5 Things You May Not Know About Insurance Adjusters
June 20, 2018
The first step to recovering for your losses after a car accident in California is typically to file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Your case will then be assigned to an insurance adjuster, who has the job of assessing and trying to resolve your claim. Many car accident victims deal with insurance adjusters without a second thought. However, there are some important points to remember during the claim process.
1. Adjusters will pretend they are on your side.
When an insurance adjuster first calls you, they will likely seem very sympathetic to your situation and your injuries. They can seem concerned and promise you they will help you in any way they can. While it is always nice to speak with someone who cares, it is important to stay objective in this situation and realize the adjuster wants you to trust them. Remember, however, that the insurance company is determined to reduce payouts and the adjuster has the same goal. In fact, many insurance companies reward employees for successfully limiting claims. For this reason, the adjuster is most certainly not on your side.
If an adjuster successfully gains your trust, they can use that position to assure you that you do not need an attorney – after all, they are on your side, so why would you need any additional help? Insurance companies know that claimants who have legal representation recover higher verdicts and settlements, so an adjuster will work to convince you that a lawyer is unnecessary and will only take a portion of your claim settlement. Resist trusting the adjuster, remind yourself that they work for the insurance company and not for you, and contact an attorney as soon as you can.
2. Adjusters will minimize your claim.
As you talk to an adjuster, they may make seemingly offhand comments about your injuries or your losses. Often, these comments may be intended to convince that your injuries are not as bad as they seem. For example, an adjuster may mention that a family member had a similar injury and was “just fine.” You may think they are trying to reassure you that you will be okay, however, they may be trying to get your to say that your injuries are not serious. By trying to minimize your claim, an adjuster is preparing you to accept a lower offer than you deserve. If you believe the costs of your injuries and future medical bills are lower than reality, you may be more willing to accept a lowball offer despite the true value of your losses.
3. They will try to get you to agree to a recorded statement.
Adjusters will often ask that claimants answer questions while being recorded. They do this to memorialize what you say and use your comments against you later. For instance, if the adjuster ask how you are, and you say you’re feeling “fine” just out of politeness, the adjuster may later use this to challenge your claim that you suffered serious, painful injuries. Too many people say things that may be interpreted to the detriment of their claim without even realizing it.
Know that you are never obligated to give a recorded statement to an adjuster. In fact, you should never answer detailed questions from an adjuster. Instead, contact our attorneys who will handle all communications for you to prevent any unintentional statements against your interests.
4. They do not necessarily have discretion in calculating your payout.
Insurance adjusters will try to ask you many questions about your injuries and how you feel. You may go into detail about your pain and suffering, how much the injury has affected your life, and much more. Because the adjuster seems sympathetic, you may think they will take all of your pain and suffering into consideration when deciding how much to offer you.
In reality, many insurance companies do not rely solely on adjusters to calculate claims, but instead on software called Colossus. The adjuster plugs your information into the program and Colossus calculates a range for your settlement. The adjuster often has little discretion to stray from that range.
5. They will make a low offer.
Insurance companies are businesses and all businesses want to increase their profits. In order to do so, insurers have to limit how much they pay claimants whenever possible. You can be sure this is also the goal of adjusters. As mentioned, insurance companies often examine how much each adjuster reduced claims and rewards them with bonuses or other perks. Employees reported that Farmers Insurance even threw pizza parties for adjusters who met goals – low goals. In addition, adjusters are supposed to try to resolve claims as fast as possible in addition to as little as possible.
The initial offer from an insurance adjuster will likely be much less than you deserve. An adjuster can try to convince you to accept the offer – after all, it is quick money in your pocket. You may also believe you have no other option but to accept what was offered. Accepting any offer without first having an experienced car accident attorney review it can be a huge mistake. Once you agree to an amount, you lose the right to request additional payment once you realized the full extent of your losses. A lawyer can calculate the amount you deserve and keep negotiating, including filing a personal injury lawsuit when needed.
Call Our Orange County Car Accident Attorneys as Soon as Possible
Dealing with auto insurance claims can be significantly more complicated than you may imagine. Insurance companies are in the business of fighting liability and adjusters have many tactics to get injured accident victims to accept far lower than the amounts justice requires. If you need to file a claim, call the law office of Aitken Aitken Cohn. We handle the entire insurance claim process for clients and we can advise you of your rights. Call today at 714-434-1424 or contact us online.