Help! An adjuster is calling and asking me for stuff!
You remember the scenario from last week, where you were injured in an accident? Remember how the adjuster called you the same day to offer you a generous bounty (sarcasm) of $500.00 to settle the case? Remember how it’s generally a bad idea to accept those same-day or next-day offers of settlement?
Well, offering an early settlement isn’t the only reason why adjusters will call. It is highly common for adjusters to reach out to potential claimants and make other requests. For instance, you may get a call asking for a recounting of what happened, you may get a request for a signed medical release, and you may even get a request for a recorded statement. Unfortunately, it’s also very common for adjusters to strongly imply or even state outright that they’re going to deny liability or close the file (whatever that means) if the claimant doesn’t comply.
Okay, so do I have to go along with these requests?
Remember that your average insurance adjuster is a lot like your average customer service rep. They’re generally going to be very friendly and very sympathetic to your situation, and they’ll come across as wanting to be as helpful as possible. Remember, though, that at the end of the day the adjuster doesn’t work for you. The adjuster works for the insurance company, and his or her job is to save the boss as much money as possible. Keep in mind that any time the adjuster asks you for information, it’s because he or she is trying to minimize or eliminate the amount of your recovery. Another thing to think about is that if the adjuster is asking you about what happened from a factual standpoint, it’s because they’re looking for an avenue to deny liability. With North Carolina being a contributory negligence state, all the adjuster needs is a tiny foothold in order to implicate contrib and deny your claim entirely.
So with that said, generally speaking, you don’t have to give the adjuster any information. You don’t have to answer questions about what happened, you don’t have to give a recorded statement, and you certainly don’t have to (and you never should) authorize the liability carrier to access your medical information.
The singular exception is that if you’re seeking to recover under UM or UIM first-party coverage, your own policy may require you to give a recorded statement to your carrier. In these cases, my advice is to first demand that the adjuster cite the provision in the policy requiring you to give the statement in the first place. Then when you actually give the statement, make sure that you’re sticking to the bare-bones facts. For instance, (i) I was stopped, (ii) the car hit me, (iii) I was injured, (iv) the car drove off and I didn’t see the license plate. Don’t let the adjuster poke around for minor details like whether you were listening to the radio or doing your makeup. Just the facts!
I know it’s a short post this week, but it’s a very important one as well! If you have any questions, you know where to find me!