So you have been in a car accident that wasn’t your fault and have been left with a damaged vehicle and physical injury. Your work is suffering, so is your income, and your family is anxious. You’re not sure how long you will be recovering either.
On top of all this direct damage suffered by you, there are other hassles — primarily those of the legal kind.
If you were adequately covered, your insurer will likely sort you out financially during this time.
But it may not be as straightforward recovering compensation from the insurer of the person who injured you.
What’s an Adjuster?
The insurance company sends over a representative, also known as a claims adjuster, after a claim has been made by someone against their insured.
The purpose of this is to take your version of the event, ask you a number of questions, determine if you are legible for an offer, and perhaps make you an offer.
Always remember that the adjuster is on the side of the person who hit you. They are not interested in establishing the truth, only in gleaning information that can make their client look less culpable or more innocent, and bring down the final settlement price by as much as they can.
If you haven’t got a clue on how to deal with this person, and are automatically wary of anyone who claims to represent an insurance company, this write-up may prove to be helpful.
Here are some of the most important things to keep in mind when you are dealing with an adjuster on your own.
Don’t be intimidated
If you are convinced of your innocence, or the strength of your case, don’t get intimidated by the adjuster’s experience, brilliant negotiation tactics, or just the whole idea of dealing with such a professional.
You know your case best. For the adjuster yours is just another claim that he is investigating; it’s very likely he is not well-versed with the details.
You should not be dealing with an adjuster on your own if you doubt you’d be able to stand your ground with confidence.
Don’t be taken in by their friendly manner
An adjuster will be good to you and try to establish a warm rapport with you to make the conversation less tense and slightly easier for both of you.
But don’t read too much into their friendly manner. They are trying to make you open up so that you accidentally slip in something you really shouldn’t.
With friendliness comes the danger of ending up saying more than you want. Therefore, respond to their friendly banter politely, but don’t get carried away and at no point make the mistake of thinking the adjuster has your good in his heart.
Watch what you say – only answer what you must
The nature of their job demands them to be good with words, sometimes even in a sly manner. I wouldn’t hold an adjuster’s slipperiness around words against him – it is his job, after all, to look for loopholes in your account so that the company can use that against you and hold on to as many dollars as it can.
If the above means not saying much, it’s fine. It’s absolutely fine to be repetitive with your answers too.
Don’t lose your temper
There is no point in going to any extreme with an adjuster, because he is just the messenger, albeit a powerful one. Neither losing your temper nor breaking down emotionally is going to help. He is not responsible for your woes, his company’s policies, or even his client’s actions towards you.
If you don’t want to end up hurting yourself even more, refrain from lashing out at the adjuster or pleading with him to do something about it. That is neither his role, nor does he have the authority for it.
Remember, you want to create a good impression on the adjuster. The adjuster’s notes will have tremendous bearing on how the insurance company and its lawyers deal with you, and may even influence the final verdict.
Don’t settle if you’re under treatment
If you are still undergoing medical treatment, you might want to wait until you’ve heard your doctor’s final verdict and how your injury will recover over time. In cases of permanent injury, do not settle with the adjuster. You will have to understand the full extent of the physical and emotional injuries suffered by you, including a potential loss of earnings, before you agree to any terms.
It’s best to get legal representation.
Because of the force of their arguments, dealing with an accomplished adjuster can sometimes be akin to walking on eggshells for a layman. You just don’t know when you’ll slip, and since you expect to slip, you are further anxious, thus reinforcing a vicious circle.
With legal representation you can rest assured your best interests are being put forward. There is no harm in speaking to a personal injury lawyer for legal counsel to learn where you stand and how best to proceed. Do it for your peace of mind if nothing else.
Speaking to an expert negotiator requires you to know your case well (which you must do) and not get swayed by words. You want to play this smartly. Take emotions out of the equation, and be firm and polite in your responses. Nothing wrong with friendliness either, as long as you stay firmly in control of yourself.
Author Bio: Michael Georgiou M.A of Business Communications, Marketing/Advertising University of North Carolina at Pembroke. Michael Georgiou is a dynamic business and marketing professional in the marketing division of Wilson Law, PA based in Raleigh, NC. He is an entrepreneurial guru with a proven success record in creative strategy, online branding, project management, and communication projects in both public and private sectors.
Image courtesy of Naypong at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.