When you’re involved in a car wreck, are injured, or make a claim for property damage, the insurance company you make a claim against will put you in the capable hands of an insurance adjuster.
Not necessarily “good hands.” But very capable hands. Capable of doing everything the insurance company has trained them to do in their efforts to pay out as little money to you as possible.
Generally within a few days, you will get a call from a friendly-sounding voice wanting to “just get a bit of information…” or “hear your side of the story.”
Insurance companies need to make sure your story sounds plausible. And for good reason.
Why Is the Insurance Adjuster Calling You?
You can have more than one adjuster to deal with. Many insurance companies have specialty adjusters. Some adjusters only investigate. Some deal with injury. Others specialize in negotiating and speaking with attorneys. You may also deal with property damage adjusters who only handle vehicle damages. These types of adjusters may be further specialized. One could be the estimating adjuster and another might be the one who pays you for damages.
But all adjusters have one thing in common.
Listening Between the Lines
In the interest of full disclosure, I rarely, if ever, advise my clients to speak with an insurance adjuster for a recorded statement. I have found that, for the most part, these recorded statements have not been in the best interest of my clients – but have more to do with obtaining information that the insurance company could potentially use later to try to minimize payment or deny a claim altogether. All cases and facts are different, so it is important you talk with an experienced personal injury attorney before giving information to the insurance company.
But if you do happen to speak with a car insurance adjuster, you can be assured they are trained in active listening. It is important that what you say to them is true, factual, succinct, and not editorialized. Here are five things you shouldn’t say to an insurance adjuster:
1. “He came out of nowhere.”
We have former insurance adjusters on our staff who worked for insurance companies for many years before they came to us. They tell us the inside joke among adjusters is they want to know where Nowhere is. Claiming someone “came out of nowhere” may lead an adjuster to wonder if you were paying attention.
2. “He had to have been speeding.”
Another editorialized comment our former adjusters often heard “almost on a daily basis” was, “They had to have been speeding.” Usually this is in reference to pulling out from a stop sign or a green light. Those active listening skills kick in, causing the adjuster to question: if the other guy was speeding and they got so close to you, then why did you pull out? That screams you were not paying attention. The adjuster is taking detailed “notes to self” while you are offering damaging information without realizing it. Later, when negotiation time comes, these off-hand comments could come back to haunt you.
3. “The next thing you know they hit me.”
Different state laws also play a role in certain cases. If your state has contributory negligence laws, then if someone is able to show you are even 1% at fault, you may not get compensation. Let’s say the police report showed a clear cut liability issue with the other driver. Don’t inadvertently say something that might give the adjuster an opportunity to twist your words. “Well, I saw him in the intersection and the next thing you know he hit me.” You may have had the right of way, but if you saw the other car, you should have had time to stop or react. The police report may say you’re not at fault, but you likely just gave yourself contributory negligence by admitting to the adjuster that you were partially at fault. The adjuster can then deny liability and not pay your claim based on your statement.
4. “My light turned green so I just pulled off.”
Did you look left? Did you look right? That adjuster may very well deny your case because, without realizing it, you seemingly admitted you did not look before entering into the intersection. You may have had the last clear chance to avoid the collision.
5. “I was coming from a friend’s house.”
Seriously? There are a whole lot of “friends” who seem to enjoy having company until 4 a.m., judging from the number of times adjusters have heard that one. Don’t tell an insurance adjuster you were coming from a friend’s house, or any other place, if you were not actually coming from there.
First of all, when you speak with an adjuster or any insurance representative, you want to be credible and honest in all your answers. Not only is it the right thing to do, but your credibility can be a powerful weapon in your defense – especially if you have to go to court.
Adjusters have ways of getting at the truth when they think you are not being truthful. They may follow up with more questions: “How long were you at your friend’s house? What were you doing? Had you been drinking? How many beers did you have?” These are just for starters. What do insurance adjusters look for when asking these questions? Possible proof you were partially negligent for the car accident injury you suffered.
We Can Help You Give Your Statement to the Adjuster
As I said, I almost always advise my clients against giving a recorded statement to the insurance adjuster because I have found it can do more harm to the client.
Yet some come to us after they have already given a statement. There are so many ways we’ve seen innocent car wreck victims hurt their case by talking to an insurance adjuster without realizing how some of their statements may be misinterpreted.
We can help you prepare to speak truthfully about your car accident, but in ways that will not inadvertently harm your case. If we feel a recorded statement is in your best interest, we can be on the call with you to try to make sure the adjuster does not take advantage or twist your words. If a written statement about the events of your car wreck is the best option, we can coordinate with you to come up with something that helps protect your rights.
Get a FREE Case Evaluation From Our Car Wreck Attorneys
If you or someone you care about was injured in a car wreck and an adjuster wants to “just get a bit more information,” contact an experienced car wreck lawyer before giving any statement. You don’t want to say anything that may damage your case before getting a professional evaluation.