One should be very careful after an accident. Making the wrong statement can make getting a payout more difficult. The other side’s insurance carrier might be looking for a way to pay you the least it can legally can. Here are five common ways a claims adjuster may try to rip policyholders off.
1. Starting Off Friendly and Casual
A well-trained adjuster will try to get someone to feel comfortable with them first. They will say what they need to put claimants at ease, which will give the claimant a false sense of security.
The point of resorting to such tactics is to get the claimant to agree to make a written or oral statement. The insurance company rep might call it the fastest way to process the claim. There is some truth to their words. Rushing into a settlement is often the quickest way to get less than you deserve.
There are many words you should never use when talking with an insurance claims adjuster, including:
- “I accept”
- “I’m at fault”
- “Another driver hit them too”
- “I’m okay”
- “I think.”
2. Shifting the Blame
Be careful of sounding apologetic or sympathetic. The adjuster might use it to shift the blame. Do not say anything that can work in their favor.
For example, saying you feel bad for the other driver might get twisted into an admission of guilt. Another thing to avoid is saying the other driver must not have meant to do it. Do not give answers beyond the bare minimum.
Check with your insurance agent and lawyer before making any statements. All you need to say is the time, date, location, vehicles, and witnesses involved.
Watch out for statements like:
- “What could you have done to avoid the accident?”
- “Do you agree visibility was bad that day?”
- “How are you feeling today?”
These questions seem very innocent, but each one is a veiled attempt to limit the company’s liability. It doesn’t matter if another car ran a red light and hit you. The adjuster will try and make you mention a way you could have avoided it. Giving the wrong answer can make it seem as if you contributed to your injuries.
Other times adjustors might try to get you to mention weather conditions or other drivers that could also be at fault. If that fails, they might try to get you to say you are okay or that your car’s not in such a bad shape after the crash.
3. Asking for a Medical Records Release Form
Adjusters might make getting access to your medical records look like a quick and necessary part of the insurance claims process. They won’t mention they’ll get permission to search one’s entire medical history. This will allow them to try and find things to shift the narrative and blame you for the crash.
If you got injured in the collision, they would try to find a way to cast doubt. They will push the envelope to make your injuries or condition seem like they existed before. Giving them more info than needed is a significant mistake.
4. Saying Attorneys Just Waste Money
An adjuster’s job is to save the insurance company money. Keeping a claimant in the dark will further this end, but hiring an attorney will make their job much harder.
The reason is an attorney will put the brakes on many of these intrusive requests. Suppose an adjuster tells you not to get an attorney because it would be a waste of money. In that case, it usually means the adjuster is worrying that an attorney will be able to negotiate a higher payout on your behalf. Be on the alert, if an adjuster utters these words.
- Offering Quick Settlements
Sometimes there will be no way to spin a story. Adjusters will then try to offer you a quick settlement. They know how to dangle quick and easy money to limit their employer’s liability.
If you accept their offer, it usually means that you will forfeit your right to file a lawsuit in the future. This can save them many tens of thousands or millions of dollars and it will stop you from learning the correct value of your injuries.
Closing Thoughts on Claims Adjuster Tricks
Not every claims adjuster is an immoral person. All of them are just acting in their employer’s interest, not a claimant’s, as this is how their performance gets rated. Most do not lie, but they do present the facts in their favor. So, it is best to be very careful whenever giving a recorded statement.