Dealing With Insurance After a Motorcycle Accident
Statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) show that motorcyclists are six times more likely to sustain injuries during a traffic accident than car drivers. This means if you have recently been in a motorcycle accident, you are probably also dealing with medical bills and extended time off from work. The last thing you need is to have your insurance claim derailed by an insurance claims adjuster. So, what should you do when that call from the insurance company comes? Here are a few suggestions.
Do Not Get Too Comfortable with Insurance Companies
Keep in mind that the claims adjuster is not on your side—not even if he or she works for your own insurance company. The role of an insurance adjuster is to minimize the payout and protect the company’s interests. The insurance adjuster may even seek ways to deny your claim altogether.
Most adjusters begin with small talk and simple questions to make you feel comfortable. They will then begin more complex interrogations, waiting for you to say something they can manipulate to help justify limiting or denying a claim. As such, you should prepare for your interview by:
- Setting the meeting for a time and place where you will not feel rushed. Most interviews take place over the phone, in which case you can select a quiet place in your own home.
- Reviewing your notes and looking over photographs of the accident to refresh your memory.
- Anticipating the type of questions the adjuster might ask so you can rehearse your answers.
- Arranging for a close friend or family member to be with you during the interview for moral support and to serve as a witness in case a dispute arises about what you and the adjuster said.
- Speaking with an attorney to learn what your rights are and obtain advice on how to answer some of the tougher questions. You should also know if there are certain questions an agent should not ask you.
When speaking with the adjuster:
- Give answers that are short and to-the-point. Do not provide more information than required. In other words, do not ramble on whenever a simple yes or no will suffice. Remember, adjusters try to make you feel comfortable at the beginning of the conversation in hopes of getting you to say something that might help them justify limiting or denying your claim.
- Be truthful. The insurance company is likely to dispute your claim if the adjuster catches you in a lie. It is often better to say you don’t know the answer to a question than to say things you aren’t sure about.
- Do not admit fault. If you do, the agent now has justification for denying the claim.
- Avoid giving specific data when a range of numbers might suffice. For example, do not tell the adjuster exactly how fast you were going or the precise number of seconds it took you to stop.
- Take notes and have your friend do so as well.
Be mindful of bullying tactics such as an adjuster badgering you for the information you don’t have. Should this happen, politely but firmly tell the adjuster why the mode of questioning makes you uncomfortable. If he or she continues, let the adjuster know that you are terminating the interview and then hang up. Do not get belligerent and avoid any arguments or confrontations with the adjuster whatsoever.
Ask Insurance Adjuster About Fault
Ideally, your agent should tell you that the company will review the facts and then make a determination—that is, unless the circumstances make it obvious which party caused the accident. However, many adjusters already have a negative view of motorcycle riders and come with a preconceived notion that they are to blame—even before an investigation has taken place.
Near the end of your interview, if there is any ambiguity, ask directly who the adjuster believes is at fault. If the adjuster answers that you are the party totally or partially at fault, ask on what specific grounds the adjuster bases this view. Having this information will help you and your lawyer plan how to respond.
Beware Quick Settlement Offers From Insurance Companies
Motorcycle accidents are more costly than others due to the high likelihood of injuries. Therefore, insurance adjusters are often eager to settle them for as little money as possible. The problem is that the full extent of your injuries may not yet be apparent. In addition, the stress and trauma recovering from a motorcycle accident, particularly in the days immediately following the accident, can cloud your thinking and cause you to make poor, ill-informed decisions.
For that reason, avoid accepting any initial insurance settlement offers until you have had time to completely assess your situation and speak with an attorney. Do not let emotion or your worries about medical bills get the best of you. Any offer an insurance adjuster makes quickly is probably a low-ball one.
Say No to Insurance Adjusters Asking for Voice Recordings
Florida is a two-party consent state, which means that both parties must consent to recording. Some insurance companies try to get around this by telling you that they must record the interview and cannot proceed without it. Unless you waive your rights, they cannot move forward with the claim. Most people feel hamstrung at this point and give in.
The purpose of recording is so that representatives can replay the tape over and over looking for words that might disqualify your claim. They might also compare the tape against any depositions you give later or even your court testimony. None of this will work in your favor, so it is best to just forego the recording in the first place. Defer your interview until you’ve contacted an attorney for advice on how to proceed.
My Claims Adjuster Won’t Cooperate—Now What?
If any part of the process of dealing with an insurance adjuster after a motorcycle accident feels intimidating or overwhelming, you may find it helpful to speak with an experienced motorcycle accident attorney. We may be able to help. Contact the Dolman Law Group’s Clearwater office online today or call us at (727) 451-6900 to schedule a free consultation.
Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765