In the beginning of an injury claim, what you tell your insurance company can affect the entire claim. The insurer can use even a tiny detail against you to deny your claim or reduce your settlement. Dealing with the insurance company is frustrating, and you can quickly slip up and say the wrong thing without noticing.
While you should have a car accident attorney handling all communications with the insurance company, sometimes you might speak with representatives without legal representation, generally before you have time to hire a car accident lawyer. Below are some things to never say.
Never admit fault or partial fault or any contribution to the accident. Refrain from saying sorry to anyone in the collision or the insurance company. You should avoid any statement or insinuation that can indicate fault at all costs.
Even if you believe you know who is at fault, you should also never discuss your theories without legal representation. You don’t have all the information, and guessing about fault for the accident can hinder your recovery options.
People hate to be complainers, and when the insurance company asks how you are doing, and your response is “fine,” they can take your answer to mean you have no injuries and not just because you are being polite.
Following the accident, you must wait for a medical professional to assess your injuries. The adrenaline and shock of the situation can mask your symptoms and injuries. Other times, injuries have delayed symptoms, and when you tell your insurance company you are okay or feel fine without knowing your full condition, they will use that against you.
The insurance company might also take this opportunity to have you sign a medical release form since you say you have no injuries. Once you sign, you are damaging your recovery chances.
Insurance companies love recorded statements because they can dissect every word you say and find a way to twist it to their benefit. They will make the statement seem like a harmless and necessary task, so you feel comfortable divulging more information than necessary.
Do not make a statement until you speak to a local car accident attorney. Your lawyer can communicate for you or be on the call when you give a statement to object or clarify questions.
When the insurance company sends you an initial offer, you should not say anything about it. Saying the offer sounds fine might indicate to the insurance company that you accept the settlement, and they can close this case. They will coax you into believing it is a good offer and is as much as they can offer you.
When you say the offer seems fine or okay, they have the word they need and might try to hold you to the agreement. However, when you have a lawyer, there are no misinterpretations regarding your position on a settlement offer.
It is acceptable and preferable that you say you don’t know or do not recall details of the accident, but you should refrain from guessing or saying you are “pretty sure” or “I think.”
Your statements form one basis of the insurance companies’ arguments and how they prevent you from getting a fair settlement. They use these statements as definitive answers and leave no room for interpretation. While you are using “I think” as a turn of phrase to indicate doubt, the insurance company looks at it as an admission.
Avoid giving the insurance company names of other people like family, friends, doctors, or insurance companies. Sometimes, they will ask for names and contact information so they can speak to these parties alone. They will act like they are concerned for your situation and trick your loved ones into giving details about your recovery or accident they are not privy to. The only contact information you must give them is for your attorney.
Only offer the information they request and nothing more. If no one asks about your speed, do not offer the information. If you have special customization or use your vehicle for rideshare services, do not share if the insurance company or defense does not explicitly ask you. You are under no obligation to provide that information.
Do not offer details about yourself or your occupation. Stick to the basics and keep your poker face on. Extra information will hamper your claim because the insurance company will find a way to spin it in their favor.
Having a beer or glass of wine might seem okay if you were not impaired while driving, but never mention this to an insurance company. Such facts are sufficient for them to allege you were driving drunk and likely liable for the accident. Some insurance companies will ask about your mental state at the time of the accident. If they ask you about alcohol consumption, you should refrain from answering that question and refer them to your lawyer.
Do not provide details about your medical treatment or lack thereof. You can discuss these details with your lawyer so they can obtain the necessary documentation to prove to the insurance company the severity of your injuries.
Once you begin talking about your injuries, the insurance company might use the opportunity to seek a medical record release. They want to gain access to your private medical records and request related information to verify your injuries, but also look for a preexisting condition or something else they can blame your injuries on.
The insurance company will attempt to contact you soon after your collision, sometimes within hours. They know you have yet to get a lawyer and want to use this lack of protection to their advantage. The insurance company can treat you unfairly if you confirm you do not have a lawyer or do not plan to hire one (which is always a mistake).
