After an accident, you may receive a phone call from an insurance adjuster from your insurance, the other person's insurance, or both. It's important that you know how to handle these calls, or you might accidentally provide the insurance company with information they can use against you when determining your claim.
An insurance, or claims, adjuster is the person at an insurance company who's in charge of determining how much the company needs to pay after an accident. One part of their job is to make sure that the insurance company doesn't overpay, or pay more than the policy allows.
Many adjusters are very nice people with good intentions. However, it's important to remember that they work for the insurance company, not for you. Their job isn't to make sure that you get a fair settlement. It's to make sure that the company doesn't pay any more than they're required to.
The insurance company may be looking for a way to pay as little as they can for the accident. Providing too much information to the adjuster could give them that opportunity.
This isn't only limited to the other driver's insurance. Your own insurance company doesn't have any desire to overpay, but they probably are interested in keeping you as a customer. However, you may be required by your policy to provide your own insurance with a certain amount of information. This is one of those instances where it's better to speak with your lawyer than to say too much.
You should always be polite to adjusters. Don't treat them like the enemy; in most cases, they're just doing their job. That being said, you should not feel obligated to provide them with all the information they're asking for.
You're required to give them your name, address, and phone number. If the adjuster is from your insurance company, you might be responsible for providing additional information, but, as mentioned above, check with your lawyer first.
Many adjusters will try to engage you in small talk about the day of the accident (often under the guise of getting some background information). Provide them with only the basics: where and when the accident took place, what type of accident it was, and the vehicles involved.
Do not speak in absolutes. If they:
Your goal at this point is to not provide them with any new information that could later be used against you in court. The adjuster might be frustrated about this response, but remember that they're not on your side. You need to make sure to protect yourself.
Your adjuster may ask to record the conversation. Your answer to this should always be no. There is no benefit to having this conversation recorded, and many people tense up and forget things when they're aware they're being recorded. In addition, if you wind up needing to go to court, this conversation can be admitted to evidence and potentially used against you.
Under no circumstances should you admit fault to the insurance adjuster. You don't have all the information about what caused the accident, so making such a statement is speculation on your part at this time. The adjust may present it that they are "just trying to figure out what happened," but remember the adjuster is not an impartial party. They work for a company that has a financial stake in finding you responsible for the accident. They're anything but impartial.
Don't discuss your injuries, either. Immediately after the accident, you do not know the extent of them. If you note that you're bruised, but later develop back pain stemming from the accident, the insurance company could use your words against you to say that you didn't have any back pain after the accident, so your back pain must have been caused by something else.
Make sure that you take thorough notes. Ask the adjuster how to spell their name so you know that you have it written down correctly. Be as detailed as possible; if you're not able to write while you're on the call, make sure to make notes immediately afterward, while the conversation is still fresh in your mind.
Insurance adjusters may not be on your side, but your lawyer is. You can ask that your lawyer be present during a call with an adjuster. Your attorney will know what questions you're legally required to answer and may be able to help you from revealing unnecessary information that could later damage your case.
Insurance adjusters may begin calling you soon after the accident, so the sooner you find an attorney you trust, the better the chances that your lawyer will be able to help. If you need a personal injury lawyer, you can have your case evaluated online in just three minutes with injury.com. Get started today, and make sure you have a skilled professional on your team!