If another person negligently injures you, their insurance company may eventually offer you a settlement. Before that happens, an insurance adjuster evaluates the case.
The final settlement offer you receive from an insurance company depends on the adjuster's actions and opinions. Since this person works for the insurance company, it is their responsibility to minimize costs for their employer. Sometimes, insurance adjusters misrepresent facts or even tell outright lies to reduce or avoid a payout. These tactics can be hard to spot when you are dealing with all of the aftermath of an injury accident thats why our personal injury lawyers give some examples of these lies below.
What Does an Insurance Adjuster do?
If another person injures you in a car accident or on their property, you will likely file a claim with their insurance company. When you communicate with the insurance company, you will often speak with an insurance claims adjuster.
Once you file a claim, the insurance adjuster begins investigating your case.
- Travel to the accident scene: Adjusters may decide to travel to the property to collect evidence, especially if who caused the accident is unclear.
- Evaluate property damage: The adjuster will inspect your vehicle or other property involved in the incident to determine repair costs.
- Interview eyewitnesses: The insurance adjuster will try to talk to all witnesses. Some witnesses may provide testimony that benefits the insurance company.
- Study the police report: While police reports may seem helpful, an experienced adjuster may find evidence in the report they can use to minimize a payout.
An insurance adjuster will also call you to get a statement. Remember that you can refuse to speak to them. Many adjusters try to get disoriented victims to talk and then use their words against them in negotiations or court.
Before you speak to an adjuster, talk to a lawyer. This way, you can protect yourself against tricky questions and avoid unfortunate mistakes. Adjusters who work for large insurance companies are usually extremely busy. They may handle up to one hundred claims a day. Because of this, their goal is not just to minimize your payout; they also want to settle the claim quickly.
Why Do Insurance Adjusters Lie?
Many people mistakenly believe that the insurance company’s goal is to help them. Unfortunately, helping you cover your losses is not their top objective.
Just like any other business, insurance companies want to earn a profit. If each client receives a maximum payout for their injury claim, the company’s ROI (Return on Investment) will be deficient. Therefore, insurance adjusters do everything possible to minimize payouts or deny claims—including making false statements.
When speaking to an insurance adjuster, you must understand that they represent the at-fault party. For the sake of your claim, this makes them your opponent. Having an experienced personal injury lawyer handle all communications can help protect your claim.
When insurance adjusters lie, they feel they are doing their job. