Getting involved in a road accident is not a pleasant experience, and it can obviously have life changing – or even ending – consequences. And in the minutes, days, and months afterward, the last thing you need is to have to deal with pushy insurance adjusters, who will try and play every trick under the sun to reduce your chances of getting any money back for your vehicle, or compensation if it was someone else’s fault.
Effectively, you are dealing with highly trained professionals when you are at your weakest, and there are many tricks that insurers can play to take advantage of the situation. With this in mind, here are a few things you need to understand – knowing these tactics will help you ensure that no matter what your condition, you won’t make a mistake you end up regretting.
Get you to talk
First of all, don’t say a word to anyone after the crash – and there’s a good chance of the at-fault driver’s insurer giving you a call. They’ll say they are just checking up on you to see if you are OK, but any hint that you are could well go against you when it comes to settling your claim. Even if you are feeling great, there’s no guarantee you don’t have a delayed reaction injury – and the insurance company knows this. If you say you are fine, then when those symptoms eventually arrive, you will have already undermined your claim in a big way. So, the only contact you should have is with the driver of the other vehicle – and the only thing you should share is license and contact details. If the insurer calls you, respectfully decline to answer any question.
Do some digging
Even if you feel fine, it is essential you go the hospital and have a full checkup. It’s also important to follow your doctor’s orders. Every appointment you skip or every treatment you turn down will be noted, and make no mistake about it – your insurance adversary will find out. Always err on the side of caution and take every last piece of medical advice, even if you think it’s unnecessary. And make sure your doctor knows everything – from the effects of your whiplash to the slight strain on your toe or increase in headaches. Your insurer may also do a lot of digging around the crash site, trying to find evidence that implies you might not be telling the truth. So, document your crash if possible, and find as many witnesses to make a statement if you can. Ultimately, you are going to have to have evidence to back up everything you say should the case ever make it that far – which it might not, as we will see in a moment.
Get you to settle
You might not hear from an insurer for ages, but then out of the blue, you will get a call making you an offer. It might sound like a victory, but it is far from it in the vast majority of cases. It’s just the first step in the negotiation process, and taking the initial offer is going to mean you will lose out. Don’t be afraid to tell them that you have a definitive list of personal injury lawyers you are considering, and if their offer is insufficient, they can expect to hear from at least one of them. You don’t have to be rude, however – and, in fact, doing so might reduce your claim further. But the chances are that they will decide to make you an offer that is much more line with what you are due.
The ‘approved’ body shop
Let’s assume that an insurer has agreed to fix your car, but suggests you take it to one of their approved body shops. In short, don’t agree. There have been a rising number of stories in recent years about body shops being forced to use inferior, less expensive materials and parts when repairing cars, all under the instruction of the insurer. If your vehicle is going to be fixed, it deserves to look exactly as it did before the crash – nothing less.
Finally, be very cautious if an insurer decides to release some of the funds to you at an early date. Check your receipt and any paperwork to ensure that taking the payment doesn’t release them from any other claim, such as for personal injury damages. Again, it’s another dirty trick that you need to be aware of.
Insurance adjusters are not bad people – they just have a job to do. Your job is to make sure that you don’t make it easy for them. Good luck!