How to Deal with Insurance Adjusters

If you have been in a car crash, keep in mind that an insurance adjuster is not your friend.  No matter how friendly they may seem, the job of insurance adjusters is to save the insurance company money. Their goal is to get you to settle your accident claim quickly and for the lowest amount possible, and then to move on to another case.


We see cases all the time where people have agreed to half the amount that was fair to obtain from an insurance company. Insurance companies make money by collecting premiums, not by paying claims or caring about your medical needs. Adjusters will start by offering the smallest amount they think you might accept. They know that people often are vulnerable after an accident and are fearful about the possibility of going to court, so they may accept a low offer.


Insurance companies have resources that include expert legal advisors, and it is difficult to fight this on your own.  To make sure you get the settlement you are entitled to, it makes sense that you need to be aware of the techniques adjusters use; and before speaking to an insurance company representative, consult an attorney.


Adjuster Strategies


The following are some strategies companies use to pay you less:


·      Using experienced adjusters. The more money your claim is worth, the more experienced the adjuster will be who is assigned to you.  Less experienced adjusters are assigned to lower-valued cases.

·      Taking advantage of your condition. Adjusters will try to get you to settle while you are weak, not thinking clearly, and even while you are still in the hospital. Refuse to talk to them until you are feeling better and are not under the influence of pain medication.

· Trying to get you to make damaging statements. Adjusters know how to get you to admit things that may hurt your case.  Do not allow them to record conversations as anything you say may be used against you. 

·      Using your medical history against you. Adjusters examine your medical records to try to find previous injuries they can claim were the reason for your current problems, not the accident.

· Telling you not to use an attorney.  Adjusters try to keep you from hiring a lawyer by claiming the fees would cost you more in the long run. In reality, having an attorney handle your case will let the insurance company know you are serious and have a legitimate claim with a high value. An attorney can keep you from making mistakes and get you a larger settlement. 


How to Be Prepared


Before meeting with an insurance adjuster, and even before meeting with your attorney, prepare by collecting relevant evidence and information. Evidence should include the following:


·      Medical and rehabilitation bills

·      Records, repair bills, and appraisals that show your damages and expenses

·      Records of lost wages and estimates of wages you expect to lose in the future

·      Police accident report

·      Estimate of future medical and rehabilitation needs.


Adding up these damages will give you and your attorney an idea of what your case is worth before talking to the adjuster.


In addition, consider the following tips:


·      Do not feel obligated to say anything to the adjuster that you do not feel comfortable saying.

·     Do not talk to insurance adjusters. If the insurance adjuster is from your own company and it is a first-party matter involving medical bills, hospital bills or work loss, then speaking with the adjuster may be less of a problem.  However, if you are talking to an adjuster about the third-party action of the tortfeasor or underinsurance, we recommend not doing that but rather seeking counsel.

·      Do not volunteer information that is not relevant or required.

·      Be thorough in your documentation of expenses.

·      Do not under-value your costs.

·      Do not accept a settlement that is inadequate or be pressured to settle more quickly.

·    Get an experienced and reliable personal injury lawyer to prove that you deserve compensation and to deal with adjusters and attorneys working for the insurance company.  An attorney can:


1.    Investigate the accident and determine who was at fault

2.    Deal with the insurance adjuster on your behalf

3.    Recognize when a settlement offer is too low

4.    Recommend specialists for your medical needs and get expert witnesses to testify if necessary

5.    Develop realistic compensation estimates for your non-economic damages, such loss of life’s pleasures


Automobile insurance in Pennsylvania is complex because there are issues that do not exist in any other state in the union. In Pennsylvania, there is a hybrid tort system. We essentially have no-fault for first-party medical bills, hospital bills and wage loss. This covers an amount based upon what you have purchased. There is then tort coverage, which applies with respect to the person at fault. You may have some comparative negligence of your own. Pennsylvania also has an unusual and complex system concerning underinsurance. Many people unnecessarily sign waivers and sign-downs which gives them much less insurance that they should. This documentation needs to be closely examined to see if it applies to your situation.  Although you may have signed the documentation, it may still not apply in some limited circumstances.