I have heard it is not a good idea to give a recorded statement to an insurance adjuster after my accident. If they insist on giving a statement, what should I tell them?

Q I have heard it is not a good idea to give a recorded statement to an insurance adjuster after my accident. if they insist on giving a statement, what should I tell them?

Ans:

  • Don’t give a recorded statement. Why give a statement whose only purpose is to reduce or defeat the value of your claim? The adjuster will tell you this statement will speed up or remove doubt about the merits of your claim. That is not true, except in the case that the “speed up” involved is going to “speed up” a denial of your claim because you unwittingly made a statement that can be construed as a reason to deny your claim entirely.
  • Don’t give any recorded statement unless your own attorney is present for the call. Let your attorney tell you what not to answer, or explain that you are not going to discuss certain issues in advance.
  • Avoid chit chat with an adjuster. Many adjusters will try to engage you in casual conversation, so you will treat the case with less seriousness than it deserves. This technique is designed to get as many details as possible from you, so that there are more points to be used as inconsistencies later.
  • Do not make any agreements during the recorded statement. All agreements with an insurance company should be in writing. Don’t sign anything without your own lawyer’s assistance. If you agree to certain points “in principle” during a call, you may have left out important details and terms that you expect would be included, but now are too late to include after you orally agreed to only certain points.
  • Do not give the names of any witnesses to the adjuster. Let your lawyer do that later. Doing so will allow the adjuster to contact those witnesses and play the same games with them to twist their words, get them to be more helpful to the insurance company’s point of view, or to confuse their stories into inconsistencies that make them less helpful to your case.
  • Don’t get pressured into stating exact distances, times, or sequences of events. It is perfectly acceptable to state the sequence of events in approximate terms. The more specific your statement about time or distance, the easier it is to undermine your story. You don’t want your version of the accident to appear unreliable.
  • If you give a statement without an attorney present, it is best to provide only limited and general information. Name, dates, and location of the accident should be sufficient for the initial claim information.
  • Stay calm. You don’t have to argue with the adjuster. Sometimes an adjuster will try to argue with you to see if he can make you upset. That is a well known tactic to wear you down and reduce your expectations.
  • Do not guess at what the question is asking. “I don’t know” or “I don’t understand your question” is a perfectly legitimate way to respond if you don’t get what is being asked.
  • Make sure to answer the question in full. If you know what happened in a certain sequence, just make sure you get the whole sequence of information out before the adjuster cuts you off. You must always tell the truth, but only answer the question that was asked.
  • Don’t interrupt the question. Allow the questioner to finish the full question. It might be a curveball question!
  • DO NOT SIGN AN AUTHORIZATION. If asked for a slip to allow them to get your medical records, say no and ask your lawyer to send along what is relevant to your case, not your entire medical history.
  • Avoid answering compound questions with a “yes” or “no”. A compound question has two parts, and one part may be contrary to the other part. You might be misunderstood, and you are the one to suffer for the consequences of that!
  • Don’t let the questioner assume facts, especially if not true. Never leave a wrong assumption uncorrected.
  • Don’t say “In all honesty” or “truthfully”. These phrases suggest that other answers were not given truthfully.

Don’t try to tell the whole story in answer to the first question. Short answers are the best. Trying to tell the whole story at once puts you at risk of leaving importation points out.