If you’re in a car accident, of course, you want to think your company is going to be on your side. That’s what you pay them for, after all. Unfortunately, that’s not always what happens.
Your insurance company is a business, and as a business, they want to make the most and spend the least amount of money possible.
With that in mind, you need to be careful when you file a claim and work with your insurance company. You need to watch what you say because as cliché as it may sound, it can be used against you.
The following are some things to avoid saying and doing as far as your insurance company following an accident. The same goes for the other driver’s insurance company involved in the accident if they contact you.
Don’t Contact Your Company Immediately
You want to get in touch with your insurance company sooner rather than later following an accident, but at the same time, you want to avoid contacting them when you’re still very upset or shocked.
You need first to make sure that you are calm and that your health and welfare are taken care of before you reach out to your company.
You should always keep in mind with any communication with an insurance company that they want to close the case out as soon as they can, for as little money as possible. Their objectives are not in line with yours.
Don’t Give a Recorded Statement
First, when an insurance adjuster contacts you to ask you questions or provide a statement about your accident, they might ask you if they can record you.
Even seemingly innocent comments that you make can be problematic down the road.
For example, if you said you were fine, but you were actually dealing with pain, it could become an issue.
The adjuster can take the fact that you initially said you were fine as a reason for not paying for pain, and suffering.
It’s very easy for an adjuster to take anything out of context to deny or reduce your claim.
An adjuster might also use recorded calls as a way to get you to agree to something to settle a claim quickly.
An adjuster might tell you that you have to make a recorded statement, and you don’t. You have the right to refuse.
Keep Conversations Brief and Minimal
When you’re speaking to an adjuster in any situation, try to keep conversations as brief and minimal as you can.
Provide basic information, such as contact and identifying information.
Don’t talk about the situation leading up to the accident or what you were doing beforehand. Don’t talk about your medical treatment or diagnosis, your medical expenses so far, or the time you’ve missed from work. Avoid talking about how the injuries are affecting your life as well.
Again, the more you say, the more your words can be twisted and used against you.
Too often when people are talking to an adjuster, they feel like they’re rude if they don’t answer questions.
That’s not the case, and you’re doing what’s best to protect yourself.
When a representative from an insurance company calls you, they are hoping you say things that will put the damages liability on your shoulders.
The more liable you are for your injuries, the less coverage they have to provide.
Even if you live in a state with personal injury protection (PIP) insurance requirements, admitting fault accidentally can mean you have to pay more in damages out of pocket.
Talk Only About Facts
Don’t make statements about what you think or feel when you speak to an insurance adjuster.
You don’t need to offer unsolicited information and details.
Just hold off on any personal interpretations of what happened.
Also, don’t provide concrete facts if you aren’t sure. If you can’t recall something specifically, it’s fine.
Don’t Admit Fault
Even if an accident was clearly your fault, don’t admit fault. In instances where the accident was your fault, there may still be mitigating factors.
The majority of accidents are caused, at least partially by both parties involved.
Don’t take the blame because then you’re more likely to get an increase in your insurance rates or a lower settlement.
During the investigation, fault can be determined, and you could be surprised by the outcome.
Don’t Say You Don’t Have a Lawyer
Even if you don’t yet have a lawyer, there’s no need to say that.
If you don’t have a lawyer, you should also really think about getting one. Having a lawyer on your side can help you avoid some of the landmines that come with working with insurance companies.
A lawyer will know how to communicate with them, and they’ll also understand laws guiding insurance companies.
A lawyer can determine the true value of a claim and then make sure that includes a consideration of present and future damages. For example, damages might not just include property damages and lost wages while you recover, but also loss of future earning potential, pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life.
None of the above tips mean that you should lie. You shouldn’t lie, and you should tell the truth when you’re working with insurance companies.
With that being said, you don’t need to go overboard with the information you provide.
Again, the more information you provide, the more negatively it might portray your situation.
A personal injury lawyer can provide you with guidance on what is appropriate versus inappropriate to say. Finally, never accept a settlement until you’ve spoken to a lawyer. There’s nothing you can do to go back if you later realize the settlement wasn’t fair or you aren’t happy with it. Offering a low settlement is a way for an insurance company to get your case closed out faster and less expensively.