Whether you are filing a claim with your insurance company or that of a third party responsible for an accident involving your vehicle, you should know how to deal with auto insurance adjuster. This is the person who will be handling your claim and helping you get results.
Yes, how to deal with auto insurance adjuster can seem intimidating. It often is, but it doesn’t need to be. Consider these tips on how to deal with auto insurance adjuster.
- Document everything. Whether you’re presenting a claim to your own insurance company or a third party’s, you need to document everything. This starts with taking your own photographs and getting copies of accident reports, names and all contact information of the other party in the accident (whether or not that person was at fault), and any witnesses. If you need and seek medical attention for injuries sustained in the accident – or later require such assistance – again, be sure to document and keep copies of everything. Also document any phone calls or keep a ledger of all written communication from the auto insurance adjuster – yours’ as well as the other party’s. This is very important, since you need such detailed documentation to back up your claim for compensation or if you wind up in court in a lawsuit.
- Be firm but aggressive in negotiations. Keep in mind that auto insurance adjusters handle hundreds of claims whereas you’re likely only going to have to do this infrequently, if you’re lucky. Keep in mind that the insurance adjuster will want to settle for as low an amount as possible. That’s his or her job. You need to stick to your ground. Don’t cave in and accept an immediate offer, especially if there are injuries involved.
- Plan to be patient. While getting repairs to your car may not take all that much time, it probably will take longer than you expect. That’s because the auto insurance adjuster assigned to your claim will need to inspect the vehicle and make the calculations to arrive at the amount the insurance company will pay to repair it. You may be asked to obtain written estimates from several repair facilities or the auto insurance adjuster may request that you use one of their preferred repair facilities. Once the estimate is approved by the adjuster, you can have your car repaired. Again, it may take longer for the repairs than you anticipate, especially if the damage is extensive, replacement parts have to be ordered, bodywork and paint work done. If there are injuries involved requiring ongoing treatment, be prepared to wait several months for things to be worked out. If it gets messy and you’re having problems dealing with the other at-fault party’s auto insurance adjuster, consider hiring an attorney.
- Know when to hire an attorney. Sometimes, despite your best intentions and having been reasonable, polite, firm and aggressive, the situation becomes untenable. Communication breaks down or the other party’s auto insurance adjuster low-balls their offer to settle your claim or some other factor comes into play. If you do decide to hire an attorney, keep in mind that you will be required to pay a certain percentage to the attorney if the case is settled out of court, and a higher fee if the case goes to court. In some states, and with some attorneys, the out-of-court lawyer’s fee amounts to 33 percent of the agreed-upon offer. If the case goes to court, your lawyer’s fee may be up to 40 percent. Also, you’ll probably be required to reimburse your health insurance company for payment of any medical assistance or prescription drugs that you claimed while waiting for your claim with the other party’s auto insurance company to settle.