After involvement in a vehicle accident, an insurance adjuster may be either your best friend or your worst enemy. If you are unfamiliar with your insurance policy and the legal verbiage therein, dealing with insurance adjusters may be an unpleasant experience. An insurance adjuster refers to an expert responsible for researching your accident and looking into the terms of your insurance policy. After understanding the circumstances of the accident, the insurance adjuster determines the compensation you are entitled to. It is essential to know that an insurance adjuster is not on your side but the side of the insurance company.
Adjusters work with insurance companies to ensure that the companies boost their earnings by paying less in terms of insurance claims. The Personal Injury Attorney Law Firm can advise you on how to deal with insurance adjusters and get the compensation you deserve.
What You Need to Know
If you incur an injury as a victim of a car accident, dealing with insurance adjusters is one of the most dangerous obstacles you have to share. The first step you should take when dealing with adjusters is to consult a person who is on your side and willing to assist you. This person is a personal injury attorney. The insurance adjuster gets his/her pay, promotion, and bonuses by saving money for the insurance company.
It is important to remember that insurance companies are for-profit organizations. The primary purpose of insurance companies is to make significant profits. Typically, the companies boost their profits by holding back claims from victims. No matter what the insurance adjuster says, and no matter how nice he/she seems, you should not fall for it.
The primary reason why you need a personal injury attorney is to help you understand the tricks of the insurance adjuster. Typically, insurance adjusters use lots of tricks and maneuvers while executing their duties. They will pretend to be courteous and friendly and even sympathize with you. The insurance adjusters trick you into ensuring that you trust them. Upon trusting them, you will supply them with all the information they require. You should understand that all the information you provide the adjuster with may be used against you as you seek personal injury compensation.
The first rule when dealing with insurance adjusters is consulting your personal injury attorney before divulging any information to the adjusters. Do not allow the adjuster to read your statement because the adjuster may later use the statement out of context. You should avoid saying anything to the adjuster without the consent of your attorney. The adjuster may twist your words and use them against you.
Do not permit the recording of your statement until you consult your attorney. Do not allow the insurance adjuster to access your records without first seeking advice from your attorney. If you allow the adjuster to access your records, he/she will dig deep and identify every possible reason why you should not get compensation.
The people who seek the help of a personal injury attorney when dealing with insurance adjusters end up receiving more compensation. If you choose to go it alone, you may end up getting much less than what you deserve. The insurance adjuster is highly trained to handle insurance claims. The adjusters normally have vast experience gained from handling numerous cases. It is, therefore, important to ensure that you also seek a qualified and experienced personal injury attorney to represent you.
Negotiating with the Insurance Adjuster
Irrespective of whether you are dealing with your own insurance company or making a third party claim, you will encounter an insurance adjuster at some point. The first step the insurance adjuster takes is to investigate the accident. The adjuster will then assess the scope of your auto insurance coverage and make you a settlement offer.
You should prepare in advance by understanding your insurance claim and knowing what the insurance claim is worth. You should also have in mind the lowest figure you are willing to accept. Before you even contact the insurance company to seek compensation, you should know how much your claim is worth. When you initiate communication with the insurance adjuster, you should focus on the strong points of your case. Ensure that you point out to the adjuster why you deserve a high compensation. You may share with your personal injury attorney about the lowest figure or compensation you are willing to accept. However, you should not make the mistake of revealing the lowest acceptable figure to the insurance adjuster.
Most insurance adjusters may point out the various factors or items in your insurance claim that may be hard to prove. You should avoid exaggeration of the insurance claim but ensure that you seek fair compensation.
What to Expect
When dealing with insurance adjusters, most people often wonder about what to expect. How will the adjuster conduct the negotiation process? Do you have to meet with the insurance adjuster in person? When dealing with an insurance adjuster, you should expect to engage in give-and-take negotiations. You should not be in a hurry but should expect back-and-forth activities to help prove the strong points of your case. However, no matter how intense the negotiations become, ensure that you do not go below the minimum amount you are willing to accept.
In most cases, the negotiations for seeking compensation in vehicle accidents take place over the phone. You may have several phone conversations with the insurance adjuster. You may also have to meet face-to-face with the insurance adjuster under certain circumstances. Even if you have to meet face-to-face with the adjuster, you should not feel intimidated or stressed. You should also take your time to understand all the facts of your case and avoid rushing.
If you want a smooth negotiation with the insurance adjuster, you should also reciprocate by being polite and honest. The insurance adjusters work under the direction of higher authorities like managers, policyholders, and senior adjusters. Typically, insurance adjusters have so many cases to handle, and most of them are often stressed. Therefore, for a smooth claim process, you have to be respectful towards the insurance adjuster.
