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Bozeman Auto Insurance Dispute Lawyer

Bozeman Auto Insurance Dispute Lawyer

You submitted a claim to your car insurance carrier to tap into your uninsured motorist coverage after an accident because you wanted to receive the benefits you believed you were entitled to by having comprehensive coverage if you struck wildlife and needed repairs. Or maybe an insurer didn’t respond to you or shortchanged you when paying on your claim, or even unexpectedly canceled your policy.

How should you respond in these situations? Get in touch with a Bozeman auto insurance dispute lawyer.

Our attorneys are experienced insurance dispute litigators who know what Montana law and other applicable laws require of insurers. We’ve handled countless claims issues on behalf of insureds and claimants since our firm, Western Justice Associates, PLLC, was first founded, and we want to help you.

Call or email our law office to schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys and one of our car insurance dispute lawyers in Bozeman. There’s no cost for that meeting.

Understanding How Auto Insurance Works in Montana

In our country, states are either at-fault or no-fault, and Montana is the former. If you’re wondering what it means to be an at-fault state, it refers to one in which you’re able to file a claim with the other driver’s insurance company, provided you can establish that their negligence resulted in the crash, to recover compensation for any damages you sustained. Those might include medical bills, lost wages, vehicle repairs, etc.

Now, Montana is also a modified comparative fault state, with a 51% rule in place. What does this mean? Even if you can show that someone else’s negligence did indeed cause your crash and residual injuries and other losses, you cannot recover compensation for them if you were more than 50% at fault for the collision.

In situations where you are partially or completely at fault for crashes, the other motorist doesn’t have insurance, or other circumstances not involving another driver, you may instead file a claim with your own insurance company to claim benefits you believe you’re entitled,such as:

  • Collision physical damage coverage
  • Uninsured (UM) or underinsured (UIM) motorist coverage
  • Comprehensive physical damage coverage
  • Medical payments (MedPay)

State minimum auto insurance requirements are:

  • $25,000 per individual in bodily injury coverage
  • $50,000 per collision bodily injury coverage
  • $20,000 in property damage coverage

No matter whether coverage meets the minimum limits or exceeds them, you may encounter an issue when trying to recover what you believe you’re entitled to per your policy documents or our state’s laws.

Making Sense of Coverage You Have

Here in Montana, having bodily injury (liability) and property damage coverage is mandatory, per the CSIMT. The former covers any injuries other motorists sustain if you are deemed at fault for the crash and thus their getting hurt. The latter refers to compensation car, building, and other property owners can tap into if a wreck that you cause damages something of theirs.

Insurers are required by Montana law to provide you with uninsured motorist coverage unless you proactively sign a form waiving it. UM and UIM coverage covers damages up to policy limits when a motorist who strikes you doesn’t have any insurance.

Other types of coverage you might have elected to add to your policy when buying insurance include:

  • Collision: Individuals who lease vehicles might secure this to pay for the damage their vehicle sustains if struck by another car.
  • Medical payments: This covers the medical bills you or any passengers incur in a crash without fault, affecting payouts.
  • Comprehensive or full: Individuals who have financed their vehicle are often required by their loan company to secure this coverage to cover non-accident damage to their car, including theft or vandalism.

Why do we bring up these different insurance options afforded to Montanans? We do so merely to serve as a primer to help you understand policy documents and whether potential impropriety occurred.

There are multiple levels to insurer misconduct beyond this, though, as you’ll learn in the next section, where we discuss tactics insurers often employ when handling claims.

Tactics That Car Insurance Companies Employ That We Fight Against

When it comes to auto insurers, you have to keep in mind that they’re for-profit companies. Insurance adjusters and the attorneys who work directly for these insurers are rewarded by their employers for being shrewd negotiators.

The more money they save their employer, in the end, the more well-compensated they likely are.

This is why one tactic you’ll often find adjusters doing in auto accident cases is trying to get victims to sign statements or waivers early on in the following instances or ways:

  • Before they have legal representation and aren’t yet familiar with the different insurance representatives and are, therefore, unsure as to their rights and the implications associated with what they say and to whom
  • An accident has recently occurred, and you haven’t yet been checked out by doctors, or it’s early on in your treatment, and doctors aren’t completely sure of your diagnosis

In situations like the ones mentioned above, adjusters tend to employ these tactics in hopes of deflecting liability off their insureds or rushing to settle because they know that, by doing so, it minimizes or completely eliminates your ability to recover compensation for your losses.

In addition to the adjusters’ attempts to get claimants to admit to things that call into question liability or devalue claims and making low-ball offers to settle cases, other bad faith tactics car insurance companies and their employees employ that result in disputes include:

  • Requesting additional documentation on the basis that they don’t already have enough to make liability determinations or to calculate your losses
  • Altogether, not performing or ineffectively conducting investigations into claims
  • Threatening or harassing claimants
  • Misrepresenting policy terms or the law
  • Wrongfully denying claims
  • Delaying in sending out a release of all claims or a settlement check
  • Changing, not renewing, or canceling policies

If you suspect insurer impropriety, be sure to reach out to a Bozeman auto insurance dispute attorney in our office to discuss your concerns. They’ll know the right follow-up questions to ask to determine if there are indeed concerns worth taking legal action on.

Options for Responding to Unfairly or Unjustly Handled Auto Insurance Claims

You can certainly follow up with adjusters and the insurance companies they work for to ask questions about their handling of claims and even if they might give it a second look; however, there’s no guarantee that they’ll act on that request.

The Commissioner of Securities & Insurance (CSI) here in our state does have a consumer advocacy hotline, reachable locally at 406-444-2040 or toll-free at 1-800-332-6148 or through their Montana Online Insurance Complaint Form that can help you get answers about insurance and your policy and result in corrective action being taken if policy terms or Montana law was violated in handling the auto insurance claims.

There are a whole host of reasons you may not get cooperation from an insurance company, and there are certain concerns that the CSI representatives mentioned above cannot provide help with when it comes to claims filed with car insurance companies.

That’s when you might want to consider reaching out to a Bozeman auto insurance dispute lawyer who can help you navigate other options for contesting the handling of your claim so you can secure the coverage and recover the compensation you’re entitled to.

A meeting with legal counsel to discuss matters like these is completely free, so use our contact form to reach out to us by email or simply call the number on the top right of your screen to speak with us by phone.

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Call us or fill out the form on the right to tell us about your potential case. An attorney will get back to you as quickly as possible.