You will certainly have to deal with an insurance company while trying to seek compensation through a personal injury claim. The bitter truth is that no insurance company would be interested in fairly compensating you for your injuries. They just care about one thing: saving as much money as possible. Insurance companies hire specialists called insurance adjusters to help them achieve this goal. The insurance adjuster would aim to reduce the impact of your claim. In this blog, let’s get to know about insurance adjusters, their tactics, and how to deal with them and get the best settlement in your personal injury claim.
Who is an Insurance Adjuster?
An insurance adjuster is an individual who works with the insurance company to process claims submitted by the insureds or claimants. They would investigate and examine the facts of each case and decide an acceptable claim settlement based on the insured’s policy provisions. They would examine claims for property damage or personal injury to decide how much the insurance company should pay. For that, they interview plaintiffs and witnesses, check the property, and conduct further research, such as reviewing police reports.
Role of Insurance Adjusters in the Personal Injury Lawsuit
An adjuster is assigned to a claim when an insured individual files a claim with the insurance company. The adjuster will then open a claim file and gather the required information. He must provide the insurance company with a report that details the claim and the amount the insurer should pay to resolve it. The adjuster will also look over the insurance policy to see what portions of the claim are covered and which aren’t.
In a personal injury case, the adjuster’s primary responsibility is to analyze an accident claim to establish if the person is liable under the insurance policy. The liability adjuster will attempt to investigate the case’s liability first. They accomplish this by obtaining a police report, taking photographs of the damage, and recording testimonies from all parties involved and third-party witnesses.
The insurance company requires information on the personal injury lawsuit and the injuries to determine “reserves” for the case, which are estimates of how much they could have to pay if their insured is at fault. After the investigation, the injuries or treatment will be examined by the insurance company. Your medical history, particularly as it relates to the injuries you sustained in the vehicle accident, will be investigated by the insurance adjuster. The significant role of an insurance adjuster is
- Creating accident and injury reports
- To examine the accident claims
- Examine insurance policies and coverage
- Taking care of any accident victims’ settlements or payments
- Examine the medical record
What Documents do Adjusters Need?
Claim adjusters work for insurance companies to assist them in understanding what happened in an accident and how much they may have to payout under their policies. Insurance adjusters look for several things during their investigation, including evidence of the crash, injuries, treatment proof, and evidence of being at fault. To support their work on a claim, adjusters will need the following
- Witness testimony report
- Future treatment estimation
- Damages or proof of the loss
- Medical records
- Receipts and bills of treatment
- Damaged and lost property valuations
Decision-Making Process of an Insurance Adjuster
Insurance adjusters in personal injury claims typically evaluate the same variables that judges do when determining the value of a claim. These elements include lost income, actual expenses (include previous medical bills and future medical bills), pain and sufferings, and additional harmful consequences of the claimant’s injuries. Other than this, the adjuster also considers two more factors: Claimant’s case strength and policy limit.
There is no legal requirement to provide more than the policy limit. An insurance company will never pay more than the insurance policy’s maximum amount. For example, if the at-fault driver has $1, 00,000 in liability insurance, the insurance company will never pay out more than $1, 00,000 in connection with the collision. If your damages exceed the at-fault party’s coverage limits, you’ll have to seek payment from them directly or you have the right to sue the defendant.
Claimant’s Case Strength
If the plaintiff has a strong case, the insurer is more likely to give a greater settlement because the plaintiff’s court victory is practically assured. As the claimant is more likely to go to court and lose, the insurer is more inclined to offer a lesser settlement if the plaintiff’s case is weak.
How do Adjusters Determine the Settlement Value?
After the investigation process, the insurance adjuster looks at the chances of winning if they file a personal injury claim. He will analyse how much a jury could award if you go to court. Based on the findings, he will determine the settlement for personal injury claims. The insurance adjusters consider the factors such as your medical expenditures, policy limits, and total loss due to the collision. To get at this amount, insurance adjusters frequently employs some variation of a formula.
