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Accidents Happen But Insurance Companies are Created

I have always enjoyed reading, watching, and listening to various recounts of historical information on a wide range of topics. Wikipedia is a scary resource given the ease of access and also in creating of the history online. However, for broad strokes and a general overview it has proven quite resourceful.

  • Did you know that insurance has been around in some form since humans have gathered together in communities, or societies?
  • The form of insurance as we know it culminated as a result of the mercantile trade along treacherous rivers and oceans where the chance of loss was great, thus if a merchant received a loan on the shipment they would pay the lender additional monies to cancel the loan if the shipment was lost or stolen.
  • Did you know the first insurance company in America was created here in CharlestonSouth Carolina?

I won’t bore you anymore with history but just as we have advanced as humans, so to have our societies (at least in most parts of the world), and thus our businesses, or economies.

As stated in one of many lessons learned in Sun Tzu’s, Art of War:

It is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperilled in a hundred battles; if you do not know your enemies but do know yourself, you will win one and lose one; if you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperilled in every single battle.

Therefore, I try to learn as much as I can about insurance companies and convey that knowledge the best I can to clients that come in with questions.  Those questions mainly consist of:

  • trying to understand how their insurance company can treat them so poorly after they have religiously paid their premiums without ever having an insurance claim;
  • trying to understand how the insurance company of the negligent, ignorant, or omitting party, will not provide them a fair amount for the injuries, troubles, and ordeals they have experienced through no fault of their own; and/or
  • why the insurance company will not call them back or appreciate what they have had to experience and instead treats them disrespectfully or with disdain.

Well, it is very simple. It’s about money. The money insurance companies want to save by minimizing the payout on your injury, property, and/or life insurance claim. Simply stated insurance companies make money two ways:

  1. Through underwriting, the process by which insurers select the risks to insure and decide how much in premiums to charge for accepting those risks;
  2. By investingthe premiums they collect from insured parties.

The whole insurance business model is summed up succinctly as such:

 to collect more in premium and investment income than is paid out in losses

Your injury, or insurance, claim is the loss being referred to above. What the at fault party’s insurance company pays you cuts directly into their bottom line and therefore the less they can get out of paying your claim, the more they can invest in those really complicated structured asset backed securities, or CDO’s. You remember the recession was caused by ____? Greed.

And that greed can work both ways, on your extreme valuation or consideration of the fair amount to be paid and the insurance company’s extremely low valuation of your claim-regardless of facts.  Thankfully, advocates and plaintiffs’ attorneys exist to assist you in this eternal struggle of good vs evil. If you had to pay a plaintiff’s attorney the hourly wage the insurance company pays the defense attorneys, or advocates, I doubt you would ever be able to fight a fair battle.

Again we learn from Sun Tzu’s, Art of War:

Thus, what is of supreme importance in war is to attack the enemy’s strategy.

Please consider disrupting the strategy of insurance companies to make profit off of your injuries by low balling, denying, delaying, and defending against what you know is wrong. Just because insurance coverage has almost been made mandatory doesnt mean those same insurance companies have to make millions in profits off of your backs. Rise up and fight, now is your time!

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Hit-and-Run Accidents in South Carolina: What You Need to Know

I would imagine lawlessness abounds greatly in every state but lately it seems so many people are driving without any automobile insurance and/or not even stopping after being involved in a collision if they are able to drive away.

South Carolina law is clear on the requirements a driver involved in a hit-and-run must meet in order to pursue their own “uninsured” insurance coverage.  S.C. Code 38-77-170 copied below states:

SECTION 38-77-170. Conditions to sue or recover under uninsured motorist provision when owner or operator of motor vehicle causing injury or damage is unknown.

If the owner or operator of any motor vehicle which causes bodily injury or property damage to the insured is unknown, there is no right of action or recovery under the uninsured motorist provision, unless:

(1) the insured or someone in his behalf has reported the accident to some appropriate police authority within a reasonable time, under all the circumstances, after its occurrence;

(2) the injury or damage was caused by physical contact with the unknown vehicle, or the accident must have been witnessed by someone other than the owner or operator of the insured vehicle; provided however, the witness must sign an affidavit attesting to the truth of the facts of the accident contained in the affidavit;

(3) the insured was not negligent in failing to determine the identity of the other vehicle and the driver of the other vehicle at the time of the accident. (emphasis added).

Some people will try and manipulate the system so there have to be checks and balances to ensure some validity to what is being offered. Otherwise in rural areas of South Carolina every accident “avoiding a deer” would be claimed as a hit and run. Too bad the deer don’t carry insurance or have assets.

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Why Is It Important to Report a Wreck to the Highway Patrol or Local Police?

