Published On: 10.4.2011 Charlotte, NC
Common Tactics Used By Insurance Adjusters And How To Avoid Them
On behalf of Charles G. Monnett III & Associates
After an auto accident, an insurance adjuster’s primary job is to settle the case as quickly and inexpensively as possible. Many of them use similar tactics to try and save their companies money, while leaving the people involved in the accident with less than desirable compensation. This means it is important for anyone involved in a car accident to make sure they look out for their own interests. If you find yourself in an auto accident, here are a few tips to help:
1. Do not volunteer any information: Immediately after the accident keep your mouth shut. It’s very common for people to feel confused, panicked, or distraught after an accident and this state often leads to people saying things that can be taken out of context and used against them. In such a state, you might exagerate the events of the accident and the insurance adjuster can use your words to portray you as dishonest. If you apologize after a wreck the insurance adjuster will you use your words as an admission of guilt. Even saying small comments about how bad your day had been could be used against you. This why it’s extremely important to watch what you say after an accident, even if it’s to the police or the paramedics.
2. Keep track of your injuries: After a car accident it can sometimes take awhile for the injuries to show. It could be helpful to keep a pain journal so you can remember how bad the pain was and if it is getting worse. You will also need to keep track of all the daily activities you might struggle with since the accident or if you have to miss any days of work. Insurance companies try to settle cases as quickly as possible, so this kind of pain and suffering needs to be known so you can get a fair settlement.
3. Watch out for loaded questions: An insurance adjuster is going to try to get a statement from you as soon as possible and they are going to try to ask a lot of tricky questions. Here are some examples of questions they might ask:
- How could you have avoided the auto crash?
- How much do you think you are responsible?
- Do you think the weather (snow, rain, wind or fog) affected you?
- Did you have any previous injuries like back or neck pain before the car wreck?
- Can we get access to your medical records and the name and address of the doctor who is treating you? (Don’t do this, as it potentially gives access to your entire medical history.)
The purpose of these questions is to try to get you to admit fault for the accident. It can be very helpful to have an attorney in these situations to make sure you don’t get tricked into answering any of these loaded questions.
4. Do not get hurried: Some insurance adjusters will show up at the scene of a car accident and offer some amount of money on the spot. It is a bad idea to fall for this instant gratification. It’s hard to resist somone handing you money on the spot, but there could many things that you’ve not had time to assess. Many injuries associated with car accidents do not present themselves for some time after the accident. Also, there may be more damage to your vehicle than meets the eye. You wouldn’t want to accept an offer that’s not going to cover all of your medical bills and car repairs, so it is always best to wait and negotiate later once you have a better idea of what kind of compensation you need.
5. Research everything: It might be hard to do this since we all lead busy lives and the insurance adjuster will be there trying to rush you to settle, but it’s important to make sure you have all the facts before you agree to anything. Many insurance companies try to encourage you to go to one of their “preferred” car repair shops. The reason they do this is because they know that can control costs at these places by specifying the most basic of repairs. This can leave you with a car that looks nice on the outside, but there may still be some serious mechanical problems underneath the shiney exterior. You will also want to research the total value of your car. If the car is totaled you will want to know the realistic cost of a replacement. This way you can make sure the offer from the insurance adjuster is a fair one.
6. Do not be a pushover: Now that you have done all of your research and you have kept track of your injuries and medical expenses, you are ready to negotiate. The insurance adjuster will try to offer the bare minimum for your accident and it is up to you to show all of the expenses you’ve incurred and fight for the amount you deserve. It can also be helpful to have an attorney in this situation. Having a knowledgable and experienced attorney on your side makes it more likely that the insurance company will give you a fair settlement.