The adjuster first sums up the medical expenditures associated with the incident and then multiplies this base amount by 1.5 to 5, depending on the severity of the injuries. If your injuries aren’t too significant, double this sum by 1.5 or 2 to get the number of your special damages. If the injuries are serious, the sum may be multiplied by 5 or even ten if the injuries are very incapacitating. After determining the number of special damages, the analyst combines your lost wages to establish the total amount of your settlement. An example of a settlement formula for severe injuries is
Consider, the vehicle damage is $6000, lost income is $4000, medical damage is $5000, and the general damage is $50000 ($5000 multiplied by 10). This claim’s value would be $25000 according to the formula. Keep in mind, however, that any settlement formula is simply a preliminary estimate of the value of your injury claim, and the resulting amount is only intended to serve as a starting point for settlement negotiations. In some cases, the settlement figure was most likely calculated with claims adjusting software. Insurance companies use a variety of tools to determine the value of claims.
Tools Used to Determine the Value of Personal Injury Claims
Insurance firms uses claims adjustment software to examine claims. It estimates a case’s prospective value to help an insurance adjuster make a settlement offer. The insurance adjuster enters data from the injured party’s medical records into these programs and assigns severity points to the injury. Hundreds of injury codes are utilized in most programs to indicate the severity of an injury and assign a monetary value to it.
Colossus is a leading provider of computer services in the United States. It is frequently used by insurance companies to calculate the injury claim and to decrease the amount they payout to settle claims. When filing a personal injury claim against an insurance company, it’s essential to work with an attorney to ensure your claim is correctly examined and not discounted by a computer program.
How Claims are Settled by Adjusters?
The adjuster’s job is to settle the case on the best available terms for the insurance company. You will be up against the adjuster. Before a lawsuit is filed, the adjuster is crucial in deciding how much the corporation will pay to settle your case. The adjuster has the authority to reach an agreement with you over the phone regarding the ultimate settlement amount.
The first offer of settlement will be a percentage of the case’s final value, as determined by the insurer. For example, the insurer may stipulate that the initial offer is for 40% of the case’s value. Procedures vary depending on the insurer.
Adjusters typically have discretion to change the first offer depending on whom they’re dealing with, which is an important point to remember. The first offer will almost always be lower if the adjuster is dealing with an unrepresented plaintiff. After that, you can usually negotiate with the insurance company to get a better payment.
Once you and the adjuster have reached an agreement on a settlement amount, the adjuster will email you the papers needed to complete the deal. However, adjusters’ ability to settle claims on their own is limited to a set of dollar amounts. The restrictions are determined by the adjuster’s level of experience.
Unless you’re likely to get an offer higher than that authority, an adjuster will not reveal the limitations of his or her authority. If this is the case, the adjuster will need to get approval from a higher, who is commonly referred to as a claims supervisor or claims manager. If the adjuster has to consult with a supervisor about your settlement offer, get a date from either one and then send a letter to the adjuster confirming that date.
Tactics Followed by Insurance Adjusters
When it comes to a personal injury claim, insurance adjusters are not on the victim’s side or pals. They are linked to the case to ensure that the maximum money possible is paid to the victim of the incident to avoid a lawsuit. Their goals are opposite to yours. The insurance adjusters follow the below tactics to make the plaintiff accept a low settlement offer.
Trying to rush you into a conversation
The insurance adjuster’s goal is to convince you to accept a settlement before a trial at court. As a result, they will force you to agree with a low ball settlement offer soon after the accident. They will engage you in discussion and attempt to persuade you to take the money offered by the insurance company.
Don’t accept the initial settlement. It may take a few days for your body to show signs of injury. Some injuries will be minor and, it may take more days to experience the severity of the damages. Before signing anything, it’s a good idea to speak with a personal injury lawyer.
Seeking permission to view your medical records
Medical records might be crucial in personal injury claims. To verify that your injuries are real, your insurance adjuster may ask for your medical records. First, determine if it is reasonable to request your medical records. Provide the medical records which are related to your present injury. If you have any previous injury that is related to the recent injury, they may argue that it is the injury you got from your previous accident or something else.
