Dealing with the other party’s insurance adjuster is one of the least pleasant parts of any personal injury case. You might always feel like you’re on trial as they constantly wait for you to slip up and take your information out of context to suit the other party’s narrative. To help you navigate these choppy waters, here are some of the red flags to look out for when dealing with an insurance adjuster. And remember: if in doubt, contact a lawyer.
1. You don’t hear from the adjuster within two weeks Not hearing from an insurance adjuster within roughly two weeks could indicate that the company is either understaffed or ignoring your claim. This amounts to either a lack of ability or a lack of interest. It could also be a sign that the other party wasn’t insured after all, and has lied about the insurance company providing coverage. Either way, you need to contact a personal injury lawyer to evaluate your case so you know where you stand and can familiarize yourself with your options if the insurance company does attempt to avoid paying your claim.
2. The adjuster asks people about you without your permission If an insurance adjuster shows up and begins asking your neighbors, employer or doctors about you and your case without your permission—or even conducts surveillance on you—this is an invasion of your privacy. This indicates that the adjuster has serious doubts regarding your case or may not believe that you are injured at all. This conduct signals that the insurance company might refuse to pay your claim. You may want to prepare yourself to fight for your case. And the best way to do so is to get in touch with a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.
3. They show up without an appointment As well as asking around about your behavior since the accident, the insurance adjuster may attempt to catch you off guard directly. They might turn up to your home or workplace unannounced to try and catch you doing something you should not be able to do. If they arrive as you are doing some minor home improvements or even mowing the lawn, they may record this as evidence that your injury cannot possibly be as serious as you claim it is—regardless of the statements provided by your medical providers. Some adjusters go as far as taking photographs or video recordings of plaintiffs. They may even turn up at your home to gauge your financial situation so they can estimate how little you might be willing to except. This is another sign that the insurance company is doing its best to avoid paying you. Remember: you have the right to refuse to see the adjuster without an appointment.
4. The adjuster is hard to reach This may be a sign of an understaffed company without the ability to spend the time required on your case, which is concerning enough. But it can also be a sign of the insurance adjuster attempting to delay your case. If they seem to be putting you off and avoiding your calls, they may be trying to put off the resolution of your case for a number of possible reasons. Delays can cost thousands of dollars, so it’s essential to get good legal representation so that your lawyer can advocate for you and hopefully speed up the settlement process.
5. The adjuster insists on a written record of the facts of the accident Firstly, it’s important to know that no injured person is legally obliged to submit a statement to the other party’s insurance adjuster. The insurance company already has the police report, witness statements, their own client’s statement and a wealth of experience in dealing with personal injury accident cases. The real purpose of this statement is to try and catch you out saying something that undermines your claim, giving the insurance company grounds to deny it. In general, submitting a written statement only serves to damage your own case. You can test the adjuster’s good faith by requesting the defendant’s written statement: if they refuse, this is another red flag. You should contact a personal injury lawyer if the insurance adjuster claims that the case cannot be settled without a written statement from you or if you find out that the other party’s version of the accident differs from yours.
6. They won’t state in writing who was responsible for the accident If the insurance adjuster refuses to state in writing which party was responsible for the accident, you may have cause for concern. Even if the adjuster does not believe that their client was wholly at fault, you can still insist on a written confirmation of the degree to which the adjuster believes their client is actually responsible. As California is a comparative negligence state, you are still entitled to compensation if you, as the victim, contributed to the accident to some extent. You can contact a personal injury lawyer for an explanation of the concept of comparative negligence and how this could impact your case in particular.
7. The adjuster advises you not to talk to a lawyer This is the biggest red flag of them all. A good, truthful insurance adjuster should have nothing to hide. This indicates they would benefit in some way from you not being fully aware of your rights or standard industry practices. This is also an “unfair claims practice” according to the insurance code, so may indicate that the adjuster is willing to bend or break other rules too. If any insurance adjuster ever advises you not to talk to a lawyer, you should do precisely the opposite. Contact a reputable personal injury lawyer near you as soon as possible to have your case reviewed.
Sadly, these red flags don’t just apply to the other party’s insurance adjuster. You may come across one or more of these when trying to claim against your own company. However, insurance policies universally contain a cooperation clause, which obligates you to cooperate with your own insurance provider. This makes it especially difficult as you need to strike a balance between protecting your rights but also avoiding violating your policy or breaching your contract in any way. In any such case, it’s a good idea to call a personal injury lawyer for some advice. As the vast majority of personal injury lawyers (including here at Scranton Law) work on a contingency fee basis, you don’t have to worry about being left out of pocket before your case is settled. Contact our team of experienced personal injury lawyers today for a free case evaluation and no-obligation advice.