Getting in a car accident is a miserable experience. Even if you don’t get hurt in the collision, you can expect weeks and possibly even months of stress and hassle. The primary source of this stress is usually the car insurance company and their adjuster. Whether it is your own insurance company or the other driver’s carrier, negotiating a settlement in a claim with an insurance adjuster can be a frustrating ordeal.
Most insurance adjusters come across as very friendly. This often causes people to let their guard down and get lulled into thinking the adjuster is there to help you. They are NOT there to help you. The adjuster is there to resolve your claim quickly and at the lowest possible cost to the company. Below are some tricky tactics that insurance adjusters often use to save money on your claim while making you feel like they are doing you a favor.
Getting You to Accept a Lowball Initial Settlement Offer
The lowball initial settlement offer is most common “trick” that auto insurance companies employ in an effort to save money at your expense. Here is how this tactic usually works. You get in an accident with major damage to your car and you suffer some minor physical injuries. Nothing scary, just some whiplash and a shoulder sprain, but you miss 2 weeks of work and have to go to physical therapy for 3 months.
The other driver was at-fault, but he has the same insurance company as you. You’ve been in regular contact with the insurance adjuster, Jenny, since the day of the accident. Jenny has been very friendly and seems to feel genuine concern for you and your situation. She even asks about your kids and stuff when you talk to her. Jenny assures you that the insurance will cover all your expenses and you kind of trust her. When you finish your physical therapy treatment and submit all the bills and paperwork, you are confident that Jenny will take care of everything.
When Jenny finally gets back to you with a settlement offer, it is very disappointing. Not only is it less than what you expected, the settlement offer barely covers all of your medical expenses. You call Jenny to ask what gives. She assures you that this is a “fair settlement offer.” She wishes she could give you more, but Jenny claims that this is the most that the insurance company is willing to pay. Jenny convinces you to accept the offer.
The truth is that Jenny’s settlement offer was only about 25% of what you were really entitled to receive. Jenny saved the insurance company thousands of dollars … at your expense. This is what is referred to as a lowball initial settlement offer. Initially, settlement offers are almost always drastically lower than what the case is actually worth.
Getting You to Give a Recorded Statement
Another common trick insurance adjusters use is convincing claimants to give a recorded statement shortly after the accident. The adjuster usually has a very polished method of talking claimants into doing this. Sometimes they make it seem like it is an obligation. Other times they go with a softer approach and imply that a recorded statement will only help your claim get settled faster.
Neither of these claims are true. Claimants in an auto accident insurance claim do not have any obligation to provide recorded statements to an insurance company after an accident. If you tell them no, there is nothing that they can do about it. Don’t let them convince you that it will “help” your claim. If the other driver was at fault, there is absolutely no benefit to giving a recorded statement to his insurance company. It will only give them something to use against you later on.
Delaying the Claims Process
Sometimes, insurance adjusters will deliberately stall the processing of your claim at every possible juncture. The goal is to make you question the validity of your claim and get your discouraged and impatient. The hope is that you will eventually just give up and accept whatever lowball settlement offer they eventually make. This can be an effective tactic.
The best way to handle an adjuster who seems to be intentionally dragging their feet is to retain a car accident lawyer to handle your claim. If you don’t have a lawyer, the claim adjuster will probably feel like they can delay indefinitely. There is not much you can do about it. Bringing in a lawyer immediately steps up the pressure to resolve the claim to avoid litigation. If fact, most good personal injury lawyers who come into this situation will probably want to file a lawsuit right away. Insurance companies become much faster and more reasonable the minute suit is filed.
Contact Our Auto Accident Attorneys About Your Claim
If you are having trouble handling your auto accident claim, our experienced car accident lawyers can help. Contact us today for a free consultation or call 800-553-8082.