How To Make Insurance Claims After Motorcycle Accidents
Motorcyclists are more likely to sustain significant injuries during a wreck than car drivers. This means if you have recently been in a motorcycle accident, you are probably dealing with medical bills and lost wages. The last thing you need is to have your insurance claim derailed by an insurance claims adjuster. So, what should you do when the insurance company calls? Below are a few suggestions.
Do not get too comfortable with the claims adjuster
Always remember that the claims adjuster is not on your side—not even the adjuster from your own insurance company. The role of an adjuster is to minimize the payout and protect the company’s interests. The insurance adjuster may even be looking for ways to deny your claim altogether.
Most adjusters will start by introducing themselves and asking how you are doing. He or she will generally start with small talk and simple questions, to make you feel comfortable. After that, the claims adjuster will begin asking more complex questions. Bear in mind, these adjusters are experts in handling insurance claims and will be waiting for you to say something that can be used to either limit, or deny your claim. That being the case, you should prepare for your conversation with the claims adjuster by doing the following:
- Choose a time and place for the conversation where you will not feel hurried. Most interviews occur over the phone, so choose a time that works for you, and find a quiet place to talk, so that you can concentrate on the questions being asked.
- Review any notes you may have taken and have a look at any photographs of the accident, to refresh your memory.
- Anticipate the type of questions the adjuster might ask so you can think about your answers in advance.
- Have a friend or family member present during the claim adjuster’s interview, both for moral support, and as a witness in case a dispute arises about what you told the adjuster.
- Speak with an attorney immediately to learn what your rights are, and so that you can get advice on how to answer some of the tougher questions.
- If the claims adjuster wants the conversation recorded, ask that you be provided with a copy of the statement when it’s complete.
When speaking with the adjuster:
- Give answers that are short and concise. Do not provide more information than requested. In other words, do not ramble on whenever a simple yes or no answer will suffice. Remember, adjusters try to make you feel comfortable at the beginning of the conversation in hopes of getting you to say something that might help them justify limiting or denying your claim.
- Always be truthful. The insurance company is likely to deny your claim if the adjuster thinks you’re lying. If you don’t know the answer to something, just say “I don’t know.” It’s much better to answer to this way rather than to making statements that you aren’t sure about.
- Do not admit fault. That is a legal conclusion. If you do admit fault, the adjuster will likely deny your claim.
- If you are unsure, avoid giving specific factual information. This is particularly true when a range of numbers might do. For example, if you are unsure, do not tell the adjuster exactly how fast you were going or the exact number of seconds it took to stop.
- Take notes and have your friend or family member do so as well.
Be aware of bullying tactics. For example, an adjuster may repeated badger you for the information you do not have. If this happen, politely but firmly tell the adjuster that the repetitive questioning is making you uncomfortable. If this continues, let the adjuster know that you are terminating the interview, and hang up. Do not get belligerent, and try to avoid any arguments or confrontations with the adjuster.
Ask the claims adjuster about fault
The claims adjuster for your insurance company will likely review the facts of the wreck and make a liability determination. However, many adjusters have a negative view of motorcycles and come with a preconceived notion that the motorcyclist is to blame—even before an investigation takes place.
At the end of your interview, if there is any ambiguity, ask directly who the adjuster believes is at fault for causing the wreck. If the adjuster answers that you are the party at fault, ask on what specific grounds the adjuster believes your are at fault. Having this information will help you and your lawyer plan how best to handle your claim.
Quick settlement offers from insurance companies
Motorcycle wrecks can be more costly than other types of wrecks due to the high likelihood of injury. Therefore, insurance adjusters are often eager to settle them quickly, and for as little money as possible. The problem is that the full extent of your injuries and damages may not be apparent. Additionally, the stress and trauma while recovering from a motorcycle wreck, particularly in the days immediately following the wreck, can cloud your thinking and cause you to make bad decisions.
For that reason, avoid accepting any initial insurance settlement offers until you have had time to completely assess your damages and speak with an attorney who is experienced in handling motorcycle wrecks. Do not let emotion or your worries about medical bills get the best of you. Always remember that any offer an insurance adjuster makes quickly is probably a low-ball offer.
My claims adjuster won’t cooperate — what now?
If any part of the process of dealing with an insurance claims adjuster feels intimidating or overwhelming, you may find it helpful to speak with an attorney experienced in motorcycle wrecks. Often times, an unrepresented injured person won’t even be able to get a call back from a claims adjuster. Call Dwyer Williams Cherkoss to schedule a free consultation. We may be able to help you.
For dedicated personal injury legal representation, schedule a consultation with the lawyers at Dwyer Williams Cherkoss. Call 1-800-285-8678 today.