Getting into an auto accident is an experience that nobody wants to go through. You not only have to deal with the damages to your property and health, but your phone will also be ringing continuously. One call that you should expect to receive after an accident is from an insurance claims adjuster.
Most likely, the adjuster works for the other party’s insurance company. They are not on your side, and it’s essential to know exactly what and what not to say. Ideally, you will have already retained a personal injury lawyer to represent your case. If so, you can refer the adjuster to whomever is representing you.
If you are not working with an attorney yet, and you insist on dealing with the insurance claims adjuster on your own, here are some guidelines that you should follow.What you say can make all the difference after your accident
You should not see all insurance claims adjusters in a negative light. Their job is to determine the company’s liability, and they work for demanding employers to ensure they aren’t wasting money. However, it is always necessary to proceed with caution if you receive a call from an adjuster. Since they think in dollars and cents, you want to make sure you don’t say anything that will hurt your chances of receiving fair compensation.
You cannot assume that the information you are giving is harmless. An adjuster has been trained to take information from you and will try to ask tricky questions to get information favorable to the insurance company.
To make sure that you are not giving incriminating details, speak with an accident attorney as soon as possible.Inform the adjuster that you intend to limit correspondence
Some insurance claims adjusters will call a few times and then call it a day. Others call continuously, in the hopes that they will be able to get information from you over time. You have the right to tell an adjuster that you do not intend to take more than one or two calls.
It’s important to limit the number of calls because the more you speak with an adjuster, the more information they get from you. Over several calls, they can piece together separate, innocent facts into a picture that favors them more than you.Ask for the adjuster’s information
You are entitled to know with whom you are speaking. The adjuster should give you their phone number as well as the name of the insurance company that hired them. Jot down this information before you start the conversation. By doing so, you are giving a message that you are detail-oriented and aware of what is happening.Know what information you can give out
You do not need to give the adjuster any details, and there is information that you can provide that does not harm your prospects. For example, you can say what day and time the accident happened, where it happened, and who was with you. You should also give the adjuster the name and contact information of the other party.
Anything other than the most basic information should not be shared with an adjuster. He or she does not have to know about your income or the nature of your job. Don’t tell them your opinion of the other party. You should not tell the adjuster what you think happened; only give them the facts.Mention that you do not wish to be recorded
One way that insurance claim adjusters approach victims is by asking for a recorded statement. They usually claim that this will help protect you later on, but that’s not always true. Never agree to be recorded and know that you are under no legal obligation to do so.
You are also not obliged to give a full statement over the phone. Always be wary of conversations that the adjuster will try to have. Work with an attorney before providing a statement to see what you should include.Be polite yet firm
After an accident, many people are visibly shaken and shocked. If you receive a call from an adjuster soon after your accident and you are still processing your thoughts, do not answer. Your mind will not be sharp, and you may accidentally say something that can be seen as self-incriminating, even if it is not true.
When you are ready to talk, always be polite and never lose your temper. Regardless of who is at fault, maintain your composure and never verbally attack the adjuster.
Being polite does not mean you should apologize. In fact, never say that you are sorry or feel bad. Politely decline to give that information and keep the conversation limited.Mention that you have or will hire an attorney
One way to be safe when talking to an insurance claims adjuster is to mention that you have or intend to hire a personal injury attorney. In the meantime, you can say that the attorney will be sending the insurance company a demand letter after you have received a report from your doctor.What not to say when speaking to an insurance claims adjuster
Some information should never be given to an insurance claims adjuster, no matter how much they insist it should. Since you are now aware that the adjuster is not working with your best interests in mind, refraining from saying the following can help maximize your chances of being compensated fairly:
- Don’t apologize or admit guilt: Although this seems like common sense, many people are used to apologizing out of habit. If you do say I’m sorry, this can be seen as an admission of guilt.
- Don’t give your opinion of the accident: Even if the fault lies 100% with the other party, giving your opinion can be interpreted in different ways from a legal standpoint. This also applies if you are the at-fault party. Do not say that you think you may be the cause; say nothing at all when it comes to your opinion.
- Don’t take the first settlement offered to you: Before you agree to any settlement, always mention that you must speak to your attorney first. Your attorney will review the details of the case and compare it against other similar cases. Then, he or she will advise you as to whether the amount being offered to you is fair or if you can do better.
- Do not give information about your injuries: Insurance claims adjusters want to know the extent of your injuries. The more severe they are, the more likely the insurance company will pay. Making your injuries seem minor is their job, and it is a mistake to say that you are “fine.” You can tell the adjuster that you and your lawyer will be sending a letter to the insurance company soon that details your statement.
Always remember that as a victim of an accident, your health and mental well-being come first. If you are not prepared to talk to an adjuster or any person regarding the accident initially, wait until you are feeling better. When you are stressed and angry, you may say things that you will regret later.
Do not let an accident and aggressive insurance claims adjusters exhaust you mentally. It may be tempting to make an angry statement, but this will not serve you well in the long run. Insurance companies have several strategies that they use to decrease their liability. Their concern is the bottom line, and not the victim’s physical or mental health.Hire a personal injury attorney
Adjusters are aware of your psychological state after an accident and try to get the information from you when you are at your most vulnerable. For this reason, you need to hire an attorney as soon as possible after an accident. A lawyer can handle most of the process so that you can rest.
When you hire a personal injury attorney, you will be better prepared to answer questions related to the accident. What’s more, the attorney works in your best interests and is familiar with the legal jargon and the tactics that insurance companies use to overwhelm and intimidate victims.
If you or a loved one has suffered damages as a result of an auto accident, do not settle for less than what you deserve. Keep your conversation with the adjuster short and determine a strategy with your attorney that will protect you.