What Not to Do if an Insurance Company Calls after an Auto Accident
Following an auto accident, one of the first steps taken by each involved party is to exchange insurance information. While this step is necessary in order to begin a claims process for any resulting damages, it also opens the door for potential phone calls from the opposing insurance company.
Why Would an Insurance Company Call Me?After an auto accident, it's imperative that you take several steps to protect your legal rights. From the other driver or drivers, you'll collect their name, home address, phone number, insurance company, policy number, driver's license number, and license plate number, and they will do the same for you.
After all involved insurance companies have been alerted to the accident, each begins an investigation to determine which party is legally liable for the crash. Your insurance company will receive a copy of the accident report as well as any additional evidence. The opposing insurance company will do the same, and both will begin conducting interviews to collect as much evidence as possible.
The first individuals on their call list will be those involved in the actual crash - meaning you and any passengers that were also in your vehicle. However, you'll want to be wary of these phone calls. While their intent might seem innocent enough, there is more you should know.
The Best Interests of the Insurance CompanyInsurance companies are invested in protecting the financial interests of their own organization. It's in their best interest to deny as many claims as possible and work to negotiate the least expensive settlement possible for all others. Following an auto accident, their internal investigation serves to either shift liability away from their insured or to apportion the degree of fault so that their insured holds a lesser percentage.
In the first few hours or days following an accident, the opposing insurance company may contact a victim to immediately offer them a settlement. Often this initial amount is much less than the actual amount of damages owed to the victim. Otherwise, the insurance company may contact you in order to ask a variety of questions.
These questions will be asked in an attempt to extract information that the insurance company can use to disprove your case. Whether the questions revolve around facts about the case or the injuries incurred from the accident, anything said over the phone to the opposing insurance company can serve as a basis for reducing the value of your claim, or refusing to pay you anything at all. When the best interests of the insurance company are in mind, these phone calls can be very detrimental to your case.
What Not to Do When the Opposing Insurance Company CallsWhen the opposing insurance company calls, refrain from engaging in a lengthy conversation. Anything you say can and will be used against you. Instead, point the adjuster on the line to your auto accident attorney who can handle the call for you. A trusted auto accident attorney will know what to say and what not to reveal to an insurance company so that your claim has the best chances of being awarded compensation.
If an opposing insurance company gives you a phone call, keep these tips on what not to do in mind:
- Do Not Agree to a Recorded Statement. Failing to include key details or having your words misconstrued and used against you are very real possibilities when your conversation is recorded. You have no legal obligation to be recorded, and it is against the law for an adjuster to record your phone call without your explicit permission. Decline to be recorded.
- Do Not Discuss Your Injuries. Auto accident injuries can appear over a few days or can worsen over time. Never discuss your injuries with an adjuster.
- Do Not Offer Phrases Like "I'm Fine." While this seems like a natural response when someone on the phone asks how you're doing, an adjuster can take this literally and move to decline your injuries.
- Do Not Get Angry. Auto accidents can be very frustrating. However, taking your anger out on the insurance agent can hinder your case. Remain calm and polite.
- Do Not Take Blame For the Accident. Regardless of what you think did or did not happen, offering blame for the accident or even just your side of the events can give an adjuster the information he or she needs to dismiss your case.
Never Take On the Insurance Company AloneIt's all too easy to get wrapped up in a phone conversation and reveal too much. You may not even realize it's happening. An adjuster may call just to see how you're healing, but their subtle questions can actually unravel your entire case.
Never take on the opposing insurance company alone. Working with an experienced auto accident attorney, you allow yourself and your case the best possible outcome.