dealing with the insurance adjuster
after an accident let me share a typical situation with you you were on your way home from work and
were broadsided by a car that ran the stop sign and you were shook up you were bruised a little
blood but no broken bones you believe you were blameless for that accident you immediately call the
police who send a squad car over to take
statements a tow truck took the car away and is now sitting in some shop you had
enough presence of mind to get the names and addresses of the
other driver and his passenger and you’ve written down the contact
information of the bystander who saw the accident you then took out
your cell phone and shot some photos you got home and phone in the accident to your insurance
company and you also made notes about exactly what happened you’ve done everything exactly right the
first thing in the morning your spouse drove you over to the doctor
the doctor looked at the bruises you sustained and gave you a prescription for some medicine because your
neck was sore your car is in the shop you explain to your boss and she says take
the day off as sick leave thus far you have done
everything absolutely right it’s now about noon the day after the
accident and all of a sudden the phone rings my
name is Mary Jones and I’m an independent adjuster with the
general Adjustment Bureau I understand you were in a minor accident
last night and I’m calling to help you get your
claim paid how are you this afternoon mister smith it’s the insurance adjuster not your
insurance adjuster not your company’s insurance adjuster
the adjustor for the other driver’s insurance company
remember this is the day after the accident and you don’t understand the nature and
scope of your injuries you have no idea what you’ll feel like
tomorrow much less next week or next month you haven’t even given any thought as to
whether or not it makes sense to speak to an attorney at this point in fact if you’re like most people you’d
rather not complicate things you don’t want to make a big deal out
what you think will be and hopefully is a minor accident
you’re hoping and expecting that everything will be alright you’ll be back to as good as new in a few
days in fact you’re probably more concerned about getting your car repaired and renting a loner until it is some
adjusters are nice and friendly mrs. jones may be a
wonderful person you may have seen her sing in the local choir
some adjusters are tough sometimes insurance companies bring on
multiple adjusters some nice some tough playing sort of a
good cop bad cop routine be aware that when the adjuster is
calling you or meeting with you whether the adjuster is employed by the
insurance company or the adjuster is a so-called independent
and works for herself or an adjustment bureau. she has a job to do and the adjustor’s job is to work things out so that the
insurance company that hired her will pay you as little as they possibly
can get away with often as fast as they can get away with
before there’s a chance that you understand
that stiff neck turns out to be disabling whiplash or the bruise that you suffered leaves a permanent scar or you consult an attorney the first
rule of thumb is to be very careful about anything you say even a friendly
response I’m fine mrs. Jones how are you may
later appear in her report as victim says he is feeling fine and that can damage
the settlement value of your claim or your chances to recover in court if
it ever comes to that because the insurance company will try
to show that you really are fine and now you must be exaggerating your
injuries the adjustor may ask to record the conversation allegedly so she can go over it later in
case she missed anything generally you should say a polite no to
that saying something like I’ll be happy to
go over anything with you informally but if you’re going to be
recording anything that sounds sort of formal to me so maybe i’d better speak to a lawyer
first and ask once the call is being recorded the
adjustor has an extra incentive to try to get you to say something which
will be captured on tape and that may be used against you to
undermine your potential claim or show your recollection is faulty or
be construed as misleading or suggest you are exaggerating in
fact most people significantly minimize their injuries so
as not to appear to be a crybaby men especially learn to appear tough and
grin and bear it in that reporting that the adjustor took could be played to the jury if the case
ever goes to trial what if the adjuster offers to pay to have
your car fixed take a to our approved and certified body
shop and we’ll do it for you and arrange for a
loaner from national until it’s fixed sounds reasonable but before you say yes
check out the reputation of the insurance companie’s body shop ask if the body shop will use original
manufacturer parts or aftermarket parts and decide if it makes a difference to you what is
being used ask if you can take it to your local
body shop and then decide be very cautious of one thing if the adjustor says I’m going to get the company to pay you a thousand dollars for the
minor injury you suffered plus fully cover the medical bills you’ve
had to date is that okay with you if so we can wrap
up the whole accident and move on and you’ll be one thousand
dollars richer tax-free if that happens to you just say no it’s okay if they go ahead and
fix the car but if you’re asked to sign anything at the
body shop or elsewhere make sure it does not release any
potential claim you may have for personal injury damages by all means get the car fixed but don’t
let the need to get the car fixed affect your judgment about a potential
personal injury claim in the first few days after an accident
you’re in no position to make that decision at that time you
don’t know the nature and scope of the injuries you may have sustained and
they can take weeks or months to develop