Whenever you have insurance, your contract will typically specify that you are required to cooperate with your insurance company when claims are filed. While this means that you are obligated to discuss your accident with the insurance claims adjuster, you can tell them to arrange the discussion with your car accident attorney if you have already retained one.
Do I Have to Talk With a Claims Adjuster in Florida?
On that note, you are under no legal obligation to discuss the accident with the other driver’s insurance company. They will attempt to contact you for a statement, but you don’t have to give one. In fact, you should be wary of communicating with these adjusters who are attempting to obtain information to help them settle your claim. Their goal will be to build a defense against your claim or to minimize
the amount of your settlement. It is common for insurance companies to pretend that they want to help you settle the claim so that they can get information from you that they can later use against you to reduce the amount that they have to pay you.
It is also important to keep in mind that your medical condition may not be known or the outlook may not have been determined at the time that you communicate with insurance adjusters, so they can end up with an inaccurate idea of what your damages really are. They frequently do this on purpose in hopes of setting a reserve value on the case before the full expenses are known.
The reserve value of your case is the maximum amount that the insurance adjuster is going to want to pay. This means that you won’t be able to settle so easily but may have to file a lawsuit to get anything above what the insurance adjuster has reserved for the case.
Can I Avoid Talking With the Insurance Adjuster?
Every case is different, and you may not necessarily need to avoid communication with adjusters. You may have minimal injuries or the coverage may be minimal, and it may be in your best interests to simply settle the case quickly when you know that you won’t be able to get a larger settlement.
The wisest course of action, when in doubt, is to discuss your case with an attorney. The insurance company will not be able to directly contact you once you tell them that you’ve retained legal representation. From that point forward, they will contact your attorney instead of you. The attorney will also be in a better position to successfully obtain a fair settlement or a fair judgment.
Never assume that your insurance company is above deception. Recently, insurance companies have faced lawsuits for sending out information to their clients that tell them not to seek the guidance and representation of a personal injury lawyer. They advise against hiring an attorney because they want you to settle for a lower amount than you deserve without you even being aware of it.
It is entirely up to you whether or not you want to communicate with the insurance claims adjuster of the other driver, though it is wiser to contact an attorney to avoid damaging your claim.
How to Handle the First Calls from an Adjuster
You will be surprised at how quickly you’ll be contacted by an insurance company after an accident. You can return home from the scene of the accident or from the hospital to find your phone already ringing as you walk in the door. It’s important to know what to say and what not to say during this initial phone call, and it’s important to know how to behave on the call. For best results, follow our advice:
Be Polite and Stay Calm
It is not uncommon for victims of accidents to be angry and upset by the situation. Yet it is essential that you avoid taking your anger out on the insurance adjuster who contacts you. It will not help you to mistreat or disrespect the insurance company on the phone. By being polite, calm, and respectful you can promote a feeling of goodwill where the adjuster is more inclined to believe you and empathize with your situation. Of course, this doesn’t mean that he or she is on your side, but it is better than starting off completely at odds with the insurance company.
Identify the Caller
Do not discuss the accident before you obtain the contact information of the caller. This should include the name, address, telephone number, name of the insurance company, and the represented person.
Take Notes During the Phone Call
You should write down all of the information that you receive in addition to all of the information that you give while discussing your accident on the phone with an insurance adjuster.
Limit Personal Information
Do not over-explain or reveal too much personal information. Don’t speak too much about your income, your job, or your schedule. You only need to reveal your name, address, phone number, and the place of your employment. No further details are needed.
Don’t Give a Statement
When an insurance company asks you for a statement, they want you to explain how the accident occurred. They may even trick you into giving details just by getting you into a conversation. You want to be respectful and polite but refuse to discuss the details of the accident. You can tell them the basic facts, like when and where it happened, what type of accident it was, which vehicles were involved, and which individuals witnessed the accident. Beyond this, you can simply say that the investigation is continuing and you will be happy to discuss the details at a later date. The time to discuss the details of the accident will be when you send a written demand letter for compensation.
Don’t Discuss Injuries
It is important to avoid discussing your injuries with the insurance adjuster in this first phone call. You don’t want to accidentally leave something out or share incomplete information that you don’t even have yet. Politely explain that you are still being evaluated to determine the extent of your injuries and that you will discuss this at a later date. Again, the demand letter is the place to detail your injuries.
When the insurance adjuster calls you the first time, you can make it very clear in the beginning that you are not able to discuss the accident at length. You need to limit the information you provide and set clear limits for future conversations. Some insurance adjusters will call you repeatedly to tempt you into a quick settlement, and you can put a stop to this before it starts by setting clear limits. It is even more important to avoid providing the insurance company with inaccurate or incomplete information.
Refuse Recorded Statements
Never agree to a recorded telephone conversation with an insurance adjuster. There is no law that says that you have to speak to someone who is recording you, and while the insurance adjuster may try to casually ask if they can record you or say that it is for your protection, they do not have any legal right to record you without your express permission to do so.
It is very common for a person to get uncomfortable when they know they’re being recorded. This can cause you to express yourself in a way that inaccurate or incomplete. Your verbal statement will not be as thorough and accurate as of the written demand letter that you will send later. Yet it is hard to argue with a recording that is used as evidence against you.
All you have to do is respectfully decline the request to record your statement or conversation. You can express that you are not comfortable with being recorded and that you will gladly provide all of the requested details in writing when you have the complete information.
Avoid Temptation of Quick Settlement
The insurance company can save time, work, and money by offering a quick settlement within the first or second phone call. You are more likely to settle for less than you deserve when you settle quickly. It is much wiser to resist this temptation and wait until you know what your claim is worth.