Insurance Adjusters: How-To’s

The Insurance Adjuster’s Job Is To Pay You Less

The insurance industry trains all of its adjusters to pay as little as possible on claims.  Some adjusters are rewarded with bonuses and promotions based on the amount of money they payout.  There are many tactics the insurance industry uses to drive down the value of your case.  Here are a few:

  • Delay.  Adjusters know using delay tactics wears a lot of people down to the point they just give in to an unreasonably low number because they just want to get it over with.
  • Requesting Unnecessary Information. Another delay tactic that also works to make people think they do not have a case or that their case has problems.
  • Disputing Medical Treatment. This tactic is the most immoral because who is an adjuster, sometimes someone without a college degree much less a medical background, to tell you what is and isn’t medically necessary.
  • Nickel & Diming Medical Bills.  Often adjusters agree to pay 80-80% of your bills knowing you are unlikely to put up a fight with such small deductions.  But, these add up and affect the overall value of your case too.
  • Acting as your Friend.  Adjusters are trained to build rapport and their is even evidence they  are supposed to convince you they are acting as YOUR claims representative.
  • Threatening your Settlement Value if you Hire an Attorney. Adjusters know people will react when presented a sum of money and then threatened to have it reduced.  What they don’t tell you is the average settlement goes up 3.5 times in value when an attorney is involved.

Experience shows you will talk to an adjuster before you talk to an attorney.  After all, the insurance companies know if they can get to you beforehand, they can position themselves as your “representative.”  Remember, adjusters are only after information and arguments to lower the amount of money to pay you.  You should only do the following when talking to an insurance adjuster:

  • Write down the name, address, and phone number of every adjuster you speak to and his/her company;
  • You can provide your name, address, and phone number;
  • Take notes during EVERY conversation – they do in their “diaries”
  • Ask the adjuster if there were any witnesses;
  • Only describe your injuries in a very general sense.  Do not give them specific injuries because they will later say you changed your story

NOW for the things you SHOULD NOT DO when talking to insurance adjusters:

  • Do not give a recorded statement.  This will only be used against you later on.  Plus, you want to control your case and the release of information.
  • Do not make friendly conversation with the adjuster.  Stay business and only tell them the who, what, where, when.  Don’t even tell them the How at this point.
  • Absolutely do not agree to ANYTHING
  • DO NOT SIGN ANYTHING.  Insurance companies sometimes hide releases and other things on paperwork
  • Do not give them any information about your family
  • DO not give them the names of your doctors
  • Do not sign a medical release.  Your medical records are protected by federal law.  The insurance companies will only use this release to dig through all your medical history, even things not related to the car accident.

The Secret of Getting More Money For Your Wrecked Car

I receive many calls asking if I would help with getting money for a person’s wrecked car.  The short answer is most likely “No.”  Not only is it not an effective use of my time, but most people would not be able to pay off their car loans with the money they receive after my fee.  And that just does not make good business sense.

Your right to money for repairs or totaling out of your car is called a “property damage” (PD) claim by the insurance companies.  When you are involved in an accident in Georgia, you actually have two separate claims – one for your property damage and one for bodily injuries.  You can bring separate lawsuits for each.  In fact most insurance companies will open two separate claims and use two different adjusters.

Getting the insurance companies to pay for either repairs or the salvage value of your car is relatively easy and is something you can do on your own without having to involve an attorney.  Here are a couple of things to keep in mind when handling your own property claim:

  • Diminished value.  If you car is repaired, you are entitled to diminished value. Diminished value is the amount of money your car decreases in value because it has been in a wreck.  When you go to sell your car, the car dealer or buyer can pull a report out of a national database using your car’s VIN number.  When they see your car was in an accident, it makes your car worth less.  In Georgia, you have a legal right for the insurance company to compensate you for this lost value, but the insurance companies will not volunteer this!
  • Aftermarket parts v. OEM parts.  When the body shop repairs your car, they can either use original equipment manufacturer parts (OEM) or aftermarket parts.  The insurance companies will tell you the difference in quality between the two types of parts is negligible.  It is no wonder they say this seeing as how they are substantially cheaper than OEM parts.  An OEM part may be twice as much as its comparable aftermarket part.  Finally, when you go to sell your car, the buyer/dealer will be looking to see what types of parts you used and will adjust the value of your car accordingly.

How To Help Maximize The Value of Your Personal Injury Case

It Is Your Job To Increase Your Case’s Value By Getting Organized

At the risk of saying the obvious, you are reading this web site because you or a loved one has been in an accident but you have not yet retained an attorney.  There is a lot going on in this time period that affects the value of your case and yet you do not have an attorney consulting you.  For example, you have probably had conversations with insurance adjusters.  (See here for Do’s & Don’ts when doing so).

Your main three objectives at this point should be to:

  1. Work on getting better by receiving the appropriate medical care.
  2. Organize and document your case; and
  3. Seek out an retain an attorney.

This article focuses on the 2nd objective.

One of the most important things you can do for your own case is keep accurate medical records by:

  • asking for a bill each time you see a doctor EVEN if your insurance is paying for it;
  • Save all prescription bills and bottles (to show the jury);
  • Keep a chart/list of all the medical appointments you have, the dates of each, or things you purchased such as heating pads or bandages.

Even though I will obtain a complete set of your medical records directly from your doctors, your documents provide a crucial double check process that all your damages are accounted for.  We can’t ask for what we don’t know about.

Another critical task for you is to document your injuries and how your life has been affected by:

  • Keep all papers anyone gives or sends you;
  • Keep a journal/diary of how your life has changed.  This just needs to be two or three sentences each day that describe how you are feeling and things that you were unable to do that day, or things you could only do with pain. You want to be able to describe in detail how you were affected and your case may go on for over a year.  You need to remember how you felt right after your accident.
  • Keep all the documents for your car’s repair, including estimates and photographs.  The damage to your car can support the severity of your injuries.
  • Locate and/or obtain a copy of your car insurance policy.  I will want to review whether you have additional insurance coverage available.

These are just some of the things you must be doing from the moment you are able to.