Is signing an insurance release a good idea?
There is no single answer to this question because the details and circumstances of each case differ substantially.
The appropriateness of signing an insurance release depends on its contents and what you agreed to in your settlement negotiations with the adjuster. However, when you are deciding whether to sign an insurance release form, there are some tips that can help with the process.
Read it Carefully
An insurance release form should represent the personal injury settlement agreement that you negotiated with the insurance company. Read the agreement carefully and make note of any provision that you don’t completely understand. While each insurance release form differs, there is some language that is common to most forms.
- A statement that your signature is an agreement to fully “release” and/or “indemnify” the insurance company from having to make any additional payments – This language generally means that, even if you learn of additional damages later on, you will not seek additional compensation from the insurance company.
- A statement of acknowledgement that the claim at issue is the only legal claim that you have against the at-fault party and the insurance – This statement is a waiver of your rights to pursue any additional claims against the party of the insurance company. It is an agreement that the money received is enough to cover all claims, including the current one and any in the future regarding this incident.
- A statement that the payment of your claim is not an admission of guilt – The company includes this language to protect their own public image.
- A statement that the details of the release represent all agreements and promises made to you – This language is your agreement that there are no other deals or additional agreements between yourself, the at-fault party and the insurance company. Its purpose is to prevent you from later claiming that you were promised more money than what you receive.
Ask Questions and Seek Assistance
If you are unclear or confused about any section of the insurance release, ask questions or seek assistance from a legal professional. If the insurance company sent a check along with the release, do not sign or endorse the check. There is likely language within the release stating that your signature constitutes agreement with the release. Once you sign it, there is no going back. If you are representing yourself, don’t hesitate to call the insurance adjuster and ask questions. If he doesn’t give satisfactory answers, ask to speak with a supervisor. If you still don’t receive an adequate explanation, refuse to sign the release. You are under no obligation to sign, especially if you do not understand it completely.
For detailed and comprehensive advice about signing an insurance release, contact an attorney. A personal injury lawyer can review the release for you and compare it to the provisions of your settlement negotiations. She can also speak directly with the insurance adjuster about any discrepancies or concerns. Having an attorney can provide you with an added sense of security when signing the insurance release.