Settling an Insurance Claim After an Accident – Struggling with Guilt, Doubt and Greed

by Joe Plemon on July 14, 2010

Our normal anxieties in dealing with insurance companies are based on the concern that we won’t be sufficiently compensated.

However, not everyone fits this mold.  This post is based on an email from one of my clients (I will call her Carol) who, because she had been injured in an auto accident, is in the process of hiring an attorney to represent her in dealing with the insurance company. Although she was hospitalized, missed work and could have ongoing medical issues, Carol is struggling with the morality of “going after” the insurance company. Because of the trauma of the accident, she doesn’t clearly remember it, which creates some guilt issues. Carol is also concerned about the possible “greed” mentality many lawyers seem to have.

Here is a clip of her email:

You helped with this when we talked, but I think I’m blanking on it and churning. Will you give me perspective on the accident claim again according to biblical teaching? I’m still struggling with what God really wants of us in this financial circumstance.”

This is my reply to Carol:

I wish I had great biblical passages to share with you about insurance. The best I can come up with is Exodus 21: 12-36, a section of the bible which tells us that those who are harmed should be compensated. The gist of this passage is just that: God expects people to be compensated for harm done to them. This is why you have insurance and why the other person in the accident has insurance. If the other person was harmed, I am sure you would be glad that you had insurance so she could be compensated. Just because the shoe is on the other foot (being you are the one harmed) does not make it any less right that you should be compensated. You are concerned about how this will affect the other person. This is something you have no control over, but she SHOULD be glad that her insurance is going to take good care of you. If she isn’t, that is her problem, not yours.

The issue of how much the claim should be…again, ask yourself, “What if the other person had to go through what I have been through?” Wouldn’t you want her to receive payment for her medical care AND for lost income AND for possible future medical care? Of course you would. It is only right. I agree with your attorney. This is not about greed. It is about an injured person being compensated for the harm done.

Another thought is this: we are commanded in Romans 13:1 to be subject to the governing authorities. I am not sure about Missouri, but I know Illinois requires auto insurance (liability as a minimum). In keeping with the laws of the land and Romans 13:1, you have auto insurance. The very legal system that requires you to have insurance will also have a judge who makes a determination as to the award of the case. As long as you aren’t doing anything un-Godly to tweak the system (which you aren’t), then I would say that God is using that judge to make a proper and fair determination. In reality, the attorneys for the insurance companies might settle out of court, but the point is that God requires insurance, so trust Him to see to the details.

One more thought. You have debt and you have been harmed financially by this accident, meaning you have not been able to work as much physically or emotionally. This is not your fault and you should not feel guilty about what you can’t control. But if you were to somehow sabotage this settlement, you might be turning away money that could go toward those you owe. I know this is a stretch, but allowing the process to play itself out could help some creditors get the money owed to them. I can’t see that is a bad thing. Without the accident, you might have been able to gain enough traction to start making some major payments through your income stream. But the accident DID occur, so you don’t really know what might have happened in your career if it hadn’t. All of this is part of compensating a harmed party (back to Exodus 21).

In the end, I think you should trust the process, trust your attorney (or find one you can trust) and trust God. That is the best way I know to put it in God’s hands. When you do so, you can feel good about the outcome whether it goes very well or very poorly.

I hope this helps.

Joe

Carol’s response:

“I won’t be able to tell you how much it means to have your counsel and how thankful I am….I’m breathing easier today because you took the time to think on this for me. I’m so thankful”

Readers: have you ever struggled with guilt or the feeling of greed when negotiating an insurance settlement? How did you handle it? What would you add or change in my response to Carol?

Creative Commons License photo credit: Chasqui

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