Auto insurance companies deny the claims of Chicago cyclists all the time, often for nonsensical reasons. This isn’t surprising—the ability to deny claims is one of the biggest contributors to an insurance company’s bottom line. While their methods are morally questionable, at the end of the day, they are effective as hell. Take a look at this claim denial letter from a large insurance company:
If you’re too busy (or lazy) to read it, they are refusing to pay a one of my client’s claims. The reason? A biker “failed to maintain a proper lookout and made an improper lane change,” which ultimately caused the collision.
Their conclusion was based on… well, the letter doesn’t really explain, other than a vague reference to “all the facts available.”
They were likely just regurgitating the driver’s story. He said it happened, so they ran with it. Just about any reason to deny a claim is seemingly good enough, and when a driver denies fault, it’s more than enough.
So here’s what really happened: a guy was biking to work on the exact same route he had been taking 5 days a week for a year. He was riding his bike on the right side of the road before he started to (properly) make his way to the left turn lane at a three-way intersection so that he could hang a louie and get to work. He had just slowed to a stop in the left turn lane when he was struck directly from behind. It was clearly the driver’s fault.
After they denied the claim, we filed a lawsuit against the driver. Once we got our chance to present the facts, the lawyers at the insurance company realized that they had rushed their initial judgment (wink, wink), and they ended up settling with us so that the hero of our story could pay his medical bills without worry.
The lesson here is simple: insurance companies deny claims even when they clearly shouldn’t. All hope is not lost, however. Having a good lawyer on your side can often help insurance adjusters find their conscious, and give you fair compensation.