Getting in an accident is stressful enough. But the aftermath can be even worse. To top off all the emotional, physical and logistical problems of damaging your car and/or body, soon you must face the insurance adjuster. And while at their core adjusters are no better or worse than anybody else — they’re mostly kind to animals and may even help little old ladies cross the street – they can be formidable foes for you, the victim of an automobile catastrophe. Here’s what you should know to get the best outcome when dealing with this particular breed of human.
Never give a Recorded Statement
The insurance adjuster will call you and ask you if she can record your conversation. Just say “No.” There is no requirement that you give the opposing insurance company a recorded statement. You can politely tell them how the collision occurred, but there is no need for a recorded statement. The adjuster is just looking for ways to defeat or reduce your claim.
Understanding the Adjuster
A few words that sum up an adjuster’s caseload? Vast. Stressful. Some might say unreasonable. And the starting salary isn’t too great, either. With 200 or so open cases at any given moment, it’s no wonder the adjusteor wants to settle fast. And with pressure from highers-up to pay out as little as possible, you the victim are likely to feel both rushed and ripped off.
Keep in mind that when the adjuster says they will “accept responsibility” for an accident, that doesn’t mean they’re going to pay all your property damages, medical bills and then send you a get well card and an ice cream sundae. It simply means they will pay something. Probably a lot less than you had in mind.
Take Your Time
Don’t be in a rush to settle. The adjuster may be surly and difficult, hoping you’ll be so eager to never talk to them again that you’ll accept a pittance. This is the time to be creative. Sure, Dallas County is not easy to navigate without a car. But look into short-term options that will give you a few more days to negotiate. Some combination of carpools, rides from friends and family, rental cars, bicycles, taxis, buses, telecommuting and rescheduling appointments could buy those extra days.
When an adjuster is rude, at least your guard is up. You have to be extra careful of the friendly adjuster who tries to manipulate you. In the jackal-eat-jackal world of big insurance, adjusters are on the front lines of ensuring profits. Are they making conversation about your family, children, job demands, hobbies and habits? Don’t be fooled. The adjuster may be taking notes and figuring out how to use seemingly innocuous facts to reduce your settlement by proving some factor other than the accident caused your injury.
Instead, politely tell the chatty adjuster that you’re pressed for time and need to stick to the facts of your case. You’re under no obligation to reveal info about your life, health, activities or family. This includes details of your injuries and how much work time you have missed. You’ll submit this information in your demand for compensation.
The adjuster might not call you for a couple of days, hoping you’ll get desperate and settle for less. Don’t fall for it. And don’t lower your claim value before the insurance company makes a counter offer.
Don’t be Reactive
You know that old saying about counting to ten before saying something you’ll regret? With some adjusters, you’ll need to count to 20. Count away. Yelling, threats and sarcasm won’t help your case. Know the minimum amount you are willing to take. When the adjuster tries to lowball you, don’t get offended. Cultivate detachment and keep things professional.
If keeping a civil relationship with an adjuster seems impossible, it’s time to enlist help. A personal injury attorney can ease your burden. Many good attorneys offer free consultations for accident victims. A ppersonal injury attorney can make all the difference between losing your mind and peace of mind.