The insurance adjuster wants to access your medical records to look for the information that can be used to lower the settlement value of your case. Don’t grant them the authority to access your full medical report. You should never sign the medical authorization form or don’t give verbal permission to obtain full information. So it’s our privacy to keep the medical record safe.
Requesting more information
Some insurance adjusters may convince you that they won’t pay your claim until you provide more information. This information is not required to be shared with an insurance agent. Remember that the insurance company is trying to find a way to blame you for the accident and hence deny your claim. Don’t submit any additional information regarding the accident before discussing it with your attorney. If they ask for further information, remind them that it’s all in the police report they got.
Low settlement offers
When your insurance adjuster makes a low settlement offer, tell them this offer is too low and unacceptable. They may lower your settlement offer since they do not have all your data about your injuries. So, create a letter in which you detail all of your injuries and explain your medical expenditures are greater than your offer. Keep a specific amount in your mind, and don’t accept until you’ve received a fair settlement for your injuries.
They dispute the severity of your injuries
It is fairly usual for vehicle insurance companies to try to dispute the severity of your injuries as a result of the accident. This usually occurs when they are unable to attribute your new injuries to a pre-existing medical condition. Discussing the degree of your injuries with the insurance company or other drivers should be avoided at all costs. During the claims procedure, whatever you say can be used against you.
Giving you fictitious deadlines
One of the trickery strategies of the insurance adjuster is giving you a fictitious deadline. This is the method they use to rush you into making a rapid decision. Don’t be fooled by their bogus deadlines. Accepting the low ball settlement is not a good idea. You should not agree to the settlement until you have a complete picture of your accident-related expenses. You can get assistance from an experienced attorney who is familiar with the statute of limitations and deadlines for personal injury.
Getting in touch with a plaintiff as soon as possible after an accident
The insurance adjuster may call you soon after an accident to introduce themselves and gather information about the accident. When an insurance adjuster calls you the first time, don’t explain deeply about the injury. Keep in mind that you should never apologies or say, I’m sorry, I made a mistake. They will use these words against you during the case. Don’t say anything about eye witness from your side. Avoiding their calls is the simplest approach to prevent this strategy. Get help from a lawyer for your safe.
Delay in making a settlement
Another strategy used by insurance adjusters is to prolong your claim as long as possible when dealing with bodily injury claims. The insurance adjuster knows the tactics to delay the settlement process. The longer an adjuster can delay your claim, the more time they have to keep their money and generate interest. Another motive for the delay is to annoy the injured individual in the hopes that he or she will accept a low settlement offer, allowing the insurance company to save money. Personal injury lawyers can ensure that your insurer treats you properly and expedites the process.
Dealing with the Insurance Adjuster to Get the Best Settlement
Hiring a lawyer is one of the finest ways to deal with an insurance company. This legal expert is knowledgeable about the laws and how to apply them effectively. And keep the following points in your mind while dealing with the insurance adjuster.
- File a claim quickly after an accident
- Keep detailed records of the accident.
- Do not accept the first offer
- Consult a lawyer
- Send the insurance adjuster a detailed Demand Letter.
- Decide a specific settlement in mind
- Highlight emotional points in your favour
- Wait patiently for a response
- Keep clear evidence
- Make a written confirmation of the accepted offer
Insurance adjusters are compensated to keep expenses low, so they’ll have a few tricks up their sleeves. Insurance companies do not always make accident claims simple, and they frequently do not fully participate in the claims process until they are compelled to. An expert personal injury lawyer can work with the insurance company to reach an agreement.
The personal injury attorney will conduct their investigation into the occurrence, collect evidence to prove liability, and manage all insurance carrier talks on your behalf. Having someone on your side will help you. Insurance adjusters use a variety of tactics to undervalue your claim, and personal injury lawyers are well-versed in them. Your lawyer will battle for you to get a significantly better chance of receiving maximum compensation for your injuries and other losses.