If you're involved in an auto accident, the insurance carrier will have an adjuster to evaluate your claim. The insurance adjuster evaluates the information that you submit and decides to pay or not pay your claim. While these adjusters may appear friendly and professional, it is important to remember that their job is to settle your claim quickly and cheaply so that the insurance company can save money. Here are 10 tricks that insurance adjusters use to lowball your auto accident injury case:
The Insurance Adjuster's Use Of A Quick Settlement Offer
Insurance carriers know that many people need money quickly after an auto accident, so they may offer a quick settlement that is much lower than what the claim is actually worth. The insurance company may present you with a take-it-or-leave-it settlement offer that is much lower than what your claim is worth. Don't fall for this trap – if the insurance adjuster doesn't have all of the information (including your medical records, lost wage statements, and a summary of your pain and suffering), then they can't fairly evaluate your case. If you receive a settlement check in the mail without explanation, don't cash it. Make sure it doesn't settle your entire claim!
The Insurance Adjuster's Use of Delay Tactics
The insurance company may try to stall your claim by requesting additional information or asking for a recorded statement. This is just a tactic to delay the process so that you get frustrated and accept a lower settlement.
You are going to have a lot of questions at the beginning of the claims process.
- Who should I contact with my claim?
- Is my vehicle going to be fixed?
- What type of rental will be provided?
- Is it time for me to visit a doctor?
An adjuster may be able to answer a few of these questions, but you may have a hard time getting in touch with your adjuster. Most insurance adjusters are assigned to handle several claims at one time, usually between 100 and 200 claims at once. The more complex your claim is, the less attention it will receive because the adjuster only has so much time to give to your claim. With such a heavy workload, it can be difficult to get someone on the phone that can help you.
But sometimes, the break-in communication with your adjuster can be more than just a workload issue. In fact, it may be strategic. By breaking off communication with claimants, insurance companies are hoping that the injury victim will grow frustrated and stop pursuing their claim. When the adjuster doesn't answer calls or return messaged, they are hoping you will become discouraged. They go through the claim procedure like it's a battle of attrition. The adjuster knows that it will be easier to persuade the injured party to accept a low-ball offer once they reach their breaking point.
Adjusters are always aware of the statute of limitations on your case. There is a time limit on how long you have to file a lawsuit in order to recover for your losses following an auto accident. Adjusters may choose not to contact you if your claim has been open for a lengthy period of time in the hopes that the statute of limitations will expire.
There have even been occasions where the adjuster has failed to communicate with the victim, and then one day a check appears in the mail out of nowhere. In this scenario, the injured party cashes the check and just like that, the claim is settled, allowing the adjuster to close his or her file. Of course, the check is usually for a very small amount, much less than what the case is actually worth.
The Insurance Adjuster Refuses To Pay For Certain Expenses
The insurance company may try to get out of paying for certain expenses related to your car accident. Again, this is just a tactic to lowball you. Don't let the insurance company get away with this – if you have incurred expenses related to your car accident, make sure you keep track of them so you can get reimbursed. Here are some items to watch out for. If the insurance company is lowballing you on these items citing bogus laws and rules, it's just another trick.
- Loss of Use (Rental Car) – The adjuster won't pay for all of your rental car period.
- Diminished Value (To Your Vehicle) – The adjuster won't reimburse you for the loss in value to your vehicle.
- Out-of-Pocket Expenses (Co-Pays) – The insurance company may try to get out of paying your co-pays for doctor's visits.
- Vehicle Towing and Storage Fees – The adjuster may try to minimize these fees or refuse to pay them altogether.
The Insurance Adjuster Asks You To Admit To Partially Causing The Incident
The individual who caused your auto accident, or the “at-fault party,” will be represented by an insurance company. The adjuster works for the insurance company that is paying your claim. Accepting responsibility usually means that the insurance company has to pay even more money. The adjuster will rarely – if ever – admit that their insured is in fact responsible for causing your injuries. Instead, the adjuster will simply issue a letter stating they are “investigating the claim” and “we haven't made a decision.”
Instead of accepting responsibility, the adjuster will focus on explaining how you are at fault, or partially at fault, for causing the incident. This happens all the time even in the face of clear facts! Be careful if the insurance adjuster starts using language like:
- “You had the last clear chance to avoid this collision” – despite the other party violating a traffic signal.
- “There is a witness that isn't in the police report” – where the traffic collision report is clearly in your favor
- “I need to take your recorded statement” – even though you already gave a statement to the police.
