Dealing with an insurance company after an accident can be a hassle, especially if they represent the at-fault party. Here are seven things to be aware of before you speak to an adjuster.
1. The Insurance Adjuster Is Not Your Friend
Insurance companies are for-profit businesses that are always looking out for their own interests and do not intend to pay you the amount you deserve. Their goal is to either deny an accident claim or negotiate the lowest settlement possible. If you choose to handle your claim alone, the adjuster will know that you do not intend to go to court. As a result, they may use tactics to delay, devalue or invalidate your claim.
2. The First Settlement Offer Is Typically Unfairly Low
If there is evidence of the other party’s fault, their insurance company will likely send you a settlement offer within a few weeks or months after the accident. However, their initial offer will typically be much lower than your case’s actual value, and they are looking to quickly resolve your claim for as little money as possible. Therefore, an attorney would advise you to wait until you fully recover or reach maximum medical improvement (MMI) so you understand the full extent of your injuries and losses before you agree to a settlement.
3. The Insurance Company Will Ask You for a Recorded Statement
The insurance adjuster for the other driver’s insurance company will want to record your conversation, but you don’t have to say yes, and you shouldn’t. A recorded statement can be very damaging to your claim. If they spot any inconsistencies in your statement compared to the one you gave police, they will use it against you. They may also try to ask you trick questions that make you answer in a way that can be used as an admission of fault. If their efforts are successful, your compensation can be drastically and unfairly reduced.
4. The Insurance Company May Try To Avoid Paying Your Medical Bills and Doesn’t Have To Until You Settle
Although the at-fault party is responsible for your medical bills, they may argue that you are lying about the extent of your injuries, that they were pre-existing, or unrelated to the accident. This tactic can be particularly challenging to go up against if you failed to seek medical treatment immediately after the crash. Additionally, the insurer will not pay you for damages until your claim is resolved. If they paid for your medical treatment upfront, they would be helping you document your injuries and relieving your financial pressure. Instead, insurance companies want you to feel stressed in the hopes that you will settle your case cheaply to pay your medical bills.
5. You Don’t Have To Choose the Body Shop Recommended by the Insurance Company
By law, in almost all situations, you have the right to choose the body shop that repairs your vehicle. Insurance companies benefit financially when a claimant chooses to work with shops they hold contracts with because they’ve typically secured lower labor, parts, and material costs in exchange for the recommendations. However, a potential benefit is that your claim may be processed faster if the insurer already works with the body shop.
6. You Do Not Have To Accept the Insurer’s Offer for Your Totaled Vehicle
If the insurance adjuster finds that the repair cost is 70 percent or more of the vehicle’s value, the insurance company may deem it a “total loss.” They are then supposed to reimburse you for the car’s fair market value as of the day of the accident. If you feel their offer is unfairly low, you may want to do your own research on comparable vehicles or consult your insurance adjuster for a second opinion.
7. You Are Not Required to Speak With the Other Driver’s Insurance Company at All
You are not legally required to speak to the at-fault party’s insurance company. Whether you should typically depend on your specific situation, but you have the option to hire an attorney instead. A car accident lawyer in Kansas City can handle all communication with the adjuster on your behalf, so you never have to worry about what you might say or having to advocate for your rights.
Contact Goza & Honnold today for your free consultation.