How To Deal With The Insurance Adjuster After You Have Been Injured in a Car Wreck
Shortly after you are injured in a car wreck or fall, you are likely to get a call from the at fault party’s insurance adjuster. You may have questions about how you should handle this call or whether you should talk with the adjuster at all. Here are some tips for speaking with an insurance adjuster:
Why are they calling?
The adjuster is calling to get as much information from you as you will give them. While there are legitimate reasons for the insurance adjuster to call you (such as to give you the claim number or the adjuster’s contact information), the real reason they are calling is to try and get information from you that they can use against you later.
What will the adjuster ask for?
Often the adjuster will ask for all of your personal information including your social security number. If you are married, they will often ask for your spouse’s name and may even ask for your spouse’s social security number. The adjuster will try his/her best to get you to talk about your injuries and any medical treatment you have received. The adjuster may try to pressure you into giving them the information they ask for by telling you it is “required” or that they will “close your file” if you don’t give it to them. Don’t let that worry you. These are simply scare tactics that insurance adjusters use to try to get what they want.
Are you required to give them the information they ask for?
No. You are not required to give them your social security number or any information about your spouse. You are also not required to give them a recorded statement or discuss your injuries and treatment.
Why shouldn’t I give them the information they ask for?
Giving the insurance adjuster this information won’t do you any good. You have to keep in mind that the insurance company is going to try to pay you as little as possible on your claim. The adjuster is not looking for information that will help you; she is only interested in getting information that will be useful to the insurance company when it comes time to settle your claim.
You should never discuss your injuries and treatment with the adjuster until you have had a chance to determine the extent of your injuries. Even if you think that your injuries are minor and will go away quickly, it is best to take some time to make sure of this before talking to the adjuster about your injuries. It often takes weeks or even months to determine the full extent of the injuries following a wreck. In most cases injuries get better with time, but sometimes they get worse. If you allow the insurance company to rush you into a settlement, the insurance company will not have to pay for any additional treatment or time you miss from work because your injuries got worse.
The insurance adjuster seems eager to settle, so why shouldn’t I talk to them?
The insurance adjuster is eager to settle because she knows that the faster she settles your claim, the less she has to pay you. It is common for insurance adjusters to try to pressure people into a settlement as soon after the wreck as possible. The adjuster knows that if she can rush you into a settlement, the insurance company will not have to pay anything if your injuries get worse and require additional treatment.
The wreck wasn’t my fault so why shouldn’t I give the adjuster a recorded statement?
The reason that the insurance company wants to take a recorded statement is that they want to get you to commit to the details of the wreck and your injuries before you have had a chance to fully understand what those details are. The adjuster is hoping that getting this statement early will give them something to use against you later.
What can I say to the adjuster?
If your vehicle was damaged, it is ok to talk with the adjuster about your property damage claim. You can talk with the adjuster about getting a rental car and getting your car repaired. The property damage claim is separate from any injury claim, so you do not have to give the adjuster any information about your injuries in order for him/her to be able to address your property damage claim.
How do I keep the adjuster to those topics?
The easiest way is to tell the adjuster that you do not yet know the full extent of your injuries so you can’t talk about that, but you would be happy to discuss your property damage claim.
Should I fill out the forms the adjuster sent me?
The short answer is no. Adjusters will often send forms that will authorize them to get your medical records. The adjuster will most likely tell you that this is to make sure they can get all the records and bills for your treatment so that there won’t be any delays in them making payment. They may even tell you that they will “take care” of the bills they receive.
The problem with these authorizations is that they are not limited to the medical records and bills from your injury. If you sign the authorization, the insurance company will have access to all of your past medical records. Once the insurance company gets those records, they will scour them looking for anything they can use to reduce the amount they pay for your injury.
Why does any of this matter?
While it may seem obvious, it is important to remember that insurance adjusters work for the insurance company. The adjuster is looking out for the insurance company’s best interests. While the adjuster that contacts you may seem friendly and helpful, you should keep in mind that she is trying to get information that the insurance company can use against you when it comes time to settle your claim.
The insurance company will try to use any information you give them to keep the amount they pay you for your claim low. Insurance adjusters have been trained to ask questions in a way that gets the answer that is most beneficial to them. The insurance adjuster is counting on the fact that people are often faced with uncertainty and confusion after an injury. The adjuster hopes to use this to benefit the insurance company by pushing you into a quick settlement.
If you have been injured, don’t let the insurance company take advantage of you by rushing you into a settlement. Give us a call or fill out the “Need Help” form on the right for a free consultation with one of our attorneys who specializes in personal injury cases so we can help you get a fair result. If you want to read more helpful information on what else to do after a car wreck, take a look at our article “You’ve Been in a Car Wreck, Now What”.