If you’re ever arrested on suspicion of a crime, the arresting officer must inform you of your Miranda rights, which include a warning that everything you say can and will be used against you. The same principle holds true in a conversation with an insurance adjuster; the difference is that the insurance adjuster is not required by law to inform you of that fact.
Granted, a conversation with an insurance adjuster probably won’t feel like an interrogation. On the contrary, the adjuster will ask to hear your side of the story and try to make it seem as though you are two friends having a pleasant chat. Keep in mind, however, that an insurance adjuster is not your friend. She is not there to help you because that is not her job. Her job is to help the insurance company that employs her by finding reasons to deny your claim or pay out less than you deserve.
If an insurance adjuster calls you, you have the right to remain silent. You don’t need to have a conversation, and it is often advised that you don’t speak with an adjuster at all before talking to a lawyer. If you do speak to the adjuster, however, here are some suggestions about what to say and what not to say.
1. Tell the Whole Truth and Nothing But the Truth
Stick to the facts as much as possible. Don’t exaggerate, make unfounded speculations, or purposely omit details. If you cannot remember exactly what happened, say so.
2. Don’t Editorialize
Unless you had a radar gun pointing at the other vehicle, you have no way of knowing for sure that the other driver was speeding, so don’t say that he was. Also, don’t make value judgments about the other driver’s state of mind, like, “He must have been crazy!” If it’s not a verifiable fact, don’t mention it.
3. Don’t Self-Diagnose
Although whiplash is a very real and potentially serious injury that often occurs in a car accident, it is also a trigger word that tells insurance adjusters that you may be making a false claim. Unless you’ve seen a doctor and received a diagnosis of whiplash, don’t say the word. If necessary, describe the pain you are feeling in your neck.
4. Don’t Apologize
If you say, “I’m sorry,” you may mean, “This is a regrettable incident, and I wish it had not occurred,” but an insurance adjuster is likely to interpret it to mean, “I accept at least some responsibility for the accident.” Thus, a well-meaning but thoughtless pleasantry could cost you damages you would otherwise be owed.
An attorney can explain to you how to speak to an insurance adjuster, or better yet, act as an intermediary so you don’t have to. Contact a law office for more information.