If you have been in an auto accident, you will likely be dealing with an insurance company at some point. It is essential to know what to say and what not to say when the insurance company calls you about your accident settlement check. Learn to protect yourself for the best outcome possible when speaking to insurance companies. Receive the best insurance check you can by paying attention to these key points of the claim process.
Insurance Claim Basics
It’s important to remember that the insurance company, whether yours or the other driver’s, wants to settle your claim as quickly and cheaply as possible. The insurance company has attorneys on their side, so it’s important to be especially careful if you have not yet had the chance to hire an experienced law firm.
Ideally, call experienced attorneys before you speak to the insurance company. Insurance and the legalities around it are complex. Having someone on your side is the right move.
Keep a Clear Head
When the insurance company calls you, you may be nervous or get flustered and not know what to say. Reading this guide will help you know how to communicate with the claims adjuster.
Remain calm and objective when you talk to the insurance company or to anyone regarding your accident.
Information You Can Share
It is completely fine to give the insurance company basic information. Most insurance companies will likely ask for the following information, which you can feel free to share:
- Your name
- The name of others involved in the crash
- The location of the accident
- The date and time of the accident
- The makes and models of the cars involved
- The name of the other driver’s insurance company
Beyond these basics, however, you must be very careful as to what information you give to the car insurance company. It’s so important to educate yourself so that you know how to speak with insurance companies, especially regarding a settlement.
Proceed With Caution
Anything you say can be used against you to lower the amount of compensation you receive. In order to receive a settlement check for the amount you want, there are some things to avoid saying when speaking with the insurance agency. Review these points before or after you have hired a personal injury attorney.
Insurance companies are not the enemy, but it is important to their bottom line that they settle claims in the least expensive way possible. Call someone who knows what to say and do to protect you and get the most money for your claim. Your final settlement depends on it.
It can be tempting to want to provide the adjuster with the full story of the crash as you experienced it. You may want to explain your position or tell them what you think happened. In this case, however, including unnecessary details of the accident can be harmful to your case.
Do not provide the insurance company with details beyond that which is absolutely necessary to answer without speaking to your attorneys.
No Apology Necessary
Do not apologize for causing the accident or for performing any action you believe could have contributed to the accident. As children, we are taught to say we are sorry when we feel we’ve done something wrong, but in this case, an apology can be construed as an admission of guilt.
An insurance adjuster does not need to hear you say that you are sorry for any part of the accident. Your emotions may be running high after an accident, but find a way to remain calm and objective when speaking with the insurance company. Do not apologize or try to explain your way around any details of the accident.
Cause of the Accident
Avoid talking about what happened to cause the accident. You may think you know the exact reasons the car accident happened, but be aware that you know only your side of the story. Car accidents have complex causes; many factors can be at play.
Understand that, in an accident, you don’t know how the other driver may have contributed, and it is critical not to speculate. Insurance companies should not be the ones to determine the causes of an accident. Let your legal counsel speak with insurance about the accident’s cause.
Actions Prior to the Accident
Do not speak with the insurance company about what you did or did not do prior to the accident. Actions can be misconstrued or misinterpreted by you or anyone with whom you are speaking. What happened before the accident may or may not play a part in why the accident happened.
Car accidents can have many causes, and often more than one cause, and you may not have a complete picture of exactly what actions led to the accident. There is no need to give out any information that is speculative. Police reports can be used to help determine the causes, but even they don’t always show the complete picture. Allow your personal injury lawyers to address anything you did prior to the accident with the insurance company.
Admissions of Fault
Do not admit to being at fault for the accident. This can be an admission of liability. Even if you feel you are at fault, a comprehensive overview of the car accident might show that you are actually not at fault or that the cause of the car accident has more than one contributing factor.
In order to receive fair compensation, all aspects of the auto accident must be examined. Your final insurance check can be drastically affected by whether you admit fault, so keep that information private. Let your personal injury attorneys deal with who is or is not at fault.
