how to handle evaluators after an accident
Insurance companies often have a bad reputation. They’re the ones you call after you’ve been in a car accident or motorcycle accident.
Imagine: Your car is totaled, you’re injured, and you know you’ll be out of a job for at least a few weeks. As you’re being transported to the hospital, you keep yelling at the ems tech, “Take pictures of the car! take pictures of the car! I need evidence for my insurance claim!”
Many people are not so clear-headed after an accident.
also, they face the dreaded phone call from the insurance company as if they were contacting an ex-boyfriend. this company is between you and your money. Of course they are going to try to trick you, swindle you in some way, to take advantage of the fact that you don’t know your policy inside and out.
Insurance companies aren’t really that bad.
Most of them just want their claim processed as quickly as possible due to the sheer volume they have to handle on a daily basis. Although an insurance company is a for-profit entity, it does not exist to complicate your life. With a little preparation, your relationship with the insurance company can be smooth.
calling your insurance company
This phone call may occur after you have received treatment for medical injuries and have been cleared by a physician. it can even happen the next day. you’ll want to have a copy of your policy in front of you and you’ll want to have reviewed it before you make the call. make sure you know what specifically your “coverage” and “exclusions” are.
This is your chance to act like a lawyer, if you ever felt like going to law school or acting like District Attorney Jack McCoy from the perennial TV show, Law & organize. The purpose of this call is to illustrate the value of your claim and describe all of your expenses. your adjuster knows everything that is in your file; what you have to do now is justify whatever number you come up with to make sure it’s consistent with your coverage. for example, you won’t get a million dollar payout with just basic liability coverage.
remember the golden rule: treat others as you want to be treated yourself. Unless this person is passionate about insurance, chances are it’s just a job for him. he doesn’t want to be yelled at. be nice and courteous, and he will be nice and courteous to you. if he is well prepared with documentation of it, he will be even nicer.
Your adjuster will review your policy and determine how much money you are entitled to. Your main concern is to make sure your settlement offer is consistent with your policy. As such, providing you with the documentation to increase your settlement will not only help your situation, but will also help the claim to be processed faster.
negotiate with the adjuster
this can be scary. Your adjuster might try tactics like bullying him, using words he doesn’t understand, or saying he needs to check with his bosses before agreeing to anything.
This is what you need to do:
- illustrate the circumstances of the accident. I painted a picture for the adjuster: he was driving his car, following all the rules of the road. you were wearing your seat belt. elaborate on what is in the police report. describe the negligence of the other driver. talk about road conditions and weather. Mention your insurance coverage and show how it applies very clearly to this type of situation. this shows that you are an informed customer and that you understand the value of your claim.
- describe your expenses so far and what you expect your total claim to be for your accident claim. the adjuster might end the conversation and say, “alright, that’s a pretty big number, bucko. I have to talk to the superiors. don’t give in this is your life we’re talking about. he is trying to break your momentum and intimidate you into settling for less. Also, he may not contact you for a day or two. As long as you have documentation to support the number you applied for, your application should not be considered unreasonable.
- Your insurance company will probably come back with a counter offer. submit any additional information you think will help your claim. make sure not to be stubborn about this; they may not reach the number you have in mind. think of a minimum number that you are willing to accept. reduce your claim little by little until the adjuster raises enough for you to be satisfied.
- Try not to react emotionally or take the adjuster’s actions personally. you are just doing your job and trying to save the company money. remember: don’t shoot the courier.
- once you have agreed on a number, the adjuster will send you a release form for you to sign. that is all! Make sure your outstanding medical bills have been taken care of and that you are adequately compensated by this settlement, because once you’ve signed the release form, you can’t change your mind.
what if I get stuck in negotiations?
sometimes adjusters are totally immovable. they have instructions from their superiors and, dammit, they are not going to budge.
Despite this setback, you still have a few options. you can talk to the adjuster’s supervisor, for example. This can sometimes backfire, as the superior usually has the same instructions as the adjuster. however, talking to a different person can put a new spin on the situation. sometimes the threat of talking to someone’s boss is enough to get you out of the mud.
You may also hire an attorney. A car accident attorney is well versed in dealing with insurance companies and handles all correspondence from then on; in effect, you cut off all communication with the adjuster. The attorney will let you know if the claim offer is in the right ballpark and you can proceed with outstanding bills, negotiate a larger settlement, and make sure he receives good compensation. then you can focus on healing.
what happens if my claim is denied?
This is another case where you may want an attorney. however, you’ll first want to gather all the documentation you have regarding the claim: every medical bill, repair estimates, proof of damage, prescription receipts, and anything else that’s relevant.
Because insurance adjusters live and die by paper evidence, you need to provide as much as you can. it is quite possible that the adjuster simply did not have the evidence he needed to approve the claim or that what he did have was inaccurate. What you can try to do is write a letter that illustrates how the documents support your car claim and why your settlement should be approved. this can sometimes be enough for the adjuster to approve your claim.
If you still need help dealing with an insurance adjuster, consider checking out the enjuris law firm directory!