After a devastating car accident, it’s natural to want to move on with your life as quickly as possible. However, if the crash was caused by another driver, there are several benefits to taking your time to gather information and make decisions about what to do. This is important to know upfront because one of the first things that is probably going to happen after the crash is that you will get a call from an insurance adjuster for the at-fault driver. Knowing how to deal with this call before it happens can save you a lot of trouble—and could significantly increase the value of your settlement.
What NOT to Do When the Insurance Company Calls
The insurance company has many tricks up its sleeves to reduce the amount it will have to pay out on a claim, even when its client is completely at fault. One of these tricks is to get you when you are at your most vulnerable—as soon after the crash as they can. If you get a call from an insurance company, it is vital that you NOT do the following:
- Allow them to record a statement. You are not thinking clearly soon after the crash and may still feel quite emotional. Insurance adjusters are trained to take advantage of this by getting you to say things that could reduce the value of your claim. If the adjuster asks to record your conversation, politely decline. You are under no obligation to give a recorded statement.
- Answer questions about your injuries. The insurance company will be looking to downgrade the extent of your injuries. If they ask you about the “nature and extent” of your injuries, the best response is that you are “undergoing treatment.”
- Grant them access to your medical records. At some point, you will need to present medical records to prove that you were injured and to demonstrate the extent of your injuries. However, signing a waiver to grant the insurance company full access to all of your medical records is not required and could backfire if they use them to claim you had a pre-existing injury.
- Accept their first settlement offer. When an insurer knows that their client is 100% at-fault, they will attempt to settle the claim quickly and for less than what it’s worth by making a low settlement offer right away. They are never going to start off with a fair offer, so you should never accept the initial offer.
In a nutshell, it is best to say as little as possible to the insurance company in the days after a crash.
Other Tricks Insurance Companies Play to Save Money
Talking to you when you’re vulnerable and trying to record your statements are two common insurance company ploys, but they are not the only ones in their arsenal. Other tactics they might use include:
- Pretending to be on your side. Don’t buy a sympathetic act from an insurance adjuster. They will tell you that they are willing to work with you, want to help you, or just want to see how you are doing. They might even criticize their own client to gain your trust. Remember—they don’t care about you. They only care about saving their employer money.
- Delaying the process. Once you have turned down the initial offer, you might not hear back from the insurer for some time. They will avoid your calls, fail to return your messages, and do everything they can to drag out the process so that you will feel desperate and accept whatever they eventually offer.
- Convincing you that you don’t need a lawyer. An insurance adjuster’s worst enemy is a personal injury lawyer who understands what the claim is worth and will use legal tools to get it for their client. That’s why the adjuster will try to convince you that you can settle the claim without a lawyer—and you’ll save money on lawyer’s fees.
- Disputing your medical expenses. Once you are at the negotiating stage, the adjuster will go through your medical expenses with a fine-toothed comb, disputing the necessity of every test and treatment. However, if they were ordered by your doctor, you should not have to worry about them being covered.
- Spying on you. In high-value cases, insurance companies sometimes use spies to try to catch you doing something you claim you can’t do because of your injuries. They do this the old-fashioned way, by following you and taking pictures, and by stalking your social media accounts.
If this all sounds intimidating, it’s because it is. That’s the point. Insurance adjusters know that you are inexperienced and desperate, and they want to take full advantage of that. So, what can you do to protect yourself? It only takes one simple step.
How a Lawyer Can Save You From the Insurance Company
There is no doubt that it is stressful to deal with insurance companies while you are trying to recover from a serious car accident. However, there is an easy way to avoid the stress. When you call an experienced car accident injury lawyer immediately after the crash, the lawyer will deal with the insurance adjuster from day one. You do not have to worry about what to say and what not to say or what your claim is truly worth. If your injuries were serious enough that you required medical treatment at the scene or in the emergency room soon after, you would be smart to call a lawyer as soon as possible.
What about the insurance company’s claim that the lawyer’s fee will mean you get less money? In most cases, that’s hogwash. Having a lawyer on your side will significantly increase your payout from the insurance company, so even though we take a percentage of the settlement at the end of the process, you will still pocket more than you would have without a lawyer. The best part is that our consultations are free, and you won’t owe us anything out of your own pocket. If we don’t think we can increase the value of your claim, we will tell you in our initial meeting, so you have nothing to lose!