The Adjuster’s Calling…What Do You Say?
If you were injured in an accident, whether it be a car accident or other type of accident, it’s common for the insurance adjuster to call you with questions. You’d think that you could simply talk to this person without worry, but it’s important to remember that the adjuster is not on your side. His or her job is to watch out for the insurance company’s best interests.
That means you must, in turn, watch out for your interests as well.
What is an Insurance Adjuster?
An insurance adjuster or “claims adjuster” as they’re sometimes called is the person who investigates a claim to decide if the insurance company should pay you for damages, and if so, how much the payment should be. This person may work directly for the insurance company or an independent firm hired by the insurance company.
The adjuster may call you or meet with you in person as part of the investigation into the claim. She will review information from the police report, witness statements, accident report, and your medical records. Her main goal will be to settle your case with as little hassle as possible, and in most cases, to protect the insurance company’s bottom line.
How To Talk to an Insurance Adjuster
Considering the insurance adjuster is not there for you, it’s best to take some precautions when talking to her. Remain calm and polite—she’s probably a nice person, after all. But be cautious, as if you say the wrong thing, you could end up lowering your settlement payment.
1. Don’t admit fault.
This is the number-one cardinal rule when it comes to dealing with the aftermath of an accident. Do not admit to anyone that you were at fault. If you do, you risk the adjuster using this information to deny your claim.
2. Say “no” to recorded statements.
Sometimes the adjuster will ask you for a recorded statement. He or she may assure you that the information will help your claim, but don’t be fooled. A recording can be used as evidence against you, so it’s best not to provide one. You are not required to give such a statement, and it’s generally against the law for the adjuster to record you without your permission.
Simply say that you’re not comfortable being recorded.
3. Don’t elaborate.
It’s common for an adjuster to ask you for a statement about what happened. You may speculate about this with your family and friends, musing over who was to blame or why the accident occurred, but don’t do that with the adjuster. Stick to the facts, because speculative statements could be used against you.
You can share where and when the accident occurred, what vehicle(s) was involved, the type of accident that occurred (car crash), and the identities of any witnesses. Don’t volunteer extra information, and if you’re unsure how to answer, decline to do so and tell the adjuster that you’ll discuss additional facts later. Then ask your personal injury attorney for guidance.
4. Talk carefully about your injuries.
It’s also important not to elaborate on the nature of your injuries right away. It’s common for some injuries to develop with time, such as whiplash and back pain. If you speculate too soon, you might not be able to get the compensation you need to cover all your medical expenses.
Say something general like “I hurt my back,” and that you’re not sure yet about the extent of your injuries. You’ll eventually have to complete a medical description in your demand for compensation, and you can include all of the details then.
5. Don’t be too eager to say “yes.”
An insurance adjuster may offer you a quick settlement payment soon after the accident. Some may even send you a check in the mail. These offers are usually lower than the true value of the claim and may rob you of the compensation you deserve. You may be tempted to take that first payment, but if it’s lower than it should be, it’s usually best if you reject the initial offer.