This page gives both lawyers and accident victims a better idea of what to expect when dealing with State Farm. This insurance company will fight to pay out as little for your claim as possible. But you can win your claim against State Farm if you know their weak spots and how to beat them and get the best possible settlement (or verdict) for your insurance claim.
About State Farm Accident Claims
State Farm is the largest auto insurance company in the country, boasting 17% of the market share. Founded in 1922, it has 19,000 agents and 83 million car, fire, life, and health policies across the United States and Canada. State Farm is the second largest auto insurance carrier in Maryland (behind GEICO). Our Maryland auto accident attorneys have handled thousands of claims with State Farm throughout the state. State Farm is one of the insurance carriers that we deal with most often and we have a developed a long track record of success against them.
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State Farm is not a model defendant by any stretch. It is the most likely insurance company in Maryland to force a case to go to trial. Our primary complaint with State Farm is that it does not offer fair settlement values to resolve claims without filing lawsuits.
Still, there are a few nice things about dealing with this insurer. In first party uninsured and underinsured motorist cases, it will write a check for the last settlement offer it makes before trial. It is also quick to pay excess verdicts that are over its policy limits if its insured is sued.
Finally, the company's claim process is fairly efficient, at least in Maryland and the District of Columbia. It will respond quickly to requests for the status of demand packages and will typically generate a settlement offer faster than most other insurance companies.State Farm’s First Settlement Offer
It is hard to make blanket generalizations on dealing with State Farm for settlement. Certainly, if you are dealing with State Farm Team 21 or State Farm Team 22, the two auto claims units in Maryland that deal with less severe injury cases, you are not very likely to receive a settlement offer that approximates the fair value of your injury claim. In one recent trial, we were able to win our client a verdict that was 35 times State Farm’s settlement offer.
Other traffic accident claims with State Farm vary more from adjuster to adjuster. Some adjusters are eager to try to settle accident claims for a fair value. Others are more difficult, and you will need to file a lawsuit to get a reasonable settlement or verdict.
Settlement offers from State Farm in Maryland cases almost invariably increase—often more than doubling or tripling—as litigation proceeds. There are some reasons our lawyers believe this occurs. We think State Farm’s in-house lawyers–with exceptions—tend to be more reasonable than its insurance adjusters.
That enhanced reasonableness stems in part from having to try the case to a jury as opposed to simply sitting in an office. Additionally, the value of cases invariably rises when the insurance company realizes that the injury victim is not going to accept the offer just to avoid a lawsuit.
The value of these claims also increases as the trial date gets closer because, like every insurance company, State Farm takes a more critical look at their arguments and the real quality of the claim. The lawyer handling the case give more direct legal advice to the claims adjuster about the risk of trial. Expect more pragmatism, too. It is not uncommon over the course of litigation for this carrier to admit their driver’s responsibility after previously denying fault.
Below are examples of first settlement offers along with the cost of the client's medical bills. All are taken from Miller & Zois cases. This data gives you some insight on how much money you might get if you are looking to settle your case quickly. Essentially, you are going to have a hard time getting a fair value without suing State Farm first. Often, the offer is not much more than the victim's medical expenses, leaving nothing for the worst harm in the case: pain and suffering.
|First Offer||Medical Bills|
State Farm, like most insurance companies, uses a computer system called TEACH to determine the money damages of personal injury accident claims. This claims software is similar to Allstate's claim adjustment software, Colossus. That program regularly produces settlement value ranges that are far below the fair value of claims.
This software evaluates an injury victim’s medical records then decides how much treatment it thinks was necessary for their accident and the fair value of that treatment. On top of this, it adds any past or future wage loss, as well as its opinion of the value of the victim’s pain and suffering. This insurance company, in our opinion, usually undervalues all of these categories.
You almost invariably need to file a lawsuit to recover future lost wages or medical bills from this insurance carrier. This is partly due to the company's unwillingness to pay a fair value for the claim, but there is a practical reason, too: State Farm wants to see the evidence more clearly, which happens in the “discovery” period after a lawsuit is filed.
Insurance companies also use the trial records of the lawyers who are bringing the claim as a value driver. This is only true, however, for some adjusters.
