When you get into a car accident, calling 911 is only the beginning of the investigative process. On your mission to obtain financial compensation for your injuries and losses, you will need to go through an insurance company’s investigation as well. It is important to know what to say and what not to say to the insurance company and its representatives during an investigation. Learn how insurance companies investigate car accidents for more information.
The Assigning of the Insurance Claims Adjuster
First, the insurance company that receives the car accident claim will assign a professional known as the insurance claims adjuster to handle the matter. It is the adjuster’s job to review the facts of the claim, investigate the car accident, and determine whether or not the claimant is eligible for benefits. As soon as the day of or the day after your car accident, expect a phone call from the insurance claims adjuster assigned to your case.
The Initial Phone Call
The initial phone call is how the insurance adjuster obtains more information about the crash from the other side. If the other driver caused your car accident, expect a call from his or her insurance company’s claims adjuster. What you say during your phone call can affect your case, so be careful during conversations.
- Never admit any degree of fault for the car accident.
- Do not speculate about fault for the crash.
- Politely decline to give a recorded statement about the crash.
- State that you will submit a written statement at a later date instead.
- When asked questions about the crash, keep your answers short and simple.
- Do not be afraid to say you don’t know if you don’t have the answer to a question.
Keep in mind that the adjuster’s main goal is to save the insurance company money by paying you as little as possible for your injuries. It is up to you to protect yourself during these conversations. If you do not feel comfortable handling conversations with an insurance claims adjuster on your own, you have the right to hire a car accident attorney to take over for you. An attorney will know how to answer an adjuster’s questions while protecting your legal rights.
After the insurance claims adjuster has obtained information from you, he or she will typically arrange an in-person inspection of your damaged vehicle. An adjuster will often appraise damaged cars in person to see if what is claimed matches the actual property damage. The insurance company may also send investigators to the scene of the car accident to gather more information.
A Review of Evidence
Next, the claims adjuster will carefully review all of the documentation you submitted with your claim, as well as other evidence available from the company’s investigation. This evidence may include a police report, your medical records, photos and video footage available, physical evidence, and witness statements.
When the adjuster is ready to investigate your injuries claimed, expect to receive something along the lines of a Medical Authorization or Release Form. The insurance company will ask for your permission to access your medical records. It is generally in your best interests not to sign this form before bringing it to an attorney. The form may request access to your full medical history rather than only the records relevant to the claim. This is a common tactic to allow the insurer to use a pre-existing injury against you.
The Adjuster Submits a Report to the Insurance Company
In New Mexico, insurance adjusters generally have 45 days to complete their investigations. They may have longer, however, if they request an extension with a valid reason. Once the insurance claims adjuster has completed his or her investigation, the adjuster will submit a report to the insurance company.
The insurance company will either accept or deny your claim based on the adjuster’s recommendation. You will then have the chance to negotiate with the insurance company if you don’t agree with the adjuster’s decision. Hire a car accident attorney to help you with these negotiations for the best possible case result.