It is normal to feel confused, stressed or overwhelmed after a car accident. It is critical, however, to realize that what you say after a crash can make a major difference to your claim. Saying the wrong thing to an insurance company can significantly decrease or even eliminate the financial compensation that you are offered for your medical bills and property repairs. Learn what to say and what not to say to an insurance claims adjuster to protect your rights.
What Are Insurance Claims Adjusters? What Are Their Goals?
An insurance claims adjuster is a person assigned to assess a claim by an insurance company. This person might work for the insurance company or have been hired from a third-party company. The claims adjuster is not on your side. The adjuster has been hired to try to save the insurance company money by minimizing client payouts. This is important to know when dealing with the claims adjuster or other representatives from the insurance company – they do not have your best interests in mind.
What to Say When Speaking to a Claims Adjuster After a Car Accident
You may receive a phone call from an insurance claims adjuster the day of or day after your car accident. Insurance adjusters often try to contact victims early, before they fully understand what happened and how the crash will impact them in the future (e.g., the severity of their injuries and the cost of necessary medical care). This is a tactic often used to get the claimant to say something early on that could hurt his or her ability to recover compensation.
Use the following tips when talking to a claims adjuster:
- Prepare ahead of time by collecting copies of your police report and writing down everything you can remember about the accident.
- Ask for the adjuster’s name, phone number and the name of the insurance company at the beginning of your conversation.
- Proceed with caution. Give short and simple responses.
- Only answers the questions asked; do not offer any additional information.
- Stick to the truth. Do not embellish or speculate.
- If you think saying something might incriminate you, don’t say it.
- If you don’t know the answer to a question, don’t guess – simply say you don’t know.
- If you don’t wish to answer a question, say this. You are not obligated to tell the adjuster anything that you don’t want to.
- Mention that you plan on hiring an attorney.
Record your conversation with the adjuster or take notes immediately afterward. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to the insurance claims adjuster on your own or don’t want to deal with the stress of these conversations after a car accident, hire a car accident lawyer to do so for you. Having a lawyer represent you during negotiations with an insurance company can guarantee that your rights are protected.
What Not to Say to an Adjuster
The adjuster will most likely be friendly and polite during your conversation – a tactic to get you to trust them. Be polite, but firm. Always put yourself and your legal rights first. Never say any of the following things, as it could hurt your right to recover compensation:
- “The car accident was my fault,” or, “I’m sorry.”
- “I think I’m partially to blame.”
- “I wasn’t wearing a seat belt.”
- “I feel fine,” or, “I’m doing well.”
- “I don’t think I have any injuries.”
- “Yes, you can record me,” or, “Yes, I’ll give a recorded statement.”
- “You have my permission to access my medical records.”
It is also important not to accept the very first settlement offer. There is a high likelihood that the offer is less than you deserve. Instead, hire a personal injury attorney to help you negotiate a fair settlement with the insurance provider on your behalf. An attorney can help you with every stage of the insurance claims process, from beginning to end.