In the post-COVID-19 era, expect State Farm to get a lot worse. Our lawyer are hearing that new policy has been announced that State Farm will be reducing MVA bills based on the Medicare payment schedule/rate. So if Johns Hopkins says you owe them $20,000 but Medicare only pays $10,000 for the same treatment, you will only get $10,000 in your offer for that treatment.
This is insane and it going to lead to even more lawsuits. Reportedly, when they announced this news to the claims adjusters during the coronavirus pandemic, State Farm acknowledged that they know that this is going to cause increased litigation.
Most State Farm lawsuits in Maryland are defended by two law firms: The Law Offices of Timothy S. Smith & Associates in Greenbelt and H. Barritt Peterson, Jr. & Associates in Towson. Though their names suggest that they are private counsel, all of the lawyers in these firms State Farm employees. These are good, reasonable lawyers, but they will fight plaintiffs' lawsuits vigorously to defend the company's interests. State Farm sends larger cases out to private lawyers.
State Farm Frequently Asked Questions
One State Farm Drive
P.O. Box 953
Frederick, Maryland 21705-0953
10825 Reisterstown Road
Owings Mills, Maryland 21117
9525 Harford Road
Baltimore, Maryland 21234
Wilmington Operations Center
3540 Old Capital Trail
P. O. Box 5070
Wilmington, Delaware 19808
20 East Timonium Road, Suite 101
Timonium, Maryland 21093-3457
If you get assigned to a "team" your claim is not being taken seriously. In Maryland, State Farm has Team 21 and Team 22. Less experienced adjusters handle these claims. These adjusters are given limited authority beyond making a settlement offer that is far south of the real value of a case. When you file suit in these cases, you get another adjuster, and usually a significantly higher offer.
Many adjusters do not try to justify or explain their offers at all. State Farm will deny liability or reduce the value of accident claims using the following scapegoats:
Chris Paul is right. State Farm agents are efficient. Their insurance adjusters are, too. They move faster than most. You can expect an offer within 30-45 days of sending in a complete demand package, sometimes sooner.
Filing suit often increases their settlement offer. This insurer is far more willing to spend legal costs in civil discovery by taking depositions before increasing their offer substantially. But our attorneys frequently get a phone call with a last minute offer just before trial that are far higher than their original valuations. Still, State Farm is the most likely insurance company to go to trial even though it risks receiving a verdict that far exceeds the value of an insurance policy.
How bold this carrier will be depends on what the sticking point in the case is. If the dispute is over liability—who caused the accident—this insurer will often stick to its guns. If the dispute is over how much money the agreed upon injuries are worth, this company will rarely allow the case to go to trial, at least in Maryland.
State Farm threatens to go to trial so that attorneys will take a low settlement. Many attorneys only experienced in settling cases will be unwilling to go to trial. This strategy also works because many victims try to handle their claims themselves, without a personal injury attorney.
They might. What will happen in an excess verdict situation depends on the facts of that particular case. Here in Maryland, State Farm usually does stand behind its insured if a verdict exceeds their policy limits.
If you file suit against State Farm in an underinsured/uninsured motorist case in Maryland, they will often send you a check for the last offer they made, which operates as a set-off for any verdict you get against them. Are they a "good neighbor" in terms of evaluating an uninsured motorist claim? They are not.
You always need counsel in any serious injury case. There is too much at stake, and the range of the values is just too great not to have an advocate fighting for you. In smaller cases you might not need a lawyer, depending on the case. But with this insurance company, you are probably always better off hiring a lawyer if you want to maximize the value of your case.
You can also contact State Farm using their mobile app which is easy enough to download and a good way to get the claims status on property damage claims. You can also call 1-800-SF-CLAIMS.
The below verdicts and settlements are sourced from our law firm and others around in the country. We provide these examples to better inform you about what to expect from your case. However, even if your case looks like one of these cases, the outcome will not necessarily be the same. There is too much additional information that is not in these summaries that could be the critical ingredient in the outcome.
If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident and the at-fault driver is insured by State Farm, or if you are filing an uninsured motorist claim against this insurance carrier and you have a question about your claim, call us at 800-553-8082 or go online for a free case evaluation.