DEALING WITH INSURANCE ADJUSTERS
Insurance adjusters are trained to do a job for their company and follow procedures designed to protect the insurance company and serve it’s best interests. While insurance adjusters may actually want to settle a claim fairly, the procedures that they must follow are designed to tip the scales in favor of the company at the expense of the victim. The following are common practices that personal injury victims may not be aware of when dealing directly with an adjuster.
- Leaving the impression that the adjuster will fairly address your damages. Generally, the victim mistakenly believes that when the insurance adjuster makes statements like “we accept responsibility,” that that means that the offer for damages will be fair. However, what’s “fair” is pretty subjective, and the victim and the adverse insurance carrier will likely have radically different ideas about what is fair. When a victim realizes an insurance company’s idea of what is fair is much different than their own idea of fairness, it will be clear that obtaining representation by a skilled personal injury attorney is not only a good idea; it’s necessary in order to receive the best settlement offer.
- Suggesting to the victim that they may not need an attorney or that they will net less with an attorney. What most victims don’t understand is that insurance companies handle hundreds of thousands of claims. They are experts. Without an attorney, the victim generally doesn’t have any leverage over the insurance company to act fairly.
- Getting a recorded statement. In some instances, the insurance adjuster just wants to obtain the facts necessary to properly evaluate the claim, including property damage and physical injuries. In other cases, the recorded statement is simply an attempt to obtain unfavorable admissions by an uninformed person prior to being represented by an attorney. Many adjusters have gone to school to learn how to obtain admissions that hurt the claimant’s case. Leading questions and loaded questions are common tactics.
- Quick settlement offers with estimated future medical. Using this tactic an adjuster will seek to close the file early and estimate medical expenses that may be incurred in the future. Unfortunately, the insurance company also requires a full release of liability and if the damages turn out to be more serious or the medical bills were excessive, the innocent victim is left holding the bag with no real recourse. If you settle too quickly without realizing the full extent of your damages, you may be selling your claim short.
- Seeking to apportion responsibility when the accident was clearly caused by their insured. Using this tactic, many adjusters seek to discount the damages that their insured has caused by claiming that the innocent victim was partly responsible. This is usually done even though the accident report shows the crash was caused by the negligent driver they insured. It’s unbelievable how some adjusters will try to shift a portion of liability on the victim. It’s very difficult to undo this apportionment later.
- Discounting medical bills and expenses. Adjusters use this tactic to reduce the amount that they need to pay for medical expenses. It is common for adjusters to attempt to discount medical bills that were actually incurred by saying such things as the amount of treatment was excessive, unnecessary or not reasonable. Keep mind, these adjusters are not doctors. They are simply trying to whittle down your claim.
These are only a few of the common tricks of the trade used by some insurance adjusters to reduce the value of the claim. Unfortunately, personal injury victims are usually at a disadvantage in that they are not familiar with the claims process and don’t understand the adverse positions of the parties.
Personal injury victims are encouraged to seek consultations with an experienced and reputable personal injury attorney before they attempt to deal with an adjuster regarding a personal injury claim. Again, the insurance companies are experts. You should have an expert on your side too.