It may surprise you to discover that an insurance company is not on your side and is, in fact, looking for the first chance to take advantage of you during a claim. Even if you never missed a premium payment, the insurer will want to avoid paying you the amount that you deserve for a covered incident. Insurance corporations are for-profit businesses that are more concerned with their bottom lines than their clients. Use these tips to protect your rights and get a fair offer from an insurance company.
Do Not Trust the Claims Adjuster
An insurance claims adjuster is someone who is hired by the insurance company or a third party to assess a claim. This is the person you will most often be speaking to about your claim. Their job is to investigate your claim, review the information and documents that you submitted, and make a recommendation to the insurance company to either accept or reject the claim. The adjuster will also recommend an amount to offer you to settle the claim.
A key thing to keep in mind during conversations with the claims adjuster is that he or she does not have your best interests in mind. The adjuster is hired to save the insurance company as much money as possible on your claim. Even if the adjuster sounds friendly, do not fall for their tactics. Take your financial recovery into your own hands by knowing how to negotiate with the adjuster.
Do Not Give a Recorded Statement
Early after you file a claim – sometimes, the same day as the accident – the adjuster will request a recorded statement from you. This is a tactic used to try to get you to say something that the company can use against you later, such as that your injuries are minor, that you feel fine or that you might have contributed to the accident. Do not agree to give the insurance adjuster a recorded statement. Instead, say that you will submit a written statement, even if the adjuster says they need the statement now to continue processing your claim.
Keep Your Answers Short and Simple
The insurance adjuster will ask you questions about your accident and injuries. Keep your answers as short as possible. Do not give away more information than is necessary to answer the question. If you don’t know the answer to a question, say that you don’t know. Do not make a guess or speculate, especially when it comes to fault for your accident. Do not answer any questions about your injuries until you have seen a doctor. For more tips, read this article on what not to say to an insurance company.
Don’t Jump to Accept the First Settlement Offer
Many claimants do not know they have the power to reject the first settlement offered by an insurance company. Insurance companies take advantage of this fact by intentionally making their first offers low. Oftentimes, the first settlement is lower than the claim deserves and inadequate for the extent of the damage involved.
Rather than jumping to accept the first settlement, wait and enter into negotiations for a higher amount. This is especially important if you suffered catastrophic injuries, as they may require expensive future medical care. Do not sign anything sent to you by the insurance company until consulting with an attorney – especially a release of liability waiver.
Hire an Attorney
While you may be eager to resolve your insurance claim and receive a settlement check, it is important to speak to a personal injury lawyer about your case first. An attorney is someone that you can trust to give you an honest opinion about the value of your claim. If an insurance company is refusing to offer a reasonable settlement, your attorney can negotiate with the adjuster for you or take your personal injury case to court, if necessary, to fight for a fair outcome. An attorney can protect your rights throughout the claims process.