Seeking High Compensation
Depending on your negotiation skills and legal representation, you can make the insurance company pay you more. Insurance companies direct insurance adjusters to pay a claim for a certain amount or less. Most insurance adjusters will assert that the first settlement offer an insurance company makes is the final offer. However, this is not the case; if you are persistent and sure about the facts of your claim, you can negotiate for a higher offer. If it is evident that the insurance claim is worth more than the insurance company is offering, the adjuster can request for a raise of the settlement.
You can negotiate for a higher settlement by availing all the necessary supporting evidence. How can you prove the value of your damage? Photographs can provide valuable evidence. You may take photos of the damaged vehicle and also your bruises. To prove vehicle damage, you may avail reports from certified mechanics and appraisers. To prove your medical expenses, you should avail of medical records from the hospital.
An Insurance Company Acting in Bad Faith
When dealing with insurance adjusters and insurance companies, most people assume that the insurance companies act in good faith. However, this is not always the case. At times, an insurance company may be operating in bad faith. For instance, an insurance company may be operating in bad faith if the company avoids its duty to the claimants and policyholders. If you feel that the insurance company is acting in bad faith, you may bring a lawsuit against the company for insurance bad faith.
An insurance company may face charges for operating in bad faith if the company fails to conduct the proper investigations and negotiation of an insurance claim. If an insurance company fails to give a valid reason for denying a claim, the company may be operating in bad faith. You may sue an insurance company for acting in bad faith if the company fails to investigate and pay a claim within a reasonable time. You may also press charges if the company makes a final settlement/payment, which is significantly less the fair value of your claim.
Tips for Dealing with Insurance Adjusters
It is almost impossible for you to negotiate your insurance claim on your own without an attorney. Your knowledge and expertise cannot match that of the insurance adjuster. An attorney will do anything to ensure that you get what you deserve. Some of the tips you should have in mind when dealing with insurance adjusters include:
Portray Yourself as an Informed Claimant
You should highlight the facts and the circumstances of your accident claim. You should be bold as you outline to the insurance adjuster the circumstances that led to your injuries. Ensure that you capture and bring out the points that support the value of your personal injury claim. Even before interviewing you, the insurance adjuster is aware of the many facts surrounding your case. The adjuster interviews you to see if you are aware of the facts of your claim. If it is evident that you do not understand your rights, the adjuster may take advantage and deny you what you deserve. If you portray that you understand all the facts surrounding your case, the adjuster may not have an option but to give you what you deserve.
Outline all the Damages and Losses
Your personal injury attorney can help you to determine the total value of your damages. The attorney will also help you to know a fair amount of compensation for your accident claim. It is common for the insurance adjusters to break off the communication for a while and promise to get back to you after considering your case. Take advantage of this break and, together with your attorney, come up with a well-documented claim. Instead of being high and dry as you wait for the response of the insurance adjuster, get busy and gather the facts of your claim. With a well-documented insurance claim, it will be easy for you and your attorney to prove liability. After you prove liability successfully, the insurance company will not have an option but to compensate you for the damages.
Do Not Lower the Value of Your Claim
It is common for people to give up when dealing with insurance adjusters and end up accepting an offer that is less than what they deserve. Do not lower the prospective value of your insurance claim before getting a counter offer. Even if you are tired of waiting, do not give up. You will need an attorney to encourage you through the waiting process. Furnish the insurance adjuster with all the necessary documents like medical records or photos that will help to support the value of your claim.
Keep Calm and Professional Demeanor
When dealing with insurance adjusters, it is crucial to know that the insurance companies will offer you the lowest rate possible. It is important to keep good faith during settlement negotiations. If you show good faith during the negotiations, the settlement process becomes easy. Your attorney will advise you on the minimum amount of money you should accept. Even when the insurance company offers you a small amount, maintain your calm. Avoid losing your temper even if the offer made by the insurance company seems offensive.
Be Reasonable and Flexible
You should not be too rigid while dealing with insurance companies. Even if you know the value of your claim, you should be willing to listen to the insurance adjuster's offer. If the adjuster gives you a reasonably acceptable offer, your attorney may advise you to accept the offer. Coming to a mutual agreement with the other party's insurance company can help you avoid litigation. Before you accept the offer from the insurance adjuster, take into account all the losses and expenses associated with the accident. For instance, ensure that you take into account any liens and all the outstanding medical bills. You should not accept the settlement amount unless it covers all your bills. In addition to covering all your bills, the settlement amount should also reasonably compensate you for your losses.
