How Do Insurance Companies Investigate a Car Accident?
Getting into a car accident unlocks what can be a confusing and difficult process for anyone who does not work in the insurance industry. Filing an insurance claim is not as simple as it seems. The insurance company receiving your claim does a lot behind the scenes to evaluate your claim – including attempts to save money by undervaluing your losses. The more you know about how insurance companies investigate car accidents, the better you can protect your rights as an injured party.
The Company Assigns a Representative to Your Claim
Once you have opened a claim by reporting your car accident, a representative from the insurance company will contact you. This representative is called the insurance claims adjuster. This is the person in charge of investigating your claim on behalf of the insurance company itself.
The most important thing to know about an insurance claims adjuster is that he or she is not on your side. The adjuster works for the insurance company; his or her goal is to save the insurance company money on your claim. The insurance adjuster will be looking for reasons to deny benefits or reduce your payout.
The Claims Adjuster Interviews You and Asks for a Statement
During your conversations with the claims adjuster, be careful not to say anything that could place fault with you. Do not admit fault outright or apologize for the collision. Do not speculate about the other driver’s fault, either. Stick to the facts of the case as you know them, and if you don’t know the answer to a question, say so. Do not let the claims adjuster pressure you into answering any questions you do not wish to answer.
Do not agree to give the adjuster a recorded statement. No law in Kentucky obligates you to do so. The recorded statement can provide information the adjuster can use against you later. If you do not yet understand the extent of your injuries, for example, saying something preemptively could paint you as an unreliable witness if a doctor contradicts you later. Instead, tell the adjuster that you will be submitting a written statement at a later date when you know more about the accident and your injuries.
The Adjuster Reviews All Submitted Information and Evidence
After talking to you, the claims adjuster will reach out to others involved in the car accident for more information. The adjuster will then review the evidence you submitted with your claim. This evidence could include a copy of your police report, eyewitness statements, and photographs and videos. The adjuster may also make an in-person visit to inspect property damage or other forms of physical evidence.
The Insurance Company Asks to Access Your Medical Records
At some point during the insurance company’s investigation, you may receive a form in the mail with a request for your permission to access your medical records. Do not sign this form before taking it to a car accident attorney. Insurance companies often utilize these forms to access a claimant’s full medical history – not just the records relevant to the claim. The purpose of this is to find a pre-existing injury or condition to use against you.
The Adjuster Makes a Preliminary Recommendation
After the insurance claims adjuster has investigated the car accident, he or she will make a preliminary recommendation to the insurance company to either accept or deny your claim. If you receive notice of a denial, the insurance company must give you a reason. If you do not agree with the reason, you or your attorney can request an internal review of your claim. You may be able to submit further evidence to support the review and achieve a different outcome.
If the insurance company accepts your claim, it will offer you a settlement to cover your losses, including medical bills and property repairs. You will have the opportunity to negotiate the settlement amount. Use an attorney to help you negotiate if you have a complicated claim involving a liability dispute or catastrophic injuries. A lawyer will make sure you do not settle for less than you deserve. A lawyer can also represent you should your car accident claim go to trial in Kentucky.