After a car accident, you will have multiple conversations with a representative from your insurance company. Most of the conversations will involve an insurance adjuster. However, many people are unaware of the function of an insurance adjuster, and still more are unsure regarding what to say to the adjuster. Before speaking with your insurance company, consult this quick guide to insurance adjusters.
What Do Insurance Adjusters Do?
Insurance claims adjusters are in charge of evaluating the various insurance claims made by customers. Car insurance adjusters must interview the claimant, the other driver or drivers and any witnesses in order to determine the circumstances of an accident. Further, adjusters consult police reports, accident reports, photos and other documents to make a determination regarding fault.
In addition, car insurance adjusters assess the damages to your vehicle in order to determine how much the insurance company should pay for the losses you incurred. Adjusters may visually inspect your car themselves or request estimates from a certified repair shop. After the estimate is complete, the adjuster communicates the insurance company’s settlement offer to you and guides you through the process of accepting or denying the offer.
What Should You Tell the Adjuster?
During the initial call, avoid admitting fault or giving too many details about the accident. Since West Virginia is a modified comparative negligence state, if you bear more than 50% of the fault in the accident, you will not receive compensation in a personal injury case. Thus, you should avoid accepting fault while speaking with an insurance adjuster.
In fact, many attorneys advise against speaking with an adjuster at all. Similarly, many attorneys do not recommend providing a recorded statement. Instead, prepare a truthful, concise, written statement and relay only the barest facts about the accident. Alternatively, seek the help of a West Virginia car accident attorney before preparing your statement.
During the final stage in the process, the point at which the adjuster offers you a settlement, refrain from verbally accepting any settlement. Instead, request the offer in writing and compare it to any third party estimates or discuss with an attorney in West Virginia before accepting.
What Do Car Insurance Adjusters Look for?
Car insurance adjusters receive training to identify fraud, such as customers attempting to claim prior damage on a current claim, or passing off collision damages from a fender bender as damages covered under comprehensive weather or animal damages. Since insurance fraud by others can raise your insurance premiums, fraud training is a good thing. However, when you are making your claim, be sure the adjuster includes all your current damages in the inspection report.
Insurance companies do not want to pay for damages that already existed on your vehicle, and will only pay for damages received in the accident for which you made your claim. Car insurance adjusters look for evidence of previous damage and repairs related to past incidents. In addition, adjusters look for rust, which is a sign damages existed prior to the current accident.
The goal of your insurance company is to provide coverage and repair damages while giving you the least amount of compensation possible. Minimizing settlement costs while continuing to receive insurance premiums is the primary way insurance companies make money. As a result, adjusters may inaccurately dismiss some of your vehicle’s damages as pre-existing or unrelated to the accident.
Settlement Offers from a Car Insurance Adjuster
When car insurance adjusters contact you with the initial settlement offer, keep in mind that the insurance company anticipates negotiations. The initial offer the adjuster gives is likely low, to allow for negotiations that fit the insurance company’s budget. It is important to be cautious while considering the initial offer. An experienced car accident attorney can assist you in analyzing the offer before you decide whether to accept.
Insurance companies, along with insurance adjusters, provide a necessary service for those involved in motor vehicle accidents. However, remember that your insurance company is a business, whose primary goal is to make money. Your adjuster works for the insurance company, not for you, and has the company’s best interests at heart. As a result, you must be vigilant regarding your claim in order to ensure your settlement meets your needs.