WHAT NOT TO SAY
TO AN INSURANCE ADJUSTER
Sept. 30, 2020
You’ve been in a car accident. Perhaps law enforcement was at the scene taking your statement. You exchanged insurance information with the driver of the other vehicle involved. Maybe you were injured or someone else was injured. Undoubtedly, you have been traumatized to some degree and might worry about what comes next.
More than 27,000 crashes occurred in Idaho in 2019. Some of them came to Shep Law Office for help and we delivered, letting them know what to expect and walking them through the “what comes next” so they didn’t have to do it alone. If you’ve been in an accident in Boise, Meridian, Ada County, Canyon County, or anywhere else in Idaho, contact us for a free consultation.
Insurance Adjuster’s Role
The insurance or claims adjuster for an auto insurance company handles all aspects of a car accident claim. The adjuster schedules damage inspections, reviews crash reports and medical records of injured parties, then places a monetary value on a claim. One of the first steps in the adjuster’s investigation is interviewing the claimant and witnesses to the crash.
Requests for a Statement
You could get a call from an insurance company adjuster before you even make it home from the scene. As soon as the company knows an insured has been involved in a crash, an adjuster is assigned to investigate related claims. And although adjusters will make it sound like they just want to ask you a few friendly questions, you should consider refusing for three reasons to keep insurers from devaluing your claim:
The insurer can use your statement against you. Maybe you tell the adjuster you weren’t injured but later find out you are. That contradiction will be used to question your veracity.
The insurer can use what you say to reduce compensation. For example, if you admit you were changing the radio station at the time of the crash, the insurer will assign a percentage of fault to you which reduces compensation for your claim.
The adjuster might ask contradictory questions to create inconsistency. You might be asked the same question in more than one way, and you might answer it a little differently each time. Insurers use the inconsistency to raise doubts about your version of the crash.
If you decide to give the adjuster a statement, there are six things you should do to try to protect yourself:
Don’t admit guilt for the crash. Even if you believe you were completely or partially at fault for a crash, don’t admit any liability.
Don’t answer any questions you don’t know the answer to. Don’t guess about something just to answer a question. If you don’t know or aren’t sure, say so.
Don’t volunteer any information not specifically requested. Make the adjuster do the work. Don’t help if they fail to ask a question about something.
Keep your answers brief. A simple “yes” or “no” is best.
Don’t sign anything unless you’ve had an attorney review it first. Signing a statement or a settlement offer is like signing a contract. Consult an attorney first.
What Information Will They Ask Me to Provide?
The adjuster will ask for your permission to record the interview, followed by asking for basic information such as your full name, address, and date of birth. Always assume that the conversation is being recorded, even when you don't grant permission (because it very well could be), so be mindful of what you say. They will then ask a series of mostly leading questions covering areas such as damage to vehicles, weather conditions, presence of passengers, drug and alcohol use, utilization and deployment of safety devices, evasive actions, injuries, and medical treatment. They will end by asking if you have anything else to say. (See No. 4, above.)
Hiring Legal Counsel to Help
Having an experienced attorney representing you can make the difference between receiving compensation or not. Insurance companies are motivated by profits, and they make those by not paying claims. They will have attorneys working for them and so should you. You need an attorney on your side to investigate, value your bodily injury claim, and negotiate a settlement. Moreover, once you hire an attorney, all communication with the insurer goes through your attorney who speaks on your behalf, protecting you and your interests.
At Shep Law Office, we’ve successfully represented hundreds of clients from Boise, Meridian, and across Idaho in their insurance claims. Consultations are free so don’t wait. Call us today.