Not long after you have experienced a car accident, a representative from an insurance company may contact you to verify certain details about the event or ask you some questions about your accident claim. There are many pieces of information you are not obligated to and should not provide to an insurance representative. Below are some important precautions to take when dealing with an auto insurance adjuster on the phone after your car crash.
Are you required to give a statement to an insurance adjuster?
The answer is no. The insurance adjuster may use the statement you provide against you. An adjuster may be looking to have you say something, anything, that can be used to devalue or deny your claim. It is important to understand that certain comments you make to the adjuster may be interpreted as an admission of liability, evidence that your injuries are not all that serious, or proof that you have not suffered monetarily as a result of the incident. Any of these conclusions made by the insurance adjuster can impact the offer you receive on your claim.
You definitely do not want to give a recorded statement to an insurance adjuster. The adjuster may claim that it is simply part of the process or company policy to take a recorded statement. However, the insurance company does not need a recorded statement to handle your claim.
An insurance adjuster may use a recorded statement you provide to gather evidence against you in the following way. They will speak with you in a conversational and friendly manner, possibly even offering condolences about the accident or joking with you. However, an adjuster may also ask you the same questions repeatedly or in different ways to get you to respond with a particular answer that is beneficial to the insurance company and not you.
Do not provide your Social Security number
The insurance adjuster may ask you to provide a few pieces of information such as your phone number, license plate number, and address. He or she may also ask you for your Social Security number. Although some of the details an adjuster asks for may be necessary to process your claim, your insurance adjuster does not need your Social Security number until a later stage of your claim. If you provide this number, the insurance company can potentially search through your financial history or other personal details to find information that they can use against you. To ensure you’re protecting yourself from devaluing your claim and cooperating to the level necessary in order to best help the processing of your claim, we advise you to speak with your attorney before you before providing this information.
Do not sign a release form that covers medical records before the crash
The insurance company may ask you to sign certain documents with your claim. One of these documents may be a medical records release. Although the insurer may require medical proof of your injuries, the insurer’s request should be restricted to records from the date of the accident forward. Avoid signing on the dotted line without checking whether the medical release covers all of your medical records (including those prior to the crash). You do not want to allow the insurance company to search through your entire medical history and find a potential reason to deny coverage for the injuries you have just sustained from the car accident.
Do not speak with the adjuster when you are in pain or on heavy meds
If you are in pain or on medications that may affect your judgment, you may still be reeling from the physical and emotional trauma of the crash. As a result, if you speak to an insurance adjuster in this condition, your answers the hazy, uncertain, or affected by emotion, particularly if the questions are designed to produce these responses. Therefore, wait until your mind is clear and you are not influenced by heavy medications or in pain before speaking with an adjuster. If necessary, tell an adjuster who has called that you will call back later, or better yet, have your attorney call back later.
Do not allow the insurance adjuster to persuade you from hiring an attorney
Beware that the representative from the insurance company may attempt to discourage you from seeking outside legal help on your claim. They may claim that hiring an attorney in your case is unnecessary and that you can get exactly what you need by simply dealing with them. The adjuster may even claim that an attorney will take most or all of your settlement money. Do not listen to any discouraging words from the insurance company’s representative about speaking to an attorney. If you hear this type of talk from the insurance adjuster, you may have a claim that is worth more than the insurance company is currently willing to offer.
The experienced Nashville car crash attorneys at Rocky McElhaney Law Firm are here to protect your rights after you’ve been hurt in a wreck. We fight vigorously for the compensation you are owed for your injuries. From our offices in Nashville, Hendersonville, and Knoxville, we serve clients throughout the state of Tennessee. To schedule a free, initial consultation about your case, give us a call today at 615.425.2500 or use our contact form to drop us a message.