Mistakes to Avoid when Dealing with Insurance Adjusters
If you make a mistake while dealing with insurance adjusters, you may end up losing thousands of dollars. Most adjusters will try to settle your insurance claim before you contact your personal injury lawyer. The adjusters understand that if they get to you before the lawyers, they can manipulate you and induce you to make wrong decisions. Some of the common mistakes that you should avoid while dealing with insurance adjusters include:
Providing Recorded or Written Statements to the Adjusters
After your involvement in an accident, an insurance adjuster will try to get as much information as possible from you. The worst mistake you can make is providing the adjuster with a recorded or written statement. The adjuster may decide to use the statement against you and deny you compensation. Due to the fear and confusion that comes with involvement in an accident, you are highly likely to make a wrong statement. Instead of stating the insurance adjuster, you should request a chance to contact your lawyer.
Authorizing Employment and Medical Releases
While investigating your insurance claim, the adjuster may request you to sign an employment or medical release to enable him/her obtain your employment and medical records. For instance, upon signing a medical release, the adjuster may obtain more information than the information that relates to your case. The adjuster may use the signed authorization to get all your medical records from when you were a child. The prosecutor may reveal factors about your medical records that are likely to affect the value of your case.
Just like in the case of medical releases, you should also refrain from signing an employment release. The adjuster may use the signed employment release to obtain more information than the information relating to the time spent out of the office due to your injuries. The adjuster may unearth unpleasant information relating to your performance reviews and discipline issues at work. These factors may lower the value of your case.
When negotiating with an insurance adjuster, you should not fail to take into account the applicable liens. Several liens may apply to your claim, and you will have to pay the liens using the proceeds from your insurance settlement. The insurance adjuster is not likely to reveal this information to you at the time of negotiation. Therefore, in the end, you will have a much lower compensation than you anticipated. Some of the liens that may apply to your claim include Medi-Cal, Medi-Care, and union benefit plans, among others.
Substituting Your Benefits with Benefits from other Insurers
The insurance adjuster may try to trick you by asserting that because you have other insurance covers, you should forego some benefits. For instance, the insurance company may claim that you will get a reimbursement of your medical bills by your private advantage. However, according to California law, the insurance adjusters have no legal right to deny you compensation based on this fact. You should get a reimbursement of your full medical bills even if your private insurance covered the bills.
The insurance adjuster may also attempt to deny you compensation for time off work and other fringe benefits because you have received disability benefits or sick pay from the employer. This is also against the California law. Therefore, even if you have received a disability or sick pay benefits, you should not let the insurance company deny you compensation based on this fact.
Failing to Comply with Statute of Limitations
You should not make the grave mistake of waiting until the last minute to resolve your insurance claim. After suffering injuries in an accident, you have to make a claim within two years from the time of the injury. This in line with the California statute of limitations that apply to personal injury laws. If you fail to resolve your insurance claim within the appropriate time deadlines, the law may disregard your claim. The insurance adjuster will take advantage of you if you are trying to rush at the last minute. You will receive poor settlement offers because you will be rushing against time.
It is good to seek the counsel of a personal injury attorney. The attorney will advise you on the appropriate time deadlines. The insurance adjuster will not be able to use the approaching deadlines against you.
Allowing the Insurance Adjuster to Give the First Offer
It would be a great mistake to allow the insurance adjuster to make the first offer. As the person who has suffered injuries in an accident, you should have the opportunity to make the first demand. You should not allow the insurance adjuster to evaluate your damages and determine the value of your claim. The insurance adjuster does not have your interest at heart and will understate your losses. When making the initial claim, ensure that you consider all your damages, both economic and non-economic.
You should seek the help of an attorney to help you analyze and craft the initial demand. It is advisable to make a high demand that will give you enough room for negotiation.
Failing to Question the Insurer's Calculations
When determining the value of your claim, the insurance adjuster will engage in numerous calculations to determine the extent of the damage. You have a right to question the calculations and the estimates made by the insurance adjuster. With the help of the attorney, you can scrutinize the adjuster's estimates to prevent an undervaluation of your claim. An attorney will negotiate with the insurance adjuster on your behalf to get a fair settlement.
Contact a Personal Injury Attorney Near Me
If you are dealing with an insurance adjuster in California, you can boost the value of your claim by knowing your rights. Employ the right tips and avoid common mistakes while making an insurance claim. The Personal Injury Attorney Law Firm can advise you on the steps to take. Contact us at 619-625-8707and speak to one of our attorneys today.