At some point after you are involved in an accident, the auto insurance company will contact you and ask you to either record a verbal statement about the events surrounding the incident or submit one in writing. Although the insurance adjuster may make it seem as though you are required to submit to the request, whether or not you have to give a statement depends on who the adjuster works for. Here's what you need to know about these requests to help you make the right decision when you get them.
Compliance Depends on the Insurance Provider
Whether you must comply with a request to provide a recorded or written statement depends on if it's your insurance company asking or another party's. In general, your insurance policy contractually obligates you to cooperate with your insurance provider as they investigate your claim. This means that if your provider asks you to sit for a recorded interview or to submit a letter outlining the events of the accident, you would have to comply at some point. Failure to do so could lead to the insurance company denying your claim or possibly suing you for damages it may sustain as a result of your failure to cooperate.
On the other hand, if the insurance company represents another party involved in the accident, you are under no legal obligation to submit to the adjuster's request. While the adjuster may pressure, cajole, or threaten you, or otherwise make it seem like you have to cooperate with him or her, you can refuse to make any type of on-record statement to the individual about the accident.
The Purpose Behind on Record Statements
The reason why the other party's insurance company wants you to speak on record about the accident is so it can pick apart your version of events to find something it can hold against you. For instance, if you mention you made a rolling stop at a stop sign, the adjuster may try to use that information to make you partially or fully culpable in the accident, even if that really wasn't a contributing factor.
Although your insurance company is working to help you resolve your claim, it is always representing its own best interests. So you have to be careful when furnishing on-record statements to your provider, because the adjuster for the company may also use them to avoid fully paying your claim or deny it altogether.
Before giving any statement to any official at any insurance company, speak to an attorney who can guide you on exactly what you should say to protect your interests.
Tips for Dealing with Insurance Adjusters
It's highly likely you will receive a call from an insurance adjuster within days of reporting the accident, and possibly even before you can retain the services of an attorney. Here are a few tips to help you handle this situation:
- Identify the caller. Get the name, address and/or phone number, and employee number (if relevant) of the person who is calling. Be certain to obtain the name of the company he or she is representing as well.
- Only give minimal information about yourself. You only need to give the person your name, address, and contact information. All other personal information is irrelevant and unnecessary.
- Notify the insurance adjuster that you don't want to give an official statement until you've spoken to an attorney. Only give the bare basics of the situation such as where the accident took place, the date and time it occurred, and the identity of any witnesses who observed the incident. You should also avoid discussing your injuries until you have confirmation from a physician about what they are and the amount of treatment needed to get back to normal.
- If the adjuster tries to push you to give a recorded statement, tell the person that you are not comfortable discussing the issue until you have spoken to an attorney. Alternatively, if don't like that wording, you can tell the person you are still recovering and, thus, hazy on the details and prefer to submit a written statement at a later date. This should provide you with enough time to get representation before you have to comply.
Be polite but firm, and don't be afraid to cut the conversation short if the adjuster becomes aggressive, abusive, or rude. For more information about dealing with insurance adjusters, contact a firm such as Master Weinstein Moyer, P.C.