My friend Jonathan Stein, who is a California personal injury lawyer and a former insurance company adjuster, had posted an excellent message on his California Personal Injury blog. It’s so informative that I am going to copy the entire message here:
Has anyone else ever noticed that when you file a claim you end up dealing with one, two, three or more adjusters? Anyone ever wonder why?
There is a hierarchy of adjusters. It goes something like this:
Step 1: When you first report a claim, if the report comes in as property damage only and it is a clear liability case, the claim is assigned to a fast-track adjuster. These people handle claims quickly, but do not deal with injuries or arguments about fault. Some insurance companies, if not most these days, use these people to deal with any non-injury claim.
Step 2: Your claim involves clear liability (in other words, everyone agrees that the guy who hit the parked car is at fault) and an injury, then you get into an adjuster who handles injury claims. But, as you probably figured, there is a catch. Call them step 2A and step 2B.
Step 2a: 2a involves clear liability claims with subjective injuries. In other words, soft tissue type claims like whiplash. There is one type of an adjuster for these cases, usually someone promoted from step 1.
Step 2b: 2b involves clear liability claims with objective injuries. In other words, someone has a broken bone. This is usually a promotion from 2a.
Step 3: Step 3 involves disputed liability claims with an injury. At this point, most insurance companies do not break claims down into subjective and objective. Disputed liability with an injury usually ends up here.
Step 4: Attorney represented claims. Up until now, steps 1 through 3, the claims involved people trying to do it themselves. Once you get an attorney, you move to step 4. And you are lucky. Seriously. These are better quality adjusters with more experience who understand the system. They try to resolve most cases without lawsuits being filed.
Step 5: Litigation adjusters. These are the adjusters who take step 4 claims after a lawsuit has been filed. Usually, they are the most experienced adjusters and understand how to resolve cases, and what a case is truly worth. These are, in my experience, the best adjusters.
Now, is this true for every insurance company? Of course not. But, it is true often enough. Now you will at least have some idea who you are dealing with and why you may be passed around like a hot potato.