Insurance Adjusters are not on Your Side
As a St. Petersburg personal injury attorney, I have grown accustomed to the garden variety of tricks utilized by insurance carriers. We have all seen commercials for insurance companies claiming to be “on your side” and they will be there for you in your time of need “like a good neighbor.”. When you are involved in an accident and report your claim to the insurance carrier, the company will send a licensed adjuster to evaluate the value of your claim. While these adjusters may appear friendly and professional, it is important to remember whose side the adjuster is really on.
Adjusters are employed by insurance companies. As such, their one and only job is to settle your claim as quickly and cheaply as possible so that they can save money for their employer. In order to accomplish their goal of a quick and inexpensive resolution to your case, adjusters often employ a wide array of misleading tactics in an effort to trick you into taking a lower settlement amount than you deserve. Here, we explore a few of the tricks adjusters keep up their sleeves.
Little to no Communication With the Insurance Adjuster
As you begin your claim process, you will have a lot of questions: Who can I speak regarding my claim? Will my vehicle be repaired? Can I get a rental car? Should I seek medical treatment? While an adjuster may be able to answer some of these questions, you may experience difficult time getting in contact with your adjuster. A typical Claims Adjuster handles approximately 150 cases at a time. With such a heavy workload, it can be difficult to get someone on the phone that can help you. But sometimes, the break in communication with your adjuster can be more than just a workload issue. In fact, it may be strategic.
Oftentimes, Adjusters will fail to answer or return your phone calls in hopes that you will get so frustrated, you will simply give up. They deal with the claim process akin to a war of attrition. Once the injured party reaches a breaking point, the adjuster knows that it will be easier to sell them on a low-ball offer so they can just put the whole event behind them and move on.
There have even been cases where the injured party has received little to no communication from the adjuster and then one day, out of the blue, a check arrives in the mail. In this case, the injured party- believing the small check is the only money they are able to recover from the claim- cashes the check and just like that, the claim is settled and the adjuster can close his or her file. Meanwhile, the injured party is stuck with only a minimal amount of money to put towards vehicle repair, rental car expenses, lost wages, and ever-growing medical bills.
Adjusters are also always aware of the statute of limitations on your claim. After an accident, there is a limit to how long you have to file a lawsuit to recover for your loss. If your claim has been ongoing for some time, adjusters may refuse to contact you in hopes that the statute of limitations will run out. In this case, you may be unable to recover through either the claims process or through a lawsuit.
Insurance Adjusters Want You to Admit Accident Fault Regardless of Truth
As we mentioned, the adjuster works for the insurance company that you are placing your claim against. More often than not, this will be the insurance company of the individual who caused your accident, or the “at-fault party.” Rarely- if ever- will you hear the adjuster handling your case admit that their insured is actually liable for the collision. Admitting liability on the part of their insured would likely result in the insurance company to pay out a lot more money on your claim than they desired to.
Not only will the adjuster refuse to admit that their insured was the true cause of the accident, they may take it a step further by trying to force you to admit that you actually caused or contributed to the accident by asking a series of loaded questions. Watch out for conversations like this: “I understand that the other car ran the red light and hit you, but what more could you have done to avoid the accident?” or “I understand that it rained on the day of the accident.
How much of an effect do you think the slick roads had on your ability to avoid the accident?” These types of questions may seem innocent enough, but in reality they force you to admit that you may have actually been a contributing cause to the accident. Such admissions can seriously reduce the amount of money you can recover for your losses and injuries.
Be Careful About Signing What Insurance Adjusters Give You
Another way that adjusters may attempt to avoid liability for their insured is by using your own medical records against you. As we mentioned, it is vitally important to watch what you say to adjusters- especially in any written communications. Pay close attention to their questions, and remember that they are not coming from a place of concern for your well being. Rather, they are protecting the insurance company that pays their salary.
In order to obtain your medical records, the adjuster will have to obtain a signed authorization from you. When preparing to sign this authorization, be sure to read it very carefully. You may find that the adjuster is requesting records that are completely unrelated to your accident, going back years and years before the injury even occurred. This is another attempt to point the finger at someone other than their insured. If the adjuster is able to obtain your complete medical history, he may be able to find some decades-old wound and try to label that as the real cause of your current injury.