First and foremost for accountability when it comes time to be reimbursed for your property damage or personal injuries.  Yes, this essentially equates to insurance purposes. The person that causes the collision may be apologetic and a “really nice person” at the scene but a couple days later have a change of heart and not be so forthcoming with their admission of liability.   Therefore the primary reason is to ensure that the at fault, or sole contributor, that admits to being inattentive or distracted is memorialized by the reporting South Carolina Highway Patrol or local authorities. The primary goal of any insurance company is to protect their insured and if their insured said it was not their fault, the property damage on your car or medical treatment you incurred is not going to be reimbursed anytime soon, if at all.

Secondly, if this is a serious offense and someone is driving on the roadways under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they need to be stopped! Hopefully, no one is seriously injured and by helping this person realize the gravity of their actions, you may save lives down the road.

Thirdly, you have no idea the true impact this collision will have on any property damage to your car or any personal injuries to your person. (no pun intended). Your adrenaline is pumping, so you feel no pain initially. Or the frame of your car is bent but you don’t realize that until you pull off and the vehicle drives crooked. Too late. You let that “nice person” go with a handshake and a smile. That’s okay, I am sure you have a couple thousand dollars lying around to repair your car and medical expenses.

A few tips if you are in an accident, from both a personal injury lawyer and person that has been in two accidents (neither of which were his fault):

  • Call 911 or *HP immediately, regardless of severity. If not life threatening tell the operator and explain the details. Those calls are recorded by the way;
  • Take pictures of the property damage with your fancy phone or at the very least make a mental note;
  • Make sure to get any contact information from any witnesses, especially if they do not have time to stick around for the reporting officer. They can still be helpful but not if you don’t know how to get in touch with them. It would be better if they could stick around and talk to the officer;
  • If the other party tries to leave the scenemake every effort to get their license tag, vehicle description and/or notify the 911 operator. License tags are usually only 6 characters. You can remember that;
  • If you feel any pain at all, notify the reporting officer and go get checked out when the ambulance, or EMS comes out. Otherwise, you know what the insurance company for the at fault driver will say?  “Obviously you were not hurt because you did not seek immediate medical attention.”
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South Carolina Dog Bite Law: Landlords and Common Areas

South Carolina dog bite law adheres to strict liability when it comes to dogs biting or harming people, S.C. Code Ann. § 47-3-110:. The only defense would be if the dog was provoked in some way by the person that it attacked.

Recently the South Carolina Supreme Court rendered an opinion that helps in better illustrating the specific phrase of the dog bite law, “other person having the dog in his care or keeping.” In Clea v. Odom Opinion No. 27029, the court determined that claims for strict liability and common law negligence could move forward against the landlord for a tenant’s dog that attacked a child in the common area of the apartment complex. Citing Harris v. Anderson County Sheriff’s Office, 381 S.C. 357, 364, 673 S.E.2d 423, 427 (2009) the court stated, the presence or absence of a duty determines liability in situations that involve a statutory claim against a person having the dog in his care or keeping.  Id. at 365, 673 S.E.2d at 427.  There are three scenarios under § 47-3-110 when the attack is unprovoked and the injured party is lawfully on the premises:

First, the dog owner is strictly liable and common law principles are not implicated.  Second, a property owner is liable when he exercises control over, and assumes responsibility for, the care and keeping of the dog.  Third, a property owner is not liable under the statute when he has no control of the premises and provides no care or keeping of the dog.

Although each set of facts in a case are unique to that particular case, the SC Supreme Court helps limit the dark corners for the at fault owner or keeper’s liability insurance company to hide.

If you know liability insurance companies trying to hide from their duties to pay a fair and reasonable amount for the negligence of their insured, let me know.

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What Do You Know About Your Insurance Company?

If 100 people were polled about the the most important aspect of their insurance company, sadly 90 percent would say the cost, or price.  Yet, what good is paying insurance premiums if you are never going to be able to have peace of mind in the time you are in need of that insurance coverage? What? You never thought about actually having to use that insurance coverage?

Automobile insurance is mandated by most states, homeowners and property insurance is mandated by most mortgaged backed lien holders. When your life insurance policy goes into effect you won’t have to worry because you’re dead but wouldn’t it be comforting in your final days to know that your family will have no additional worries or hassles?

Then do your homework or just Google the insurance company you are thinking about engaging in coverage of your most valuable assets-you and your family! My friends ask me all the time what are the best insurance companies on my end to deal with. Of course I am jaded and cynical but there are those insurance companies that are fair and equitable. There are more that are inequitable and immoral but those are easy to find in an Internet search. Try Googling  “Allstate sucks” to see what comes up.

Chubb Insurance started a recent advertising campaign entitled,  “Who insures you doesn’t matter. Until it does.”  Chubb states the reason for this advertisement campaign:

A new corporate print advertising campaign reminds commercial and personal insurance purchasers and their agents and brokers that an insurer is only as good as its financial strength and its willingness to pay its claims in a fair, prompt and hassle-free manner.

 

Be in the 90% of people that talk about insurance costs, not in monetary value, but intrinsic value that go much further in your time of need.

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