What to do when an adjuster is being difficult.
Not only has something really bad happened to you, now you have to deal with an insensitive, condescending insurance company representative. You have been made to feel as though you are doing something wrong by making a claim on an insurance policy. You have been made to feel this way even though you did nothing to cause the automobile collision that has caused you to miss work and seek medical treatment. In the twenty years we have represented people in automobile collisions, this is the most common complaint and one of the top reasons people seek an attorney. Whether this is your first claim or your third claim, the insurance adjuster has much more experience than you in handling these matters and you may even feel as though everything is stacked against you. Even with this as a background, I still insist that not everyone (even those who are mistreated) needs a lawyer to settle their claim. Below is a suggestion of five things you can do when the insurance adjuster is acting let’s say “unreasonably.” As always, this is merely educational and does not constitute legal advice:
- Hit the “Reset” button. We all have bad days. However, you do not deserve to be bullied. Whether this is your insurance company or the insurance carrier for another person, there is absolutely no excuse for an insurance adjuster to make you feel little or take things out on you. As difficult as it may be, taking the high road and making an effort to treat the adjuster nicely can do little harm and may allow you to get beyond what is hopefully just a single bad experience. The first thing I recommend is allowing a day or two to pass before communicating with the insurance adjuster. In the day or two, reflect on whether you could have done anything differently in how you approached the adjuster. Next, after reflecting on what happened, I recommend that you raise your issues with the adjuster and explain to her how she made you feel. You are likely one of dozens of claims the adjuster is handling and there is a good chance you are not alone in the way you were treated. It is important to remember that the insurance adjuster has to keep notes of your contact with her and that each of the calls will have been recorded. Losing your temper and yelling at the adjuster will lead to a loss of credibility. Above all else, stand up for yourself and do not let the insurance adjuster bully you.
- Become informed. On our web site at Foust Law Office, we have provided educational material to help you understand the claims process. I strongly encourage you to review all of this information, beginning with our guide, Abandoned on the Road: A Guide to Insurance In Montana. Insurance adjusters handle automobile insurance claims in multiple states. It is nearly impossible for the adjuster to stay up to date on the laws in every state they service. Reviewing our materials will allow you the opportunity to have a firmer understanding of how the process works in Montana and may put you a step ahead of the difficult person assigned to your case.
- Contact her supervisor. If you continue to have difficulty with you insurance adjuster, you can ask that you be put in touch with her supervisor. I recommend this step if the insurance adjuster continues to act in a condescending manner after you have raised your concerns and expressed the way you were made to feel. Again, it is important to understand that the adjuster has likely kept notes of each of your conversations and that the conversations have been recorded. It is also important to understand that the adjuster’s supervisor may not be the most sympathetic to your complaints. While each adjuster may have 100 or more claims to manage, the supervisor is responsible for several adjusters and may have several hundred claims to supervise. However, if this is the tenth or twentieth complaint, changes may be in the cards for this adjuster.
- Ask to change adjusters. Most people do not realize that they can request that the claim be re-assigned to another insurance adjuster. Insurance companies re-assign claims regularly and asking a carrier to change adjusters is not particularly difficult. They tend to work in the same cubicle area. If the insurance company allows you to change claims adjusters, it is likely a one-shot deal and repeated requests are not likely to be granted.
- Contact the Insurance Commissioner. Insurance companies in the state of Montana are regulated by the Office of the State Auditor, Commissioner of Securities and Insurance. Raising a complaint with the state Auditor’s office is available to people who are not represented by an attorney. If you have hired an attorney, the Auditor’s office will ask you to contact your attorney and will tell you to express your concerns with your attorney. The State Auditor can be reached at: 406-444-2040. They are located at 840 Helena Ave., Helena, MT 59601.