These kinds of inquiries may appear to be straightforward, but they can actually force you to admit that you might have been a contributing cause to the accident. If the adjuster is able to get your words twisted, they could end up denying your claim and hurting your settlement.
The insurance company may also try and delay payment on your claim by requesting additional information or asking for a recorded statement. This is just a tactic to delay the process so that you get frustrated and accept a lower settlement.
The Insurance Adjuster Wants You To Sign A Medical Release
The adjuster may ask that you sign a medical release so that they can collect all of your medical records. Don't sign a blank release. Be aware of where they are collecting and how far back they want your records. The adjuster loves to scoop up additional, unrelated records in hopes of finding something private & prejudicial.
A good rule of thumb: If the accident happened 6 months ago and the insurance adjuster wants records from more than 10 years ago, be very careful. You don't want the insurance company to have access to your private medical records going back that far or with facilities that are not related to the incident. The adjusters desire to twist old injuries into current ones, even if they are decades old and unrelated. Don't fall for this trick! It often ends in a low-ball settlement offer.
The Insurance Adjuster's Use of A Lawsuit Threat
The insurance company may try to intimidate you by making threats, such as saying they'll cancel your policy or sending you a notice of lawsuit. Don't be intimidated – these are just empty threats designed to make you settle for less.
- An insurance company is not going to cancel your policy because you made a claim. And if they do, you can simply get insurance through another company.
- As for a notice of lawsuit, the insurance company is just trying to scare you into settling. If they were actually going to sue you, they would have done so already.
The insurance company may also try to trick you by saying that if you don't accept their settlement offer, you'll have to go to court and may not get anything. This is simply not true. If you don't accept their offer, the insurance company will likely increase their offer. If you still don't agree, then a lawsuit may have to be filed.
The Insurance Adjuster Says Your Injuries Are “Only Soft Tissue”
The insurance company will also try to downplay the severity of your injuries by claiming that you only suffered “soft tissue” damage. But don't be fooled – soft tissue injuries can be very serious and often require long-term treatment.
What the insurance company is really trying to do is get you to settle quickly, before you realize the full extent of your injuries. So don't be fooled by this trick and make sure to get everything fully checked out.
The Insurance Adjuster Wants To Take Your Recorded Statement
Insurance adjusters may try to pull a fast one on you by requesting a recorded statement. You will be hesitant to say no since you are telling the truth right? Wrong! The adjuster will ask leading questions that are meant to trick you into downplaying the significance of your injuries and damages. For example:
Adjuster: “How are you doing today?” Answer: “I am doing well?” Your response is an innocent salutation, but will be taken as you being all better. When you want your medical bills paid later, the adjuster will remind you that you said you were doing well after the accident.
The Adjuster Surveils Your Social Media Pages To Find Dirt
The insurance company is always trying to find evidence that they can use to downplay your injuries. One way they do this is by looking into your public social media profiles. People have a tendency to put your best foot forward despite experiencing extreme difficulties in life. So, despite having severe pain, they get up for their photo for Instagram or Facebook. Be careful by not posting during your claim period. Making your profile private can be helpful as well. But if your case goes to trial, even private profiles can be opened.
Take it easy, concentrate on your recuperation, and keep in mind that you could be investigated.
The Adjuster Mentions That You Won't Need A Lawyer
Some adjusters will try to trick you into thinking that you don't need a lawyer by saying that lawyers just want to take your money. The fact is that our personal injury attorneys operate on a contingency basis, which means we get paid only if you win your case. And even then, our fee is a percentage of the settlement or verdict, so you're not out of pocket anything.
In addition, a good lawyer will likely get you a higher settlement than you could get on your own. So if an adjuster tells you that you don't need a lawyer, it's best to just ignore them and continue with your plans to hire one.
Seek the assistance of an experienced insurance accident lawyer right now.
Bottom line: be very careful when dealing with insurance companies after an accident. They are not on your side and will likely try to trick you into settling for less than you deserve. If you have any questions or concerns, be sure to speak with a qualified personal injury lawyer.
At Napolin Accident Injury Lawyer, our attorneys have years of experience in dealing with insurance carriers and the claims adjusters they employ. We know their tricks and how to best avoid them. Most importantly, we understand your rights as a victim and believe that they should be protected. If you or someone you know has been in a vehicle accident and is now dealing with insurance adjuster tricks, then we can help. Call 866-NAPOLIN to schedule a free and confidential consultation.
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