The adjuster may also attempt to obtain your agreement to attend an Independent Medical Exam. This is a physical examination of your injuries by a medical professional. The problem here is that the doctor conducting the examination is never a trusted physician of your choice. Instead, the physician is chosen and paid for by the insurance company. This is just one more way that the adjusters try to stack the deck against you, and in favor of the insurance companies who sign their paychecks.
Insurance Adjusters Will Try to Record You
One dirty trick that insurance adjusters will try to pull on you is asking for a recorded statement. This may seem innocuous at first since you have been telling the truth. The thing is that with recorded statements, there can be a lot of ways for insurance adjusters to sneak in questions that’s answers can be taken out of context and hurt your claim. A simple “I’m fine” in response to a “How are you feeling today?” can make your injuries appear to be much less serious and extensive than they might be. Be careful what you say and avoid recorded statements at all costs.
Insurance Adjusters can Delay the Payment of Your Claim
When you are recuperating from injuries you sustained from an accident, you likely will have accrued an extensive list of expenses that have put pressure on your finances. Medical care alone can break the bank of someone involved in an accident and compensation through insurance may seem the only light at the end of the tunnel.
Insurance adjusters know that you have been financially burdened by an accident and may try to take advantage of your precarious financial position by delaying the payment of your claim for as long as possible. In this situation they typically will have the advantage where they can sweat you out while dangling a meager settlement that is usually a fraction of what is reasonable. The money may seem good at the moment but don’t tap out because sometimes you can recover double what you may have settled for under pressure.
You Could be Under Surveillance by an Insurance Adjuster
If an insurance adjuster can prove that your injuries are not as serious as you’ve claimed, then you can expect a decrease in your settlement amount. Insurance adjusters don’t necessarily care if your injuries really are serious. They just need to make it seem as if they aren’t. To do this they will go to all kinds of extraordinary lengths to surveil you.
Believe it or not, the view from the front of your house is actually fair game for surveillance. If an insurance adjuster gets video of you leaning down to pick up a box or hauling trash while you have a broken leg, it could potentially hurt your claim because it could be framed in a way to make you not look as injured.
A newer dirty trick is for insurance adjusters to use social media to see if they can catch you doing anything that can hurt your claim. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter could all be searched through by an insurance adjuster for evidence if you don’t take care an use more secure privacy settings. If an adjuster manages to find an Instagram picture of you out on a sailing trip a couple of days after a car accident, then rest assured you can expect some complications with your claim. Take it easy, focus on your recovery, and be aware that you may be being watched.
Insurance Adjusters Will Try to Say You Don’t Need an Attorney
Of all the unscrupulous tactics employed by insurance companies and adjusters alike, this one is the worst and most egregious. Discouraging an injured party from seeking the advice of an attorney is a huge red flag. Remarks like this usually mean there is something they are trying to hide. Adjusters know that involving an attorney in the claim will likely result in a much higher payout to the injured party.
As a result, the Claims Adjuster will have failed in their task of limiting the payout on said claim. You may also be told by an Adjuster that the lawyer will take all of your money and you will net more without the involvement of an attorney. This is also a falsehood. Unrepresented parties generally walk away with far less that they would net even after paying attorney’s fees.
Seek an Experienced Car Accident Attorney
At the Dolman Law Group, our attorneys have years of experience in dealing with insurance carriers and the claims adjusters they employ. We know their tricks and how to best avoid them. Most importantly, we know your rights as an injured party and believe that you should too. If you or someone you know has been injured in a car accident and are now faced with the daunting task of dealing with insurance Adjusters claiming to be “on your side,” contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at Dolman Law Group. We will fight for your rights and work aggressively to get the highest possible settlement for your case.
Contact our office today for a free case evaluation and consultation: 727-451-6900. We handle claims throughout the Tampa Bay are and specifically in the cities of St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Pinellas Park, St. Petersburg Beach, Kenneth City, Pinellas Park, Belleair, Seminole, Dunedin, Palm Harbor, Clearwater Beach, Ozona, Safety Harbor, Bradenton and Sarasota.