Beware of the ‘Swoop & Settle’ Insurance Tactic after a Car Accident
The term “swoop and settle” refers to a tactic used by insurance companies to pressure a car accident victim into verbally agreeing to an inadequate settlement offer over the phone, before they’ve had a chance to fully assess the extent of their injuries and/or damages.
In Texas’ latest legislative session, lawmakers tried (but ultimately failed again) to pass a law prohibiting the controversial “swoop and settle” practice used by unscrupulous auto insurance companies. Texas’ failure to act on this issue is concerning, as it’s a serious consumer protection issue.
The practice typically involves an insurance adjuster “swooping in” shortly after an accident (either by phone or in person at the hospital), and pressing the victim to agree to a quick settlement. All the victim has to do is say the word “yes,” and (thanks to Gilbert v. Fitz), they’ve now waived their right to pursue further action against the at-fault driver or the insurance company.
While insurance companies may play this off as a proactive attempt to resolve claims quickly when liability is uncontested, its true intent is to save the insurance company money by taking advantage of victims while in a vulnerable state. Most people do not realize the full extent of their injuries until days, weeks, or even months after an accident. What if that back pain only gets worse and worse? What if that sprained wrist turns into a permanent disability that threatens your career and future earnings?
What’s particularly shady about the swoop & settle tactic is that these verbal agreements are often obtained through the use of scare tactics or time-sensitive ultimatums. For many victims who are suddenly facing the loss of their car, medical expenses, and even time away from work, it can be hard to turn down a guaranteed check — especially when you’re told “it’s the best offer you’re going to get,” and that you have to make a decision right now.
Know Your Rights When it Comes to Your Accident Claim
As a personal injury attorney, I highly advise against entertaining anything that even sounds like a settlement offer without first seeking legal advice, and especially without knowing the full extent (including the expected future costs) of your injuries and related losses.
The insurance company may try to dictate the process or pressure you into making quick decisions, but this is exactly why law firms like ours exist. We’re here to look out for your best interests, to protect your legal rights throughout the claims process, and to negotiate on your behalf in order to ensure that you receive what’s rightfully owed to you.