Instead, you can say you will have your lawyer contact them. You can refer them to your law firm if you already have legal representation.
You cannot avoid answering everything and should provide specific kernels of information to the insurance company to cooperate. Avoiding certain statements is one hurdle to jump through, but there are things you can tell the insurance company.
You can give objective and basic information about the parties involved in the accident. If other occupants were in your vehicle, you should provide their names and contact information. If you have your crash report, you can also inform them about other drivers in the collision.
You can state when and where the accident happened. You can also state the vehicles involved, like the make, model, color, and license plate. You can also say what kind of accident happened, like a rear-end collision, but never disclose the cause. Always refrain from going into detail.
Your car accident attorney can further advise you on the information you can provide and how to phrase it.
It is easy to underestimate a minor detail you slide into a conversion or something you say in a tongue-in-cheek way. The insurance company does not care about your phrasing or tone of voice. They care about the words you use. Letting your guard down when speaking to your insurance company is possible because you might believe they have your best interests in mind, but they still want to save money by using your words against you.
Every conversation, email, or communication regarding your accident is evidence to them. Using your words as evidence usually benefits their agenda of saving as much money as possible. Stick to yes or no answers whenever possible. The insurance adjuster handles thousands of claims, and they know how to twist people’s words since they have plenty of practice doing it. It is best to refer all communications to your lawyer when possible.
You must avoid speaking to any insurance company after a car accident, but you should also refrain from providing details to anyone else around you. Do not speak about the accident to family and friends because the insurance company might call them as a witness for your case, and they will have to disclose everything you told them or face legal consequences. You should avoid discussing the accident on social media, even if your page is private. Do not post pictures of the accident or you enjoying your life.
If you must speak to the insurance company, there are other tips to help you succeed during the conversation and keep your information private. The first post-accident phone call bears substantial weight on the rest of your claim, so you must prepare.
After an accident, you have a range of emotions that can evolve and stay with you for days or weeks later. Talking about the accident again can impact you during the conversation with the insurance company, and it might even trigger PTSD episodes.
The best way to avoid saying the wrong thing is to stay calm. Do not take your anger or other emotions out on the adjuster because they will consider that when processing your claim. Keep your cool and professionalism during interactions.
Before starting the conversation with the adjuster on the phone, jot down their contact information. You want to know who they are, who they work for, and their phone number. Do not speak to them until you have this information.
The insurance company doesn’t need intimate details about you or the accident but can act as they do. As a rule, do not give them all your personal information. The only personal details necessary initially are your name, phone number, and residential address.
Aside from limiting personal information, you should also limit the information you provide about the accident and your injuries. Refrain from discussing facts or opinions about the accident and stick to the basics. If they continue asking for details, tell them the crash is under investigation, or they might refer those questions to your lawyer. When they ask about your injuries, do not tell them about your diagnosis or pain. Just tell them you are getting treatment.
Any conversation about your accident requires that you take notes. Jot down what they ask and your responses. Also, note any requests they are hinting at or making. All of this information is helpful to your car accident lawyer.
Insurance adjusters will call you frequently to get more details and information when processing your claim. You should set a boundary on communication early on. Make it clear this is the only conversation they will have with you, and any further contact goes through your lawyer. They can be ruthless with their calls and might begin to call your family if you do not answer them. By setting a limit, you can try to prevent this.
The insurance adjuster can move quickly and offer you a settlement during the first or second conversation. They know this is the best time for them because if they provide you with a low settlement and you take it, they save their employer money and resolve one more claim.
In these initial conversations, you still do not know the extent of your injuries and losses, and the investigation is still ongoing. If the adjuster brings up settlement talks, don’t take the bait. Tell them you are still treating, and they must speak to your lawyer about any offers.
Speaking to the insurance company seems like a minefield, and you can set off a bomb with the wrong word. The solution is to use these tips and tricks if you must speak to the insurance company.
A better option, however, is to work with a local car accident lawyer who can handle all insurance company communications for you. They can handle most communications independently. Avoid any mishaps by calling a lawyer immediately following your incident.
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