Car accidents are an unwelcome event in anyone’s life and can add a sudden influx of stress as you try to figure out what to do next. You have to report the accident to your insurance company, which starts the process of a claim. Even minor accidents can be overwhelming, especially once an insurance adjuster gets involved.
The stress and uncertainty of the accident can lead to confusion and feelings of being overwhelmed. When the insurance adjuster calls to go over the specifics, you may feel unprepared and pressured into answering their questions.
However, handling an auto accident does not have to be unbearable. Having a plan for when the insurance adjuster calls can help ease the pressure and successfully prepare you for the conversation.
What should you say? What should you not say? Below is a useful guide to help you navigate through the process.
You may feel nervous when talking with an insurance adjuster, but make sure you have a pen and paper at hand whenever you’re speaking to someone about your accident. Pressure or stress can make it harder to keep track of what they are saying or remember the details, so taking notes will help you focus your mind and recall important information later. The focused activity of taking notes can also help calm your nerves and give you time to think more about your responses.
Include the name and number of the adjuster and the time and date of the call in your notes, as well as important details about the conversation. You may need to talk to the adjuster again or reference these facts later. An adjuster will often record your conversation, so keeping a written account helps keep facts straight. It also safeguards you in case they try to claim you said something you did not.
When dealing with the uncertainty and stress of an auto accident, it can be easy to become defensive. Remember, it’s important to stay calm when talking with the adjuster and to maintain a respectful tone. This will ultimately help you, as the adjuster may be more responsive or sympathetic to your situation if you are calm and polite.
Remember, these preliminary questions are routine and they are just doing their job. The questions may feel like they are targeting or blaming you, but the adjuster’s job is just to collect information. It does not mean they are automatically assuming fault. Remaining calm and respectful can help the whole process be cooperative and come to a more favorable outcome.
Accidents can leave you feeling rattled and plagued by “what-if” scenarios. It’s a natural reaction to assume fault, thinking of all the ways you could have avoided the accident and what you could have done differently. This can be true even if the accident was not your fault.
If there is shared liability, you may be tempted to shoulder all the blame. These feelings of guilt don’t mean the accident was your fault or that the other party involved was not equally at fault.
Avoid giving in to these guilty feelings when talking to the insurance adjuster, and be careful not to say, “I am sorry.” Apologizing can be misinterpreted as admitting fault for the accident. Doing so could be used against you, making you liable for the accident and providing a reason for the insurance company to refuse fair cover of damages and repairs.
One helpful way to not admit fault is by limiting the details you provide to the insurance adjuster. It’s important to answer truthfully, but you do not need to provide information beyond what they are asking. Keep your answers simple and brief, without unnecessary detail.
Insurance companies have their own interests in mind and may attempt to minimize the amount they will cover for your accident. Unnecessary details that you provide could be used against you, with the company citing them as a reason for fault and therefore limiting the amount they will cover.
If the adjuster asks you for details you are uncertain of, do not feel pressured to answer. It’s okay to say, “I don’t know,” or, “I don’t recall.” Saying you don’t know or remember certain information is better than guessing and answering vaguely. Only admit to details you know for sure.
If you need time to think about the answer, tell them. It’s okay to take your time and get back to the adjuster. If you need to call back for any reason, that’s okay as well. The best way to answer their questions is truthfully, and if you need to take a moment to think or call back when it is more convenient, speak up.
One way to ensure you have someone on your side in an auto accident is to seek counsel from an experienced attorney. The insurance adjuster has their company’s best interests in mind, while an attorney will have yours. They also have experience in discussing legal matters and how to best approach any and all questions from the adjuster, guiding it to a more favorable outcome.
An attorney can talk to the adjuster on your behalf and handle the negotiation. Protect yourself and ease any pressures by allowing your experienced lawyer to field calls and answer questions. They can counsel you as well as offer advice on how to proceed. They will have experience working with insurance companies and can effectively strive toward the best resolution possible for you.
It’s especially important to consider representation if you feel pressured by the adjuster to settle and settle quickly. They are handling many cases at a time and will want to proceed quickly. Hire an attorney to represent your interests and mediate negotiations or settlements on your behalf. Make sure to hire a personal injury attorney before talking with the adjuster.
Contact the expert team at Warren Allen LLP in Portland, Oregon, for solid legal advice and exceptional services. We work hard to seek the best resolution possible. Insurance companies often try to minimize compensation, or how much they will cover. Legal representation is beneficial to prevent this. Contact our firm for advice and learn what your options are. Our team can be your team.