Avoid speaking with the insurance company about any injuries you have from the car accident. Insurance companies are not medical experts. Do not mention any medical bills or medical expenses upfront, and do not provide medical records unless your attorney says you should.
Personal injury cases are complex. Injuries, whether to you or the other driver, can dramatically impact your settlement. At the very minimum, ask for a free consultation with legal counsel before you begin to discuss any car accident injuries with the insurance agency or anyone else. Your attorneys may need to help you seek damages via a demand letter; information about your injuries can be included in that document, not verbally to insurance personnel.
Lack of Injuries
Likewise, if an insurance adjuster makes any comment or has questions about your lack of injuries, do not answer those questions. Unfortunately, injuries from a car accident may arise days or even weeks after the accident. You may have future expenses that you need settlement proceeds to cover in the future, and you may need to make an injury claim some time after the actual accident.
If the insurance company receives the message that you are uninjured, any future personal injury case could be damaged, leading to less settlement money or a needlessly complicated settlement process for you. You want to avoid having medical bills that you can’t pay because your car accident settlement is compromised by something you say.
Don’t provide any details about your medical treatment or medical history, as this information could be used to argue that your injuries were pre-existing or not related to the accident. An injury case is often complicated, and any history of your past medical care may or may not end up as part of the negotiation process.
Your medical history is private. Make sure you keep it that way by avoiding sharing any of it with the insurance agency.
Additionally, do not provide your past medical records if you are asked for them by the insurance provider or claims adjustor. A personal injury claim may be made at some point, but it’s best for your car accident lawyer to handle all the details of your past medical care, should those details be pertinent to the injury case.
Insurance agencies cannot get your medical records without your permission. Do not give them access to your records either verbally or with written permission without the express consent of your attorney.
If the insurance company asks your permission to record your statement, say no. Recording a statement means your words are on record, and that can prove detrimental to you as your case progresses. Do not speak on a recorded line.
You may, however, wish to provide a written statement to the insurance company. A written statement gives you time to consider your words carefully and offer a complete picture of what happened. Written statements are acceptable, provided your attorney reviews the statement before you submit it to the insurance adjuster.
A car accident can lead to you having to pay for vehicle repair or replacement, lost wages, medical bills for injuries or emotional distress, attorney’s fees, filing fees, and other expenses. The minimum settlement figure an insurance company sends initially may not be enough to properly cover these expenses. It is very important that you do not accept any settlement offers without first speaking to a law firm.
You want to be sure your settlement amount is enough. Financial recovery of enough funds to pay for property damage, lost wages, maximum medical improvement, getting your lawyer paid, and any additional compensation you need to cover your resulting bills is critical. Make sure your settlement covers it all.
Quick Settlement Offers
Insurance companies often offer quick settlements in the form of an initial offer to car accident victims, hoping to avoid paying out much more money later on. However, quick settlements are often much lower than what you’ll receive as a final settlement.
If you’re given an initial offer of a settlement check, consult an experienced car accident lawyer before accepting any settlement offer. Never sign a settlement agreement without first reviewing it with a personal injury lawyer.
A Personal Injury Lawsuit
There are times when a personal injury lawsuit is necessary if you are the injured person. Lost income, future medical treatment, and other accident expenses may need to be taken into account as you seek a settlement to cover expenses.
Do not speak with the insurance agency about any lawsuit you may or may be considering bringing. Let your attorneys communicate with insurance and any other entities about legal matters.
Working For You
Rather than speaking with claims adjusters about your possible injury settlement, allow your car accident lawyers to talk to them on your behalf about personal injury cases. They are skilled in settlement negotiations and can get the settlement offer that is best for you.
Remember that the insurance company works for its own best interest. Your lawyers work for you. Relax and allow them to talk with the adjuster about the details of your case. They know how to protect you and get you the settlement offer you need.
Call an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer
A personal injury attorney is your best source of information when you’ve experienced a car accident. Call Houston Injury Lawyers, PLLC at 936-251-5246 today for the guidance you need. We offer free consultations to help you determine how best to proceed and get the settlement you deserve.