The moments after a car accident can be quite a whirlwind. There are potential injuries from the crash, the other driver to deal with, and the damage to your vehicle. One aspect that may not be at the top of your mind is the inevitable call from an insurance adjuster.
Oftentimes an insurance adjuster will call you right after the accident. It’s important to be well informed and know your rights before speaking openly with them. Many insurance adjusters will come across as friendly and may even send over a Customer Service Pledge. They may say anything they can to convince you that they’re on your side and that your case will be handled fairly. Keep in mind that you’re entitled to ask them questions and you’re entitled to certain information.
The Insurance Adjuster Call
As much as we want to believe that insurance companies have our best interests at heart, it’s important to remember that they are a company. That means that their goal is profit, and they won’t be rushing to pay you. Insurance companies are very knowledgeable about the pertaining laws and they know how to try and minimize the value of a claim. The other person involved in the accident is their client, so that’s the person they will prioritize.
While you may not receive all the information you want with the following questions, they have a secondary purpose. Asking these questions, inspired by Don Jacobs of NW Injury Law Center, should give you insight into how this insurance company operates and how cooperative they will be during this process. You don’t need to be rude, but you should know your legal rights and protect yourself.
1. “Will the other driver admit fault for the accident?”
This is an important first question. Most accidents are clearly the fault of one party or the other, but you should never admit fault. That will cease the investigation and put the entire financial burden on you, even if the other driver was partially at fault.
If the accident was the fault of the other driver, the insurance company should admit that. If they do, ask for it in writing. If they don’t, and you know the accident was their fault, this could be a red flag.
2. “How much insurance coverage does your driver carry?”
Depending on the state where your accident occurred, there may be a law requiring that this information be available to you. You’ll want to know whether or not their policy covers your damages, such as medical bills and vehicle repairs. If a lawsuit ends up being filed, you will be entitled to a complete copy of their insurance policy anyway, so you may as well ask for it up front. Again, request a written copy.
3. “Can I have a copy of the recording you took from the other driver?”
If you let the insurance adjuster record your version of the accident, then you should request the other driver’s statement as well. They should allow you to be on equal footing, and if they don’t, this could be a red flag.
In general, however, it’s best to not provide a recorded statement. Even if you are not at fault, you never know how they could try and use your statement against you down the road.
4. “Will you pay for my car to be repaired to manufacturer’s specifications?”
Economy parts, or aftermarket parts, are parts not made by your car’s original equipment manufacturer (OEM). These knock off brands can lower your car’s value and even make it unsafe on the road due to poor quality. Insurance companies save millions of dollars by working with body shops that agree to use aftermarket parts. Make sure your car isn’t repaired that way by requesting high quality parts. Again, always get the insurer’s response in writing.
5. “Will you pay for my medical bills and lost wages?”
If the blame for the accident clearly lies with the other driver, the insurance company should pay for your medical bills and lost wages. If they won’t, this could be an important red flag that they intend to dispute these items later.
Consult a Personal Injury Lawyer
Besides asking the questions above, the best thing you can do after a car accident is provide minimal information and contact an experienced car accident attorney. If the insurance adjuster tries to convince you not to consult a lawyer, this is yet another red flag. They don’t want you to get all of the legal knowledge they have and level the playing field, but this is exactly why you should. They may use scare tactics such as telling you that you’ll end up having to pay your lawyer a large chunk of your settlement, but that’s a lie. According to Allstate Insurance themselves, those who filed car accident claims using an attorney received 2 to 3 times more compensation than those who didn’t. Ironically, the more the insurance adjuster protests your decision to call a lawyer, the more you probably need one.