Being involved in a car accident is distressing and dealing with your insurance claim adjuster can be just as stressful. But by being informed, prepared, and cooperative, your experience dealing with your car insurance adjuster can be more productive and less frustrating.
What Is A Car Insurance Claim Adjuster?
A car insurance claim adjuster is an individual assigned to your claim by your insurance company after an accident. The claim adjuster is tasked with reviewing your policy and investigating your claim. Based on the information that the claim adjuster collects concerning your accident and your policy, the adjuster will determine whether your insurance claim is accurate, or if it needs to be adjusted up or down.
The claim adjuster represents the insurance company as they evaluate your insurance claim. While most insurance adjusters treat accident victims fairly, some are less scrupulous and focus on reducing a claimant’s claim to the smallest possible amount. If things ever get too challenging with a car insurance claim adjuster, you can always seek the assistance of an experienced car accident lawyer.
The Insurance Claim Process
In the aftermath of a car accident, filing an insurance claim is probably not at the forefront of your mind. You’ll be more focused on treating any injuries you might have, repairing any damage to your vehicle that might have occurred, and generally managing the difficulties that a car accident can introduce into your life. Time will go by quickly, but at some point you will need to file an accident claim with your car insurance provider.
- Filing A Claim
Filing an insurance claim sooner rather than later is always a good idea. Timely filing a claim sets the tone that you are serious about obtaining compensation or reimbursement from your insurance provider. Additionally, many insurance companies can instruct you on how best to get through the insurance company’s claims process. This can help expedite the processing of your claim since you will do tasks associated with getting the claim approved in a fashion that is familiar to the insurance provider.
Claimants generally can call their insurance company to report their claim, but you should follow up that telephonic claim with a written confirmation of the claim as soon as possible in order to trigger your statutorily provided protections under Texas Prompt Payment Statute, which obligates your insurance provider to adhere to certain deadlines when it comes to handling your insurance claim. The insurance provider should acknowledge receipt of your written notice of the claim within 15 days of receipt.
- Timely Provide All Relevant Documents
You should provide your insurance claim adjuster with any and all documents related to your accident as soon as possible after you obtain them. Documentation is key when filing an insurance claim. Copies of the police report, photographs of the scene of the accident and any property damage, the accident report, repair estimates, repair bills, medical expenses and any legal papers concerning your accident should be provided to your insurance company.
- Insurer Will Conduct An Investigation
The insurance claim adjuster assigned to your claim will begin an investigation into your claim. The claim adjuster will start by reviewing your policy coverage, and then will consider all of the evidence related to your accident. The claim adjuster might request to perform a repair estimate of your vehicle, or might ask that you obtain estimates and submit those estimates to the claim adjuster. The claim adjuster might also require additional information from you, such as completing a proof-of-loss form or submitting to a medical evaluation.
It is always a good idea to cooperate as best as possible with the claim adjuster in order to move the claim process along. The claim adjuster is requesting necessary information in order to make a thorough investigation of your claim to help justify the claim amount.
- Negotiating The Claim
Negotiating the claim with the claim adjuster can be the most nerve-racking part of this process. You are up against a trained claim adjuster, whose interests lie with the insurance company. The task seems almost insurmountable. But by being prepared, asking a lot of questions, and diligently remaining cautious as you work with the claim adjuster, you can make it through and arrive at a fair settlement.
You should never enter negotiations with a claims adjuster with the attitude that the adjuster is out to slight you. Just remain mindful that the adjuster’s goals might not necessarily be in alignment with your own. Be polite and cooperative, and never be afraid to request proof of the claim adjuster’s position.
At the outset, when discussing your claim with your claim adjuster, reiterate the details of your accident, your claim and your policy coverage. While your claim adjuster should already be up to speed on these details, this initial conversation places you and the claim adjuster on the same page and lets your adjuster know that you know what you are talking about. Let your adjuster know the amount you are demanding in the claim, and how you arrived at that value. Be ready to provide evidence that supports how you arrived at the claim amount, and why you think you are entitled to that settlement amount.
More likely than not, the claim adjuster will not agree at this point. The adjuster will likely stall, claim to need more time, or may squabble about how your numbers seem high. Remember that it is part of the claim adjuster’s job to haggle down, so don’t be discouraged at this point. You shouldn’t back down simply because the adjuster seems uncomfortable with the amount you are seeking in your claim.
The claim adjuster will likely make a counteroffer, which will be lower than your claim amount. You do not have to accept this amount, and can supply further documentation in support of why you believe, in good faith, that your settlement amount should be higher. This process may repeat until a settlement agreement is reached.
If you and the claim adjuster cannot agree on the settlement amount, you may choose to speak with a supervisor, or another claim adjuster. If all else fails, or you are concerned that the insurance company is treating you unreasonably or is acting in bad faith, you can consult with a car accident lawyer who has experience handling insurance claim adjusters.
- Acceptance or Rejection of the Claim
If your claim is accepted, then the insurance company will send you a check for the amount that has been approved and a release form to sign, which signifies the end of the insurance claim adjustment process.
If your claim is rejected, your insurance company is required to provide you with an explanation as to why the claim was disapproved. You are permitted to ask questions, or request where precisely in your policy it states that you lack coverage for the claim you have made.