If you ever file a personal injury claim and opt to pursue it absent of legal representation, you will invariably find yourself dealing directly with claims adjusters. You must prepare well in advance for all the games that they play.
Despite their friendly dispositions, these professionals are always committed to saving their employers money. As such, they will do and say just about anything to get you to settle for less than what your claim is worth. Following are six games that insurance adjusters often play.
1. Pretending to Be Your Friend
During your first few conversations with an insurance adjuster, you will be downright charmed. They are often friendly, seemingly concerned, and eager to express their sympathy for your condition.
Far from being an honest effort at providing good customer service, their good manners early-on are an attempt to put you at ease. When relaxed and feeling as though you are talking with a good friend, you are more likely to say something that might harm your case.
Even casual, off-hand comments like responding to inquiries about how you are doing with “I am fine”, could be used against you. As such, it is always important to keep your guard up and treat every conversation with an adjuster as a legal talk, no matter how friendly the adjuster seems.
2. Putting Time Limits on Settlement Offers
One of the easiest ways for claims adjusters to save insurers money is by getting claimants to accept settlements prematurely. People often receive settlement offers in the very first week following their accidents.
More often than not, this is long before people have had the opportunity to recover. It might be even before they have had the chance to schedule follow-up appointments with their regular doctors or be seen by chiropractors or other medical professionals.
By rushing you into a settlement decision, an adjuster is also putting pressure on your recovery and treatment. Should you require additional medical care or more time away from work, the costs of these things will not be accounted for in your proposition. Even if an early offer sounds good and is available only for a limited time, do not agree to it.
You have the legal right to get all of the treatment you require before discussing a final settlement amount and accepting one. Turning an early offer down does not mean that you will have to settle for less money in the future.
3. Discourage You from Getting an Attorney
Adjusters often discourage claimants from acquiring legal help. Their most common strategy for doing so is by convincing injury victims that the costs of hiring attorneys will diminish their settlement amounts.
When approached with this argument, remember:
- Attorney fees will not be taken from money that is meant for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Instead, it will be accounted for separately.
- Hiring an attorney will eliminate the need to have uncomfortable conversations with claims adjusters.
- Statistically, claimants with legal representation receive significantly higher settlement amounts than injury victims who choose to represent themselves.
Winning a personal injury settlement does not always require you to have an attorney. However, you are virtually assured of getting a larger compensation when you pursue a personal injury claim with one on your team.
4. Requesting That You Sign A Release
Claims adjusters often ask injury victims to sign medical release forms. This trick will give them access to all of your medical records. In other words, you may equip them with evidence for settling right away or arguing against your claim.
Signing a medical records release is ill-advised. You can have your medical records released to yourself and determine which portions are relevant to your case. Share the selected information with the adjuster at your discretion.
5. Asking to Record Conversations
Never agree to have your conversations recorded. Recorded conversations can always be used as evidence against you. If adjusters need additional information, they can collect it without first being granted permission to record.
6. Calling When You’re Under the Influence of Pain Medication
Adjusters know that many claimants are taking prescription pain medications throughout the formative stages of the recovery process. Not surprisingly, this is when they call most frequently.
When you are under the influence of pain medications, you might not have the ability to think clearly, respond thoughtfully, and consider how each of your answers might ultimately impact your settlement outcome.
The good news is that you are never required to answer or return an adjuster’s calls right away. Instead, let adjusters leave detailed messages about why they are calling and then respond at a time that is right for you.
Don’t Play Their Games
Although insurance adjusters are well-versed in highly effective tactics for negotiating lower settlement amounts, there are several things you can do to protect yourself when dealing with them. Most importantly, do not answer calls when you are not ready to take them, and do not be fooled by a charming demeanor.
To optimize your chances of winning and getting fair compensation for your losses, you should also consider hiring a reputable attorney.