After the shock of a car wreck, it can be hard to know exactly what happened. Naturally, gathering evidence isn’t at the top of your priorities — you just want to make sure everyone is safe. But just a couple days after a car accident, you’ll get a call from an insurance claims adjuster. You need to be very careful what you say — you’d be surprised what the insurance company can hold against you. Knowing what to expect when the other party’s insurance adjuster calls is the best way to prepare.
Don’t forget that you have every right to a car wreck lawyer, and read on below for some tips.
1. Before you talk to an insurance adjuster, understand their role.
An insurance adjuster has three main priorities:
Prevent insurance fraud — make sure you’re not outright lying.
Settle claims for a low amount.
Settle claims quickly.
Often, insurance adjusters deal with 100 claims per month. They have a lot on their plate, and they don’t necessarily have specialized medical or legal training. When you and your lawyer demonstrate advanced knowledge of your case — backed up by evidence— you already have a leg up.
When a claims adjuster calls, immediately find out who you’re speaking to, and who they represent. After that, keep the conversation concise.
2. Avoid giving lots of details about the accident or your material damages.
It’s natural that you’re shocked from the accident. Unfortunately, insurance adjusters are often playing off this shock. Do not make guesses about what happened, and never admit partial liability. Maybe a driver struck your car while they were texting — but you forgot to put your signal on. Before you mention that you did something wrong, wait to speak to your lawyer, because evidence might later reveal other variables. And when the insurance adjuster asks you about damages to your vehicle, get a quote from your own auto-repair shop, not the shop they suggest.
3. Avoid giving a lot of details about the injury.
Car accidents are very frightening. At the end of the day, you feel grateful to still be living and breathing. Combined with adrenaline, this feeling can make your injuries seem less consequential. But often, a report comes back, stating your injury is more serious than you originally thought. Waiting for a proper medical diagnosis pays off. An insurance adjuster will take it far more seriously than a self-diagnosis.
4. Do not sign anything or give a recorded statement.
You’re still recovering from the shock of your car accident. When asked for a recorded statement, you might apologize or exaggerate. You might omit important details. An insurance adjuster might ask for access to your medical files, and this might seem harmless. However, with access to files from years ago, an insurance adjuster might try to argue that your conditions were pre-existing. So instead, send a statement in writing with your lawyer, and attach all necessary evidence. You can plan out exactly what to say.
5. Don’t settle on the first offer.
Most insurance adjusters have allocated a specific amount of money for your claim. They will purposefully offer you a lower offer than what is allocated — and hope you accept it. A quick, low-stress settlement might seem like a good deal. But you should absolutely negotiate — even if an offer seems good — because negotiation will get you more money. So, gather compelling evidence and make a counteroffer. Remember, the insurance adjuster wants to settle the claim, too.
With all that in mind…
Above all, don’t exaggerate or apologize. Keep your first conversation with the insurance adjuster concise until the facts are straight. Insurance adjusters are paid to keep costs down — so naturally, they’ll have some tricks up their sleeves.
Reach out to a lawyer if you have questions. A lawyer who specializes in car accidents can be at your side the whole way through these tough negotiations.