How to Communicate With An Insurance Company
Insurance claims always bring you in contact with insurance companies. Whether the claim is against your own insurer or that of an at fault party, you'll have to speak with claims adjusters and insurance investigators.
Dealing with these companies can be similar to walking through a minefield though. This is because, first and foremost, insurers try to protect their bottom line, even when you're their own client.
These companies understand the critical nature of insurance claims. They know that for every claim they pay out, they have less to add to their bottom line. As such, they will investigate your claim thoroughly and seize on any opportunity to reduce or refuse your claim. This is why they employ very skilled lawyers, loss adjusters and investigators.
At The Curtis Firm, we have more than a decade of experience dealing with insurance companies of all sizes. We are well aware of the difficulties that people face when dealing with these companies. We are also aware of the unfortunate results of failing to take care when communicating with insurers.
This is why we have adapted our practice to always help the little guy fight for his rights. If you or a loved one resides in and around Tacoma and you need to process an insurance claim, we recommend that you contact the attorneys at The Curtis Firm.
This guide helps you understand how insurance companies operate and provides tips on how to deal with them.
How insurance companies operate
When you are involved in an accident or a personal injury case covered by insurance, the appropriate step is to file an insurance claim. When you do this, an employee of the insurance company, called an ‘adjuster', will be assigned to your file. The job of this adjuster is basically to investigate your claim and figure out how much your claim is worth.
As the adjuster is an employee of the company, their loyalty is not really to you. As such, it's part of their job to make profit for the company and find ways to pay out as little as possible.
The general goal of insurance companies is to settle your case out of court and avoid a personal injury lawsuit. This is because going to court can often be an expensive option for them. So, when the adjuster gets in contact with you, they use a variety of tactics to achieve their objectives.
They may give you a low-ball offer and tell you that's the best you can get. In many other instances, they will probe the circumstances of the incident and try to catch you saying something that affects your claim. Since these adjusters sound very convincing, they are capable of persuading many to accept their settlement offers, leading them to believe that is what their claim is worth.
In many instances, they may even tell you that you don't really need a lawyer to process your claim. That is often false of course, and is simply a tactic to get you making decisions you don't know a lot about on your own.
One of the first things you should know is…
You are not required to speak with the other party's insurer
There's no legal requirement that you speak with the other party's insurer or its representative. Although, depending on the circumstances of your case, it may be necessary to contact your own insurer.
Nevertheless, you may have to contact the other party's insurance in instances where that party is clearly at fault and they have neglected to communicate with their insurance company. This will bring to their notice your claim and the severity of the injury suffered.
It is important that you do not do this alone though. Contacting them without first speaking to your lawyer might put your chances of obtaining a favorable settlement at risk.
Tips for communicating with the other party's insurance company
The first, and most important, thing you should keep in mind is that the insurance company is not on your side. This is why you should be extra vigilant when communicating with them.
Doing things such as downplaying your injuries will only work against your interest. You may think you are not seriously injured in the aftermath of the accident but things can change quickly.
Note that anything you say to the insurance company can be used against you. They may use this in refuting your claim or in reducing the compensation they're supposed to pay to you.
Importantly, you should only give answers you are sure about. Don't speculate or give opinions as to what you think happened. Provide only the facts and information clarified by your lawyer, the police or other professionals.
Don't agree to have your statement recorded, over the phone or in writing. While you may think this doesn't mean much, a recorded statement will make your words permanent. This can complicate your claim if new information is discovered. For instance, if an unknown injury is later discovered, it can make you seem like a liar and may affect your claim.
There are several other tips to keep in mind. They include the following:
The Insurance Adjuster is not your friend
It's all about business in the end. Maintaining a professional relationship with your claims adjuster is essential. The claims adjuster is not a ‘friend' that you can complain to. Many claims have been lost because the injured victim ‘confided' in the claims adjuster.
Even though your private conversations with the adjuster may not be the true reflection of things, they may use them against you. It is always noteworthy to realize that your words or statements may be documented in the records of the insurance company.
Document every communication
It will further your own cause too if you document everything. Put into writing your communication with the insurance company. You may have a notebook or a mini diary for this purpose. Try and create a ‘paper trail' for your correspondences too. You can do this by sending them a follow-up email or letter.
Give your insurer proof of your loss and ask for the amounts you are entitled to. Being proactive will prevent the insurance company from bullying you.
This is why you shouldn't wait for them before understanding what your claim may be worth. The best way to obtain a good idea of what your claim is worth is to contact a skilled attorney before speaking with the insurer.
Gather your own evidence
Impropriety on the part of the adjuster or representative of the insurance company will serve as leverage for you. If you notice anything out of the norm, document it as well.
Don't agree to or sign anything without consulting an attorney
The insurance company may table before you, documents that need your 'immediate' signature. It is imperative that you do not sign any of these before contacting your lawyer.
Don't sign a confidentiality or non-disclosure agreement without consulting with an attorney. What you sign may significantly reduce your compensation or full policy benefits.
Why you need an attorney before communicating with an insurance company
Insurance companies understand the critical nature of insurance claims. This is why they have their own skilled lawyers at their beck and call. Again, don't forget the insurance company and lawyers are essentially looking out for their own interest. This explains why you also need an attorney to watch out for your own interest.
Here's why you should also retain your own legal counsel:
To explain the legal aspects
Insurance claims can often involve a lot of confusing legal terminology. If you don't understand these, they can work against you in the process of negotiation or discussions with the insurer. An attorney will explain to you what is required and help you out if there are any clauses that you do not understand.
To figure out liability
Insurance companies may try to downplay some of your injuries or try to establish that some of the injuries were probably preexisting. They may want to factor this in when assessing your insurance claim. With an attorney, the chances of this happening are minimal. Your attorney – if skilled and experienced – would have come prepared and will be able to show otherwise.
To advise you on the value of your claim
Insurance claims most times are very tricky. You may not even be fully aware of your possible claims or its full compensation. It is however your attorney's job to appraise you of these things and help you prove the value of the claim.
Get in touch with an attorney today
If you have an insurance claim that necessitates contact with an insurance company, we recommend that you get in touch with us at The Curtis Firm, LLC. James Curtis a skilled negotiator and will personally review your case and help you understand your rights. You can call us at 253-327-1063 or contact us here for a free consultation.