Exercise Caution When Speaking With Insurance Adjusters
There are two types of insurance adjusters that most people who are involved in automobile accidents will encounter after a collision: The ones who are against you, and the ones who are really, really, really against you. But most importantly, you will never deal with an insurance adjuster who is for you or on your side following a collision. Why is this? Because adjusters, whether hired by your own insurance carrier, or the insurance carrier for the other driver, both have a goal, and that goal is to serve their employers and save them money. Let’s examine these two types of adjusters.
Your Own Insurance Carriers’ Adjuster
These are the adjusters who are merely against you. You have to report an accident to your own insurance carrier, so you will have to deal with them. They will always be pleasant, and they may seem to be on your side, but be cautious. For example, if asked, “how are you today?” simply reporting, “fine” or “pretty good,” is a mistake if the truth is that you aren’t feeling all that well and you intend to see your doctor. Responses like, “I am good” will get noted in the adjusters’ file. Later, if you need to make a claim for medical payments benefits, or uninsured or underinsured motorist benefits, an ill-advised answer to a seemingly innocuous question can hamper your attorney in his or her effort to obtain a fair settlement for you. Nonetheless, most insurance policies require that you cooperate with your own carrier and their adjusters, so you must respond and you must cooperate. The caution that is required is that you be accurate and mindful that what you say is being noted. So, if you are hurt, say so. Don’t just say, “I’m fine, how are you?”
The Other Driver’s Insurance Carrier
These are the ones who are really, really, really against you. More often than not, they too will be pleasant. They will want to get “your statement” as to how the accident happened. They will want to know who is at fault, who was hurt, and who wasn’t. The important thing to remember is to politely decline to comply with these requests for information. Simply give them the name and number of your attorney. If you don’t have an attorney, then tell them you intend to contact one and then hang up. Under no circumstances should you give them statements about what happened, or sign authorizations for them to speak with your doctor, or your employer, etc., without first considering the situation carefully. The adjuster for the other drivers’ insurance carrier can be expected to do everything in his or her power to get you to sign a release and settle your claim for a minimal amount. If they cannot do that, they can be expected to do everything in their power to document that you “feel fine” or to learn facts that would suggest that you were at fault for the collision as opposed to their driver. Any information you give them, such as whether you had your seatbelt on, were listening to your radio, had a cell phone, were eating a hamburger, etc., will get documented in their file and will be used against you at a later date. You have no obligation whatsoever to cooperate with these types of adjusters and ought to consider them as your adversary. Anything you say or do can and will be used against you if your injuries prove to be substantial and a lawsuit must be filed.
Since the adjusters for the insurance carrier for the other driver do better speaking to people who do not know their rights, frequently, adjusters will hint that if you retain a lawyer, it will make it more difficult to settle a claim with them. This is rarely, if ever, true and is often simply used as a way to entice you to continue to speak. Having a lawyer may make it more difficult for the adjuster to convince you to take a lower number to settle your case, but it will not impact a fair resolution of your claim. Additionally, the adjuster may hint that if you do not provide them the information they want and decide to go to see a lawyer, they will force your case to trial and will not settle it. This again is a tactic to simply try to get you to give the information they desire. There is only one reason they would like to continue to deal with a person who has not had legal advice, and that reason is that the person without an advisor is at a disadvantage.