Should You Talk to the Insurance Adjuster After Your Accident?
If you’ve been in a car accident and an insurance adjuster calls you, should you speak with them?
Automobile insurance policies require you to report any accident – even a minor one – to your insurance company. When you report the accident, a claim will be opened and an insurance adjuster will be assigned. Typically, when an accident claim is filed, the insurance companies involved will begin an investigation. This investigation will include obtaining police reports, photographs of any damage, medical records if there is a claim of injury, and statements of the parties and witnesses.
Your insurance policy likely includes a clause that says that you must cooperate with the company in the investigation of any claim or accident, or risk losing coverage. But there is no such obligation to cooperate with the company that insures other vehicles or parties to the accident. As a result, the answer to the question above may depend on whether the adjuster is calling from your own insurance company or from the company that represents the other driver involved in the accident.
What You Should Tell Your Insurance Adjuster
Although generally the job of the insurance adjuster assigned by your insurance company is to help you file and process your claim, part of the adjuster’s job is also to protect the insurance company’s interests, which may not always be the same as your interests. When the insurance adjuster will contact you to get a statement about the accident, and potentially any injuries you sustained. This statement will be used as part of the investigation for the adjuster to determine whether to accept or deny the insurance claim, and to determine who is at fault for the accident.
You should provide your insurance company with basic information about the accident, including the date, time and location of the accident, information about the vehicle(s) and any other individual(s) involved, contact information for the other driver’s insurance company, and the names of any witnesses. You may be asked to provide your driver’s license and license plate numbers, and the license plate number of the other vehicle, if you have it. If the police responded to the accident, you should also give the adjuster the police report number and the name of the police officer who responded to the scene.
Traps for the Unwary
It is likely that you will be contacted by an insurance adjuster shortly after your accident to obtain a statement from you. You may receive a call from both your insurance adjuster and an adjuster representing the other driver. It is important to confirm who you are speaking with and who they represent before you have any conversation.
Keep in mind that while your recollection of the accident itself may be better the closer it is to the accident, you also may still be experiencing the effects of the shock of the accident, which can make giving a statement difficult. The insurance adjuster may ask questions that can be misleading or confusing, which can be compounded when you are upset. In addition, it may be too soon to tell the extent of your injuries or how they might affect you in the future. Similarly, if you have not had your car inspected by a mechanic, you may not be aware of hidden damage to the vehicle.
Usually, the adjuster will ask your permission to record your statement. It is always prudent to speak with an attorney before answering any questions from an insurance adjuster or agreeing to a recorded statement, even from your own insurance company. Many adjusters are trained to ask questions in a confusing way, and to look for discrepancies in any statements you make in an attempt to discredit you later. For example, apologizing can be seen as admitting fault for the accident.
Tips for Speaking with Insurance Adjusters
Always be sure that you fully understand any question before answering. Make your answers as brief as possible and do not volunteer any additional information that the adjuster does not ask for.
Don’t exaggerate, guess or speculate; if you do not know the answer to a question, it is perfectly fine to say that you do not know.
Do not discuss details of your injuries or pain; tell the adjuster that you are receiving medical treatment. You also do not have to answer questions about your family or provide details about your job, income, schedule, or duties. Speak to a lawyer before providing any of this information to an insurance adjuster.
If an insurance adjuster offers you a quick settlement after an accident, be very wary of the offer. Consult with a qualified personal injury attorney who can tell you whether the settlement is fair or if the adjuster is trying to settle with you quickly because you are unrepresented.
If you have been in a car accident and wish to speak with an attorney, use our site to find a qualified personal injury attorney who can help.
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