Here comes the insurance adjuster. Is he overly friendly? If so, watch out! It's OK to be hospitable. Be good-tempered and cordial - - but beware! Never forget he's paid to save his company as much money as he can. That's the name of his game.
DON'T SIGN ANYTHING: Don't overestimate the good will of the adjuster. They're trained to investigate accident cases in such a way, if at all possible, to make their insured look good. Many unsuspecting individuals fall prey to the adjuster who seeks to protect his company's pocketbook at the expense of a legitimate claimant.
If a company calls you and suggests they take your statement over the telephone, tell them you would prefer to meet with an adjuster. Don't agree to dictate a verbal statement into a tape recorder over the phone, and certainly not when you're in the presence of an adjuster. Don't sign a statement when you meet with him. Whatever the circumstance may be, advise whomever you're dealing with that you'll be more than willing to provide a signed statement, after your claim has been settled.
HOW TO PROCEED WITH THE ADJUSTER: Be pleasant, but firm. No matter how much in the wrong the person is that hit you, no matter how they acted at the scene of the accident, and no matter what they may have verbalized to or at you, don't take it out on the adjuster. It's not the adjuster's fault if his insured is an idiot.
You must never underestimate the importance of the adjuster's impressions and conclusions, all of which go into your file. What he feels and reports about you have a great influence on the final disposition of your claim. If he likes you that's money in the bank. On the other hand, if he gets upset with you he has the ability to twist the facts to make you look bad. Once that's been done, it will be set in cement, go into your file and, without you're ever being aware of it and haunt you to the last dollar of your settlement.
THE ADJUSTERS CLAIM LOAD: The job performance of insurance adjusters is judged not only on how little of the company's money they spend in settlements, but also on how quickly they settle the claims assigned to them. They're constantly under pressure to settle your claim; to get rid of it and move on. The adjuster will never tell you, but the weight of their caseload comes down on your side of the scale. It's an advantage people are never aware of.
THE ADJUSTERS SETTLEMENT AUTHORITY: The Adjuster's authority to settle claims on their own is restricted on how much experience they have. For a less experienced adjuster, perhaps $5,000 to $10,000, but for a more experienced adjuster, their settlement authority may go as high as $20,000. When bigger bucks are involved they usually have to be given permission to settle the case from their immediate supervisor.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Don't let a sweet talking insurance adjuster manipulate you into feeling good about your relationship with him and the eventual outcome of your claim. In the vast majority of instances that's not the way you should play the game because if provided with the opportunity, they'll almost always take advantage of you. That's a fact of life. Know and understand that they're only doing their job. Their assignment is to save money for the company who signs their paychecks - - no matter what it takes.
If you have a legitimate claim stay cool and understand what you're up against. Don't be impossible to deal with, but remain steady. Remember that the adjuster wants to look good to his company. He doesn't want your claim to end up in court, plus he wants to reduce his caseload. Be patient. At the end of the day, after the dust has settled, he'll be forced to do the right thing.
DISCLAIMER: The only purpose of this claim tip is to help people understand the motor vehicle accident claim process. Neither Dan Baldyga nor (name of magazine/newsletter and/or web site) make any guarantee of any kind whatsoever; NOR to substitute for a lawyer, an insurance adjuster, or claims consultant, or the like. Where such professional help is desired it is the INDIVIDUAL'S RESPONSIBILITY to obtain said services.
Dan Baldyga's latest book AUTO ACCIDENT PERSONAL INJURY INSURANCE CLAIM (How To Evaluate And Settle Your Loss) can be found on the internet at his web site http://www.autoaccidentclaims.com or visit your favoite bookstore.
Copyright (c) 2002 Daniel G. Baldyga. All rights reserved.
About The Author
For 30 years Dan Baldyga was a claims adjuster, supervisor, manager and also a trial assistant. He is now retired and spends his time attempting to assist those involved in motor vehicle accident claims so they will not be taken advantage of.