Dealing with insurance companies is a task nobody wants, ever. Unfortunately, after a car accident the frustrating experience of talking to an insurance adjuster is virtually certain. According to Esurance, 77% of all drivers have been in at least one car accident. Inevitably, almost all of us will file an auto accident claim at some point in our life.
After reporting a claim, you will eventually speak with an insurance claims adjuster to evaluate your claim. Part of that evaluation involves looking for reasons to deny or devalue your claim. You may even speak with adjusters for your insurance and the other driver’s insurance.
Speaking with an insurance claims adjuster can be an uncomfortable and sometimes hostile experience. The insurance company does not want to pay on your claim. The adjuster’s job is to evaluate or “adjust” the claim to reduce the insurance company’s financial responsibility under the policy. The information obtained by the adjuster will determine the claim evaluation. What you say and how you say it can have a big impact on the outcome of your claim.
How to talk to a claims adjuster
When talking to an adjuster by phone or email, it is important to be cautious about what you say and how you say it. Insurance adjusters spend all day, every day collecting information and evaluating claims. Their experience helps them look for information that may help reduce the value of your claim or deny it entirely.
Ideally, you should hire an experienced Denver car accident attorney shortly after an auto accident. Car accident attorneys handle most or all contact with the insurance company. That takes the pressure off of you to protect your claim so you can focus on getting your life back in order. If you have to speak with the adjuster, your attorney will prepare you and participate in the discussion.
Don't assume fault for the auto accident
One of the first things an insurance company does with a claim is investigate liability for the collision. Who is responsible for the car wreck determines which insurance company must pay for the property damage and bodily injuries. It is in the interests of each insurance company to point the finger at somebody else.
When talking to a claims adjuster, never say anything that states or implies fault on your part. Even saying, “I’m sorry” can be taken out of context to blame you for the wreck.
Less is more
Insurance adjusters want to get you talking because the more you say the more likely you will give them something useful to hurt your claim. They may ask open-ended questions and let you talk as long as you want. Adjusters also may stay silent to make it awkward to encourage you to resume talking and say something just to fill the void.
If it is necessary to answer questions, answer those questions directly and factually. Guesses, opinions and feelings about the car accident should stay your private thoughts. If the adjuster leaves silence in a discussion, let the silence hang.
Don't downplay your injuries
Hopefully by the time you speak with an adjuster you feel better than immediately after the wreck. Do not tell the adjuster your opinion about how you feel. Explain factually the pain and other symptoms following the accident. Unless you are a trained medical professional, you do not have sufficient knowledge or expertise of the extent or type of injuries. Let your doctors be the medical experts on your injuries.
Do not agree to provide a recorded statement or signed statement
Often insurance adjusters will try to obtain a recorded statement by phone or summarize what they think you told them and ask you to sign their statement. Do not agree to either of these without speaking with your Denver personal injury attorney first. In most situations you have no legal duty to provide a recorded statement. Your attorney will tell you if a recorded statement is necessary.
Insurance companies use these recorded or signed statements to lock you in to whatever they got you to tell them. You might have minor details wrong, downplay your injuries, or imply fault on your part. Once the insurance company has that statement, they will absolutely use it to your detriment.
Don't agree to send a demand letter or settle your case without talking to an experienced personal injury attorney
Another tool adjusters use to devalue your insurance claim is to settle your case as quickly as possible and convince you not to hire an attorney. Insurance companies know it is highly likely they can settle your claim for substantially less without an attorney. By settling your case quickly, they can settle before you discover the extent of your injuries and your full medical bills. Once you settle your case, you’re stuck with the settlement.
Hiring an experienced personal injury attorney with Front Range Injury Attorneys prevents adjusters from taking advantage of you. Your attorney will advise you of the appropriate time to send a demand letter and negotiate settlement.