medical reports or other types of evidence to project the cost of treatment in the future.
- Lost wages – You may not miss just a couple of days after your accident. If your injuries are severe enough, you may not be able to work for months, or at all anymore. Our attorneys can take your current pay and use it as a means to calculate what you will not be receiving in wages due to the accident and your injuries. Way try to present this to USAA in such a way as to justify a higher settlement payout, to cover your bills for the period of time you cannot work as a result of your injuries.
- Other expenses – Sometimes, victims of auto accidents are unable to do things for themselves that they were able to do before they were injured. If you can no longer drive yourself, you might need to pay for a ride to places you need to go. If you can no longer clean your house, you may need to hire a service to do that for you. If you need help caring for loved ones, you might have to hire professionals to do that for you. The attorneys at Alex R. Hernandez, Jr. PLLC can help get those costs covered for you.
- Pain and suffering – Pain and suffering are difficult for a layperson to place a monetary value on. It takes a specific approach that car accident attorneys know how to manage. You may have experienced mental anguish along with your physical pain and emotional suffering due to your accident. You may not know how to express to a USAA adjuster what this accident has done to you and how it’s going to potentially affect you for the rest of your life, but a good attorney can.
- Punitive damages – If the person who is liable for your accident was driving to a degree of gross negligence, you may be able to seek punitive damages or damages that punish the conduct of the other party. For instance, if the person was intoxicated or driving recklessly, this may mean you can be awarded punitive damages against them.
TIP #4 – CONSIDER HIRING AN ATTORNEY TO FILE A LAWSUIT
If USAA won’t make a sufficient settlement offer, you may want to consider filing a lawsuit instead of giving in to their lowball offer. Litigating personal injury lawsuits is complicated; there are procedural steps and deadlines to be met, and there are ways to be successful and little missteps that might blow the case. Hiring a personal injury attorney to litigate your case might be a smart move.
Your case may not go all the way to trial, but if it does, you will need to file a petition that doesn’t just cover the basics, but really shows how the other driver was at fault and how USAA should accept liability. Once the suit is filed, your attorney will then conduct discovery – a very crucial and informative part of the litigation process that can make your case and potentially force a settlement. Your attorney will attend hearings for you unless you need to be present, at which time the attorney will represent you and your interests in court. If settlement negotiations are successful, you may receive a fair settlement rather than the one USAA was trying to make you accept using claim settlement practices geared toward paying less than what you might be able to be awarded in a lawsuit. But prior to settlement, if your damages start looking like they’re going to be higher than the driver’s USAA policy limits, then USAA might get their own attorneys involved. It will prove beneficial to have an experienced personal injury attorney to help you through this process.
The experienced attorneys at Alex R. Hernandez, Jr. PLLC can help you get the settlement or judgment you deserve after an auto accident. Don’t let USAA’s adjusters convince you that you deserve any less! Contact my offices at 361-454-1000 for a free consultation today!