To be clear, most insurance adjusters perform their jobs impeccably and treat claimants fairly and professionally. However, an adjuster's primary goal is to protect the interests of the insurance company, and some unethical adjusters will use unscrupulous tactics to sabotage accident victim's claims so they don't have to pay them. Here are three sneaky tactics you should look out for and how you can protect yourself from them.
An unethical insurance adjuster may use a few tactics to stall paying the damages in the hopes you will get frustrated and either abandon the claim or accept a low-ball offer just to conclude the issue. One tactic is to tell the claimant to contact another party's insurance company about getting the damages paid. The adjuster may allege that the other party was liable and, therefore, responsible for paying the claim.
However, that doesn't mean anything unless the other person's insurance company states, in writing, that it accepts responsibility for paying damages related to the accident. Until that happens, you are well within your rights to proceed with claims with every insurance company involved, including your own.
Another stalling tactic an insurance adjuster may use is to require the claimant to undergo unnecessary arbitration. While arbitration is a good way to settle issues related to an auto accident claim without the expense of going to court, it's not always necessary, especially in situations where liability and damages are clear.
Insurance companies may prefer to use arbitration to settle a claim, but they can't force their policyholders to do it. If an adjuster tries to convince you that arbitration is required to settle the claim, grill them about the issues they feel need to be decided by a third party and why. Additionally, ask who is going to pay for the service. It can cost $6,500 to $11,625 to arbitrate a case worth $80,000. If the adjuster requires you to foot the bill, counter the person's request with an offer to go to court, which may cost less and result in a fairer outcome for you.
Falsely Stating the Person Submitted a Claim Too Late
It's standard practice for insurance companies to request policyholders file their claims as soon as possible after an accident. This allows them to launch their investigations quickly while the evidence and witness memories are fresh.
If you wait to file a claim, an unethical insurance adjuster may try to deny your claim because it's "too late". There are only two times when it would really be too late to file an insurance claim: the statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit has passed, or the long wait has negatively compromised the insurance company's ability to investigate the claim. Even if this second reason was true, it's incumbent on the insurance company to prove the delay resulted in that harm.
Outside of these exceptions, an insurance company is obligated to handle your claim regardless of when you file one. If the person tries to use this tactic on you, just politely remind the adjuster that there is no deadline for filing a claim except for the statute of limitations and you have not passed that date yet.
Denying Part or the Entire Claim for No Valid Reason
A third tactic some insurance adjusters will use is to deny parts of the claim or the entire claim out of hand without providing a valid reason or giving a reason that's at odds with the law, insurance policy, or reality in general. For instance, the adjuster may refuse to pay your lost wages claims because you used some of your paid sick time to recoup from your injuries. This is nonsensical because even the use of your paid time off represents a loss, since you wouldn't have had to use that time if you hadn't been involved in the accident.
If the insurance adjuster attempts to deny the claim without giving valid or legal justification, you may need to go above the person's head and speak to a supervisor or request a new person handle your case.
As noted previously, most insurance adjusters are true professionals who work hard to help people resolve their claims. However, there are always a few bad apples in the barrel. If an insurance adjuster is giving you trouble, contact an auto accident attorney for assistance. You can click here to learn more about auto accident attorneys in your area.