What to Say and What Not to Say When Speaking to an Insurance Adjuster
When an accident happens, emotions are going to run high, especially if someone is hurt. Whether your home caught on fire, a pipe burst and flooded your home, or you just got in a car accident on the highway, it is best to try to calm yourself down and think clearly before you start speaking to the insurance company. There are countless examples of people who immediately started apologizing after an accident who were held liable, even if it wasn't their fault to begin with. Claims adjusters are never on your side - it is their job to resolve the claim and pay out as little as possible, if they pay out anything at all. These tips will help you consider what you should, or shouldn't say, to an insurance adjuster after an incident.
- Never admit fault, even if you think the fault was yours at the time.
You may think an accident was your fault, but you could be wrong. Regardless, it is important not to admit fault or use apologetic language when speaking with an insurance adjuster in person, over the phone, or in writing. If the insurance adjuster can somehow argue that the incident or accident was your fault, and absolve the company of any liability, you may not get any compensation at all. You can even admit fault without realizing it. If a tree fell and broke your roof, you never want to say "we always knew that one day this would happen." If you knew it would happen, they could argue it was your fault for not working to prevent it.
Even if you think you were at fault for the incident, do not admit it. Wait for their investigation to show that you were, in fact, at fault. After all, you may even be wrong. You may think the accident was your fault, but the investigation may reveal there was something else that caused it. In the case of a car accident, you may be positive at the time that you ran a red light, when camera footage reveals it was the other driver who did so. Wait for the investigation to run its course before you ruin your chances of getting compensation.
- Stick with the facts, and try not to speculate.
Insurance adjusters hear everything. If you are in a car accident and you say phrases like "he must have been speeding," or "he came out of nowhere," it will cause the insurance adjusters to question whether or not you were actually paying attention. In fact, there's a lot that you can say that can damage your claim or the amount of compensation you receive. Stick with the true facts that you know. If you're dealing with a car accident, let them know which direction you were going. What side of the vehicle was hit or damaged? Did you need to go to the hospital or emergency room? If you are dealing with a home insurance adjuster, tell them what was damaged and the cause; but again, don't speculate. If you notice structural damage to your home, you never want to say "it might be termites," when you aren't sure. This is especially true when you realize that termites are not typically covered by insurance. Termites may not be the cause of the damage. The fact is, you don't want to speculate or make guesses about the facts. Just explain what you know, not what you think happened.
- Avoid giving the insurance adjuster too many details, especially about your injuries.
This goes along with sticking to the facts. You may want to divulge as much information as possible right away, but the fact is you could be damaging your claim by doing so. If you have not seen a doctor yet, do not begin to divulge the details about your injuries. If you start telling the adjuster that you "feel totally fine," only to start feeling worse later, you may not be able to walk back your statement. This is a common occurrence, and it can drastically reduce your settlement offer. You can never be 100% sure that you are accurately describing an incident or accident while you are still full of anxiety and adrenaline. Let the adjuster know that something has happened, but avoid specific details unless they ask for anything specific. You never want to give them a reason to reduce your claim or avoid paying it. Answer all of their questions politely and truthfully, but never tell them more than they need to know.
- Avoid giving insurance adjusters recorded statements.
You do not have to give a recorded statement to an insurance adjuster. They may ask you for one, but it is within your rights to refuse. They cannot legally require you to provide one. The hope is that they will catch you changing your story.
Here's the bottom line.
When it comes to reporting an insurance claim, the first thing you should do is remain calm. Something terrible has happened, and you're likely still shaken up from the incident. When your home or automobile is damaged, or you or someone else is injured, your body is likely to be full of adrenaline. It is best to wait and calm down before speaking with any insurance adjusters.
Before you contact them, wait until you're calm enough to read your insurance policy. You want to make sure that what happened is covered. Think about what you are going to say to them, and write down the facts for yourself to make it easier to remember later. Never provide a copy of this writing to anyone.
Remember that you purchased this policy specifically to cover accidents like these. It is your money. You are entitled to receive compensation. After all, you pay monthly premiums just like everyone else. It is their responsibility, ultimately, to work with you and not against you. Stay calm and just stick with the facts.