Seven Lies an Insurance Adjuster May Tell You
If you were in an accident or suffered property damage, you will likely have to deal with an insurance adjuster. Often, the adjuster will seem very friendly and committed to helping you obtain compensation for your losses. However, it is important to remember that insurance adjusters are not working for you. They’re working for the insurance company and their main job is to reduce the company’s payouts on claims. To do this, they will often resort to various underhanded tactics, including telling outright lies.
Read on for more information about the common lies that insurance adjusters tell. Contact an experienced personal injury attorney with questions about your specific situation. An attorney can help protect you against underhanded insurance company tactics and help you seek the compensation you deserve.
What Is an Insurance Adjuster’s Job?
Insurance adjusters, also sometimes called claims adjusters, are employed by insurance companies to investigate claims made against policies the company has issued. The adjuster reviews each claim by interviewing the claimant and any witnesses, collecting police reports and medical records, and inspecting any property that was damaged in the incident.
Insurance adjusters not only use their own means and methods to determine what the company should pay, they may also negotiate a settlement with the claimant directly or through their attorneys. Insurance adjusters are not only expected to save the insurance company money on claims but also to settle the claims against them quickly.
Seven Common Lies Insurance Adjusters Tell
To reduce payouts and settle accident claims quickly, insurance adjusters commonly bank on the hope that the claimant will not realize they are being lied to. They also know that many claimants—often injured and/or dealing with extensive property damage—may be desperate enough for a resolution that they will accept a low-ball offer. Unfortunately, accepting a quick and low settlement offer is often a mistake. Once you agree to a settlement, you cannot go back and ask for more money if you later find that the amount you agreed to will not cover your expenses.
Here are some of the common lies that insurance adjusters tell claimants to reduce or eliminate the payout:
Lie #1. Tell you that you must respond to a settlement offer by an arbitrary deadline.
Insurance adjusters will often attach a deadline to a settlement offer in a ploy to convince the claimant that they must accept the offer right away or risk losing out on compensation entirely. The truth is this: there is a deadline, called the statute of limitations, for filing a personal injury lawsuit in court and you absolutely must honor this deadline or lose your opportunity to obtain compensation in your case.
This deadline differs depending on the state where you live. For example, in New York, the statute of limitations for most personal injury cases is three years from the date on which the injury occurred. However, the parties can settle any time from when you submit your claim until a court renders a judgment in your case. You are not legally required to accept or reject an offered settlement by any deadline other than the statute of limitations.
Lie #2. Say that they need your Social Security number to process your claim.
Insurance adjusters will often say that they need the claimant’s Social Security number to issue payment. Not only can the insurance company issue your settlement without your social security number, but providing this information allows the adjuster to access your driving record and background and they can try to use the information they find to avoid or reduce their payout on your claim.
Lie #3. Say that you have to sign a release form so they can process your claim.
You should never sign anything from an insurance adjuster without having an attorney review it first. Signing a release without completely understanding what you are releasing can result in an insurance adjuster having access to all of your medical records or it could release the insurance company from any liability for your claim. While the insurance adjuster will need to review medical records pertaining to your claim, there is no reason for them to see your complete medical history. An attorney can help you determine which records the insurance adjuster needs to see and what kinds of releases you should or should not sign.
If you refuse to release your medical records, the insurance company will often request an Independent Medical Exam (IME). An IME is a medical exam performed by a third-party physician who is not involved in your care and who is tasked with providing an unbiased analysis of your injury. The insurance company usually selects the physician who performs the IME. You generally cannot refuse to undergo an IME. An attorney can help you understand what to expect during the IME.
Lie #4. Tell you that the insurance company is accepting liability for your claim.
This one is less of an outright lie and more of an omission of fact. Often the adjuster will say that the company is accepting liability for the claim and that there is nothing to worry about. The truth is that an insurance company can accept liability for your claim and still dispute the amount of your claim.
They can go on to tell you that the policy doesn’t cover the expenses you are requesting compensation for, that you’re not eligible to receive pain and suffering damages, that they have discovered that you are partially or completely at fault, or that your injuries aren’t as severe as you’ve claimed.
Without an attorney to assist you in determining exactly what type of compensation you are entitled to receive and presenting the evidence and information to prove your losses, you stand to lose thousands of dollars in compensation.
Lie #5. Say that you need to provide a recorded statement.
This is one of the most common tricks insurance adjusters use: They tell you that they need a recorded statement. The truth is, they don’t. There is nothing beneficial to your case that they can get from speaking to you that they can’t receive in the form of documentation and written information from your attorney.
Furthermore, if you agree to provide a statement without first discussing the situation with an attorney or having an attorney present during the statement, the insurance adjuster can use the information you provided to:
- Suggest that you are not as injured as you claim. For example, when the insurance adjuster asks “How are you doing today?” and you say “Fine”, they may try to use this response as evidence that your injuries are not as severe as you say.
- Compare your recorded statement with other statements you’ve made, including information you provided to the police officer who investigated the accident, looking for inconsistencies. It is not unusual for an individual’s accounting of a traumatic event to have some inconsistencies, but insurance adjusters will often try to use any inconsistencies to paint the victim as a dishonest person.
- Use aggressive tactics or creative wording to get you to make or agree to a statement that isn’t accurate.
Lie #6. Claim you were partially or completely at fault.
In most states, you can partially cause an accident that precipitated your injuries and still seek compensation from other at-fault parties.
Remember that the insurance adjuster’s main task is to save the insurance company money by reducing payouts. Shifting the blame to you and away from their insured is one of the main ways of doing this.
Even if you suspect that your own actions may have been a factor in the accident, you should never admit liability to the at-fault party or their insurance company. In the chaos after an accident, it is often difficult to clearly understand what happened or who was really at fault. One of the many services an attorney can provide is a thorough examination of the facts of your case to determine who is truly liable.
Lie #7. Tell you that you don’t need an attorney.
Insurance adjusters aren’t required to tell you the truth about your claim. In fact, in many situations, they’re encouraged to bend the truth to protect the company they work for. They bank on the claimant not understanding the policy or the process of obtaining compensation, and without an attorney, their gamble often pays off. However, experienced personal injury attorneys are well aware of the tactics that insurance adjusters use and can counter those tactics on behalf of their clients.
An attorney can:
- Provide a free case evaluation, which is no-cost, no-obligation time with an attorney to ask legal questions and to learn more about the process of pursuing compensation through a personal injury lawsuit.
- Identify all sources of liability and all insurance resources you may access to seek compensation for your injuries and losses. Insurance pays the vast majority of settlements and awards. While you may sue an uninsured person and obtain a judgment in your favor, collecting your award in this situation is often very difficult since most people do not have the money to pay for accident expenses out-of-pocket.
- Calculate the value of your case, based on the expenses and psychological impacts you have already incurred as a result of your injury, as well as those you will likely face in the future.
- Negotiate with the insurance adjuster to seek a fair settlement offer on your behalf. Your attorney will also advise you whether a settlement offer is fair and can let you know what will happen if you accept or reject the offer.
- Timely file all court-required paperwork in the proper jurisdiction, as well as representing you at all pre-trial conferences and hearings.
- Collect and organize evidence and witness testimony that can be used to prove your case.
- If you do not receive a fair settlement offer from the other party, file and litigate a lawsuit on your behalf. During litigation, your attorney will provide services such as delivering opening and closing arguments, the presentation of evidence, and the examination of witnesses.
- Help you collect your settlement or award.