When filing an automobile accident insurance claim, you will likely deal with an insurance adjuster. They may take on various titles, such as claims specialist, claims representative, or claims analyst. However, all of these entities are charged with handling the same general duties.
There are three types of insurance adjusters, including:
- Claims adjusters – These individuals work for the insurance company as full-time employees. Their main job function is to investigate accidents and negotiate with victims to reach settlement agreements.
- Public Adjusters – These individuals work independently. Members of the public can secure their investigation services on a freelance basis.
- Independent Adjusters – These individuals also work for themselves, but they offer their freelance services to insurance companies or public government agencies.
Regardless of their title, these individuals all work to investigate the accident and determine liability. They then determine an appropriate level of compensation and negotiate with the victim towards the goal of settling the claim.
Making Initial Contact
Your first meeting with an insurance adjuster will likely occur by telephone. During that time, the adjuster will likely ask for a statement about the accident. Don’t feel pressured to make an immediate statement. You may wish to consult your attorney first or follow-up with your medical provider. Let the adjuster know that you need more time to make your official statement. Remember, you will be bound by what you say, so take your time. If you are ready to make a statement, you will provide the name(s) of your doctors. You may also complete a release providing the adjuster access to your medical records.
This is also the time to discuss vehicle repair. Let the adjuster know that you will be taking your car to a shop that you trust and don’t feel pressured to use their mechanics. Also request that only original equipment manufactured (OEM) parts be used on your car, instead of substitutes of questionable quality.
At the conclusion of the meeting, be sure to get your claim number and request a written document confirming the initial meeting and opening of a claim.
Keep the insurance adjuster up-to-date about your claim, including medical updates and information about the condition of your vehicle. Send copies of new medical bills, out-of-pocket receipts, and repair bills. This serves two purposes. It helps you keep your information organized and also keeps your case at the forefront of your adjuster’s cluttered caseload. Documenting your expenses gives you a realistic basis for your settlement request and increases your chance of getting a higher award.
It is important to remember that part of the claims adjuster’s job is to settle the claim as quickly as possible and in favor of their employer/client. Most of them deal with many new cases per month, making for an extremely large workload. For this reason, don’t be surprised if you learn that you are much more knowledgeable about your case than the adjuster. Use this to your advantage. While you have been consumed with the details of your case and your injuries for months, the claim adjuster has likely spent an hour or two at the most reviewing your claim. Keep your documents organized to help you present a viable negotiation.
It is also important to understand the limits of the adjuster’s authority in reaching a settlement. Before offering a settlement amount, the insurance company gives the adjuster a set range of money to offer. The more senior the adjuster, the higher the adjustment limits; however, the adjuster is generally not authorized to offer any amount above this limit. Adjusters will generally make an initial offer that falls at the low end of their authorized amount, so take the first offer as a hint at the adjuster’s allowed range.
If the claims adjuster decides to offer an amount higher than their authorized limit, he or she may have to consult a supervisor or manager for approval. If this occurs, be sure to pin down a date for follow–up. If you hear nothing by that date, send a reminder letter.
Before going it alone, it is helpful to speak with a qualified auto accident attorney in Charlotte, NC about your car wreck case.