The Do’s and Don’ts of Speaking with an Insurance Adjuster
Jan. 11, 2022
A driver runs through a red light and hits your car in the intersection. By the time you get home from the emergency room, the other driver’s insurance adjuster is calling. The adjuster sounds friendly and wants to ask you a few questions; however, if you give the insurance adjuster any information, it can be used against you. This is an insurance company's standard operating procedure following an accident, but you do not have to comply.
I have represented dozens of personal injury clients who have answered questions from insurance adjuster’s without an attorney and regretted doing so. An adjuster can be deceiving when acting helpful to you, but that is not always the case. Before you speak with an adjuster, get the legal guidance you need by calling me at The Thomas Law Firm, PLLC, in North Chesterfield, Virginia. I also proudly serve clients in Richmond, Henrico, and Petersburg, Virginia.
What Does an Insurance Adjuster Do?
The primary role of an insurance adjuster is to investigate, evaluate, and settle claims made against or by policyholders. Insurance adjusters are responsible for ensuring that the insurance policy does provide coverage for the accident and assign a value to a claim based on insurance industry standards. Adjusters also negotiate settlements and authorize payment of claims.
Insurance adjusters are the insurance company employees charged with making sure a claim is legitimate. Insurance adjusters want to talk to the person filing the claim, to the doctors providing medical treatment for injuries, and to witnesses. Adjusters will also examine reports by law enforcement and the claimant’s medical history.
Upon retaining a personal injury attorney, all communication, including that with the insurance adjuster, will go through your lawyer. That removes a lot of stress from your shoulders and allows you to focus on recovering from your injuries.
What Should I Do When the Adjuster Requests That I Make a Statement?
Your best response to an insurance adjuster’s request for an interview is to politely decline. There are three key reasons why you should refuse the invitation:
Even though you are not being charged with a crime, anything you say to the insurance adjuster can and will be used against you during settlement negotiations or at trial should you file a lawsuit. For example, if you admit any responsibility whatsoever, or refer to a prior injury related to the current injuries, the adjuster will use that against you.
The adjuster will use your information to assign some or all fault to you or to discount the severity of your injuries, then use such issues to devalue your claim and offer an unfair settlement.
Insurance adjusters are trained to ask questions in ways that solicit responses that can be used against you. For example, the adjuster will ask you the same question in multiple ways to use your answers against you. Likewise, an adjuster will ask contradictory questions that make it appear that your responses are inconsistent and therefore, unreliable.
What Should I Know If I Agree to an Interview?
If you choose to agree, there are six things you should do to protect your claim:
The first thing you must tell the adjuster is that you do not want the interview recorded. The adjuster should ask you for permission to record your statement, which you should refuse, but even if the adjuster does not ask, make it clear that you do not want it recorded.
Never admit guilt. Again, any amount of culpability you volunteer will be used to devalue or deny your claim.
Do not answer a question that you do not know the answer to in the slightest. Try your best to avoid, I guess, or I suppose during the interview and tell the adjuster you do not know the answer to the question.
Do not volunteer any more information than the question asked. This is difficult for most people to do because people want to fill awkward silences (which are intentional on the part of the adjuster) or go beyond the scope of the question. After all, you think it provides a complete answer. Perhaps you are asked a yes or no question, only answer yes, no, or I don’t know.
Keep the interview and your answers brief. Be succinct. Do not ramble, and avoid friendly conversation even if the adjuster is attempting to engage you in one. You can provide the adjuster with your name, address, and where you work but do not share any more information about yourself.
Once the interview is complete, the adjuster will send a statement to you in writing with a request that you sign off on it. Never sign anything without having it reviewed by a personal injury attorney first.
What Information Will the Adjuster Ask Me to Provide?
In addition to basic information such as your name, address, and employer, the adjuster will ask you about things such as conditions that might have contributed to the accident, witnesses, and your injuries. Bearing in mind the preceding, keep answers brief and volunteer no information about unaware situations, for example, your injuries. You may not know the full extent of your injuries at the time of the interview, tell the adjuster you are not sure of the full extent.
How Legal Counsel Can Help
After reading this information, the advantages of having your personal injury lawyer sitting next to you during the interview are beneficial. A personal injury attorney has the wisdom and experience to preserve the value of your personal injury claim.
I have the experience, knowledge, and advocacy you need to guide you through the process. If you have been injured in North Chesterfield, Virginia, call The Thomas Law Firm, PLLC, before speaking with an insurance adjuster. You will be glad you did. I also proudly serve clients in Richmond, Henrico, and Petersburg, Virginia.