Handling the First Call from the Insurance Adjuster
Absolutely no recording! This is a primary, cardinal Number One Rule. What you say can and will be used against you. Deflect all of these questions and tell her that you will be sure to answer all of her questions in writing, when you send in your demand letter. She has no right to the information at this time and do not participate in giving it to her. She is going to want to know your version of the accident. You can't believe how sweetly the question will come because it sounds like she wants to be your good neighbor and friend. Just remember her good hands are on your wallet and anything about the accident will work to your disadvantage later on. Tell her very politely that you do not choose to give any statement whatsoever regarding your version or any version of the accident. Tell her that you will be glad to discuss the facts further at the appropriate time. Tell her you will be making a written demand for compensation and it will include a complete description of the accident. She is going to want to know if you have knowledge of any witnesses. Again, it is none of her business to know who your witnesses are and we recommend that you don't identify them. She is going to want to know where you went for treatment, and, by the way, how are you feeling today, and-oh-what did your doctors tell you about your injuries. NEVER, EVER, GIVE HER THIS INFORMATION EARLY ON.
There is not one thing in her requests that cannot wait your sending to her a brief paragraph in writing. The reason why she wins and you lose-big time-if you answer is that at this early stage, you do not know what is important or not important about any of those topics. In truth though, much is at risk, because in the informal format of the interview you will not think to include everything. You may also experience pain in areas of your body that you are not aware of this early after the accident. And although her recorded statement sounds informal, once you give a statement, it may as well be etched in stone.
See, she will ask you when you are finished speaking whether or not there is anything else you can remember that you want to add. Then, so far as the insurance company is concerned, you have just committed yourself to that particular set of facts. YOU CANNONT LATER COME AND CHANGE THINGS WITHOUT AROUSING SUSPICION AND RESISTENCE.
For more help on this subject matter, including;
Keep Your Resolve
With respect to the second rule, keep your resolve. She may try to intimidate you and discourage you from proceeding with full vigor by arguing "no liability" at the outset. She knows that her insured owes you something and she is trying to deflate your enthusiasm for documenting and submitting your claim. You do not have to get into a debate with her, or prove her wrong on the phone. Calmly state that you are sure that she, as a professional, would not make a decision on partial facts and that once she has your complete demand package she will agree with your assessment.
Then say goodbye and get off the phone. DO NOT engage her in idle banter; she has no facts to go on and all she is doing has nothing positive in it for you, so don't accept her invitation to spar at this time. Once you are free of her, read more of this website to understand the strengths and weaknesses of your case. Keep working on documentation and on healing yourself. In time you will come to see the best way to present your claim.
Resist Overtures toward an Early Settlement
The third ground rule is to resist her overtures toward an early settlement. If you do have a particularly strong case, both in terms of liability and severe bodily injury, you can expect that the adjuster is going to try to settle the claim early. She may not try it during the first call, but somewhere early on, she is going to indicate that the case is one of clear liability against her insured and that she has a fair offer for you. She may even blurt out a proposal: "I cleared this with my supervisor because we feel so bad about what happened to you. He authorized me to take care of all your medical expenses in this matter and pay you an additional $2,500 on top of that! You won't have to submit a thing; we pretty much know what your medical treatments consist of. My boss has only done this in two other cases that I know of. That sounds pretty fair, doesn't it? I can have the paperwork prepared along with the check to you in, say, two days. OK?"
WOW! You would swear some of these adjusters could sell used cars and do quite well at it. She is not doing you any favors at all. What she is doing is nothing you want any part of; she is trying to avoid what she sees as the possibility of extensive damages. Insurance companies do not want to hang around on the payment end of a heavy damages claim as they watch the medical expenses increase and the pain and suffering award grow. Of course every early settlement offer is not the sign of a particularly strong case; some cases with simple damages need to be settled early.
The key to knowing when avoid the overtures to early settlement is to focus on your injuries: if they are simple and you completed all necessary medical treatment after only one or two visits, there is nothing wrong with entertaining an early settlement offer. Just make sure she has all the information from you and your doctors before she formulates her offer. And make sure you counter her offer at a higher amount than you actually want.
On the other hand, as is most often the case when an insurance adjuster is anxious to settle, if your injuries are more severe, or will take some longer time for a course of treatments, then she is trying to buy a settlement on the cheap, and you need to politely decline her overtures. Do not be one of the crowd that accepts an unsatisfactory settlement offer. Most people are so overjoyed to know they will not have to fight for a settlement that they jump at the first offer.
Plus she has worked in a neat little factor in her presentation to induce you to settle because you might feel beholden to both her and her supervisor. Do you recall (from the example above) how she told you about going to bat for you and your award, and how her supervisor also went along, in a rare show of compassion?? The natural reaction of most people is to be in awe of-and thankful for-all she has done for them. "Gosh, look what they did for me; they really care about me and my well-being; they really went out on a limb for me to make this offer."
Can you see how making you feel indebted to her and her supervisor makes you want to believe that what she has done is fair, and it would be in bad taste to go against all they have arranged and ask for much-if any at all-more money? This is nothing more than a pleasant way to intimidate the poor victim from seeking his rights. Instead of threats and harsh talk, she has used honey, but make no mistake: her purpose is to undermine your resolve to push forward toward a fair settlement. And if you listen to her, she has won with sweet intimidation.
What is the key to avoiding this trap? First, this advice only applies if you do have a case involving something more than just one visit or two to the doctor. If that is your situation, then when she starts to sell you on an early settlement, the key is: DO NOT EVEN LISTEN TO HER. DO NOT LET HER GET HER PROPOSAL OUT ON THE TABLE. SHUT HER DOWN; TELL HER IT IS FAR TOO EARLY TO MAKE ANY SUCH OFFER, AND YOU DO NOT INTEND TO SELL YOUR CLAIM SHORT. USE THOSE EXACT WORDS. And end that topic of conversation. Why should you say this, isn't that rude?
No, what she is trying to do to you is rude. If you even so much as ask her what the offer is, then she has won a BIG part of her battle; you have shown a big weakness because you have shown an interest in settling before you've resolved your medical care. The proper response is to politely tell her that you are under medical care and treatment and that when you are stabilized, you will present her a demand package and then learn her value of the claim. Tell her that you don't believe she could possibly have an understanding of the value of the claim because she has not received medical information.
Finally, as with all other conversations involving these matters, take notes. You can scribble them down on a piece of paper while you are talking but later transpose them to the Confidential Personal Diary. That way you have a chronological record of all the adjusters you have talked with and the questions they have asked and your responses. Augment the diary with additional pieces of paper if you wish.
SettlementCentral.Com has a wealth of information and special tips for members who wish to arm themselves with the best advice for dealing with insurance companies. Our Negotiation section is filled with fresh and effective ideas on how to approach a company to ensure a successful settlement of your case.
To access this valuable information, please join now!
Who we are |
What we do for you |
Join now! |
our subscriber information. We will never do so. Click here to read the fine print. More