If you are injured in an automobile accident, you will likely be contacted by an insurance adjuster, whose job is to gather information about the collision and get you to accept his company’s offer of settlement as compensation for your injury.
Unfortunately, insurance adjusters work for insurance companies, not you, and their purpose might be to deny, delay, and avoid paying your claim, or pay you the least amount possible. There are certain types of information that adjusters typically try to get from you to help keep the value of your claim down, but you are under no obligation to provide it:
You don’t have to tell an insurance adjuster your life story. You’re not obligated to provide any personal information other than your name, address, and telephone number. You should keep the initial conversation with the insurance adjuster brief and to the point. You can tell them where you’re employed and what type of work you do, but be careful not to explain or discuss any details about your specific duties or your income.
A recorded statement
If an insurance company is asking for your recorded statement, you should always verify whether it is your insurer or the other driver’s company. Although you may be legally obligated to cooperate with your own insurer, most of the time, you are not required to provide a recorded statement to the at-fault driver’s insurance company. If you have retained or are about to retain an attorney, the insurance company must communicate directly with them, so if they ask you for a recorded statement, provide them with your attorney’s phone number instead.
Details about the accident
If pressed, politely refuse to discuss any facts of the accident. Tell the adjuster that you would rather not disclose any facts, even those as basic as where and when it happened, the type of accident it was, and the vehicles involved. Instead, tell them you will be willing to discuss the facts further at a more appropriate time.
It is unwise to give an insurance adjuster a detailed description of your injuries, especially immediately following the accident. You might leave something out, discover an injury later on, or an injury you thought was minor might turn into something serious several weeks or months later.
Advise the adjuster that you’ll be seeking or continuing medical treatment, but according to NOLO, there’s no law that says you have to tell an insurance company what doctors or medical providers you’re seeing, so don’t provide that information, at least not initially.
Also, you don’t have to agree to be examined by a doctor chosen by the insurance company unless your claim actually becomes a formal court case, at which time your attorney will advise you as to whether or not you need to submit to the request.
Your entire medical history
In order to assess your damages, the insurance adjuster will likely request your medical record, including accident-related information as well as any prior and unrelated history that might allow them to reduce or deny your claim. You should consult with a personal injury attorney before agreeing to release your medical record to anyone, since an attorney will typically put limits on how much medical information needs to be disclosed.
The easiest way to protect your rights when dealing with an insurance adjuster is to retain a personal injury attorney, and then politely instruct the insurance company representative to contact your lawyer with their questions. Your lawyer will know what you’re required to answer and provide, and will have your best interests in mind, not those of the insurance company.
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