Secrets of a Claims Adjuster

October 21st, 2011
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Auto Insurance Claims Adjuster

So, you’re headed to work and end up at a red light, it turns green and you move forward through the intersection, when out of no where someone runs the red light and crashes right into your side. You veer sideways and your airbag employs out to greet you good morning.

Now what? Firstly, you want to call 911, secondly, keep quiet and don’t sign anything and if the other driver’s insurance company sends over a claims adjuster the next day don’t talk to him either.

After an accident, claims adjusters are called in to try to settle the case as inexpensively as possible, they are trained to sniff out fraud and some say they are trained to get inside your head by:

  • Trying to get you to settle immediately – Some adjusters come out to the scene and offer checks on the spot
  • Tricking you into compromising your case
  • Coercing you to use a “preferred” repair shop
  • Offering less than fair replacement value if the car is totaled

“Insurance companies didn’t get to be $15 billion and $20 billion companies because they give money away,” says John Smith of Morgan Hubble Smith Insurance, based in Columbus, Ohio.

Claims Adjusters will try anything to get you to settle, below are ways to protect yourself:

You Have The Right To Remain Silent

“People talk too much. Your best advice is to make sure everyone is OK and then say nothing,” says Smith, who’s been in the insurance industry for 27 years.

Being in an accident can leave you dizzy, injured, mad, hysterical, etc. so the first words to come out of your mouth may not be the smartest ones.

Claims adjusters love to hear things like:

  • Apologies. It may be interpreted as admitting fault.
  • Overstatement. Witnesses or Cameras may conflict with your statement.
  • Too much information. Don’t let them believe that your head wasn’t in the right place.

Tell the police and paramedics the basics, you have the right protect your innocence so don’t say a word, just incase the claims adjuster tries to use your words against you.

Speak Up

When you get in an accident you go through an adrenaline rush and feel fine and may not be aware of injuries you could have sustained. You may not even feel these injuries until a day or two later, many people may fear that they could be perceived as committing fraud but do not be afraid to report the injury.

Penny Gusner, a consumer analyst at CarInsurance.com suggests keeping a “pain journal.” Write down how you feel each day and how specific activities are affected. Don’t be a drama queen. But do spell out the physical costs and the actual ones, such as, missed work, can’t lift heavy objects, paying for babysitter.

Loaded Questions

Written records can help when you give your statement. Be sure not to make a statement until you’ve spoken with your own insurance company and if you’ve hired a lawyer, request that all statements go through them.

Be careful when making a statement, adjusters may ask you questions that may incriminate yourself, such as:

  • 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.)

Refuse To Be Rushed

The quicker you settle with a claims adjuster the less likely you will be properly protected. If someone shows up on the scene of the accident and writes you a check right then and there don’t take it.

Injuries may not be present but three days later can pop up unexpectedly and you don’t want to blow your chance of a full and proper compensation.

Do Your Homework

If you don’t already have a favored auto shop, find one immediately. Claims adjusters will try to send you to their ‘preferred’ repair shop. You don’t want to go there.

Insurance companies know they can control costs better at certain body shops over others by specifying basic repairs. Which can leave your car looking nice and repaired but may leave serious issues underneath it all.

Fight Back

While waiting for your repair estimate, start doing your own comparable research. Depending on the damage your car may be declared a total loss and you’ll need to know a realistic replacement cost in order to judge whether the adjuster has given you a fair offer.

Make sure to ask for rental car reimbursement as well, you are entitled to repayment but the claims adjuster will not be the person to remind you of this so make sure you ask all the right questions to ensure you receive the best reimbursement.

Insurance companies are business first and foremost; they stay in business by taking in more money than they give out, and it is always in their best interest to get you to accept as little as possible, so fight back and get what you deserve.

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