When you find yourself in a car accident, often all you want is for the whole thing to be over. Some people are willing to do whatever it takes to take care of it, even if it means rushing through all the important details so they can simply move on with their lives. That’s not always the smartest way to go about it. Especially in regards to working through your insurance claim. Whether you’re speaking with the other driver’s insurance company or even your own, here are 5 tips for navigating the fine line of what to say and what not to say.
1. Just say no. For now.
If you have been in an accident, it is strongly recommended that you consult with an attorney before providing a recorded statement to any insurance adjuster including the adjuster for your own insurance company. This recommendation applies especially if you are injured or feeling sore following your accident.
Even though you may be obligated to give a recorded statement to your own insurance provider, you are not required to give a recorded statement to the other driver’s insurance company.
Many insurance adjusters are trained to save the company money by asking strategic, scripted questions that can get you to open up about certain aspects of the accident, phrase your statement in a damaging way, etc. They’re basically skilled negotiators and can potentially catch you saying what wasn’t intended, but what they want to hear.
2. Be cool and calm.
The better you keep your cool, the easier the experience will be.
If you do give a statement to the insurance adjuster on the phone, recorded or not, it is strongly recommended that you stay calm and simply, be nice. Politely but firmly decline the insurance adjuster’s request to record your account of what happened. Tell him or her that you are not comfortable with recording, and that when your information is complete, you will provide your official statement in writing.
3. You have the right to remain silent.
When speaking to the insurance adjuster you really are only required to give a limited amount of personal information. It is fine to share your name, address, and phone number, etc. It is also no problem describing what you do for a living and sharing the name of your employer, how long you’ve worked there, that sort of thing. You should not, however, share too much else. Instead, consult with an attorney before doing so.
Insurance adjusters may formally ask you to describe what happened, or they may keep it more casual and conversational – but this is a tactic to get you to open up and share as much as possible. Keep your statement limited to only the high level facts, such as who, where, what and when.
4. Don’t rush.
Remember how you just want this whole experience to be over as quickly as possible? Well, don’t rush to settle the claim with the insurance adjuster too quickly. It is an essential part of their job to offer you a settlement during your first couple phone conversations. When they can get the claim through and all the details ironed out right away it usually saves the insurance company money.
Most importantly though, you risk settling before knowing the full extent of your injuries. How often have you heard of someone getting in an accident and feeling fine at first and then a few days later they feel pain? It’s a common occurrence that injuries from bad collisions can take time to manifest fully. The point? You may have just settled for too little and won’t be covered for the extent of your condition. It will be tempting to settle early, but you may end up paying more out of pocket in the end.
You may also be pressured pretty hard to give a recorded statement right away, claiming that whoever makes the statement first is better protected. This isn’t true. You also want to be aware that when pressured like this, you may not give the most accurate or calm account of what really took place. Instead of a detailed and true statement you may end up with unintentionally leaving out a key detail, or certain aspects of your claim. The concept of being recorded often causes all of us to act and speak differently. This is a big reason why a written statement is a better way to go.
5. Know what’s expected of you.
Adjusters may tell that you are required to give a recorded statement. Before just accepting their word for it and doing so, you do have the right to ask your adjuster to provide you with a copy of your policy or the other driver’s policy and show you specifically where in the contract that you signed that it does actually say that.
Although we do not recommend that you give a recorded statement to an insurance adjuster before consulting with an attorney, if you choose to do so, it is very important that you provide an accurate history to the insurance adjuster. Insurance companies are always looking for reasons to deny claims or minimize the value of claims.
At the end of the day, you should not give a recorded statement to an insurance representative without the guidance and counsel of an attorney. If you do deny the representative’s request, be courteous but firm. No matter how amiable they may seem on the phone, don’t forget that they are employees, and represent the insurance company’s interests, and not yours.
If you have any more questions about this topic or any other personal injury issue, please call us at 407-841-7699. Plus, keep checking our blog, LIKE us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter at @whdjustice for more helpful hints and to always be informed about your rights.