Can Your Trust Your Claim Adjuster?
Imagine cruising down Main Street and as you cross an intersection a car broadsides you. Your car spins sideways and the airbag is triggered. Your car has extensive damage and you end up in the hospital for minor injuries. The next few weeks or months are going to be spent dealing with car repairs, hospital bills and insurance claims. Behind all of this will be a claims adjuster, and how you deal with them could determine if you are fairly reimbursed for your repair and medical bills.
What is a Claims Adjuster?
Auto claims adjusters can work independently for a number of insurance companies or attached to a single insurance company. They investigate the facts of an accident and approve or decline a claim. If a claim is to be paid they will determine the amount offered for your car or medical bills. Claim adjusters inspect your car, take photos and review police reports to determine if they will honor a claim. While the majority of adjusters are honest people just doing their jobs, its important to remember that the insurance company signs their paychecks and their number one goal is to settle claims as inexpensively as possible.
How to Deal With an Adjuster
There are many ways that you can help an adjuster pay out less than you deserve. Knowing how to handle your dealings with an adjuster can make a big difference in your claim check.
Review Your Policy – Before meeting with an adjuster be sure to review your policy and have a full understanding of the coverage it offers. Familiarize yourself with sections involving claims and your rights in the claim process. Does your policy allow you to hire your own adjuster?
Shut Up – When dealing with an adjuster it is best not to admit fault or give anything other than the bare minimum details. If you end up fighting the settlement offer and find yourself in court these initial statements can end up hurting your case. Do not discuss the specifics of your injuries and do not allow them to access your full medical records.
Be Polite and Take Notes – Getting angry and abusive has never helped a claims negotiation. Stay calm and polite. When dealing with an adjuster be sure to take notes. Get the name of everyone you talk to and who they are representing. Keep all of these notes in a file which you may need if you end up in court.
Never Take the First Offer – A quick settlement may sound great, but it could end up costing you a fortune. Adjusters often get a bonus if they settle cases quickly. Don’t pad their paycheck. Never settle quickly and don’t take their first offer. While you may feel fine after an accident, a week later you may find you have been injured or your injuries are much more extensive than you first thought. If you have signed a settlement offer you could find yourself on the hook for your medical bills.
The same goes for a car settlement. Start gathering comparative car values as soon as you can. Be prepared to negotiate with the adjuster if you are not happy with the settlement offer. Request that they only use the top five comparatives which can raise the average value, raising your payout.
Avoid Preferred Shops – Every adjuster has a preferred repair shop that they will try to steer you to if your car is being repaired. Politely decline and take it to the shop of your choice. Preferred shops will often repair a car to the insurers specifications, which might not be in your best interest.
Be sure that you read and understand any paperwork before signing it. Be patient and do your research when dealing with an auto insurance claim. If your injuries are extensive you may want to consider hiring a lawyer. Arming yourself with these tips should help you get the best settlement possible.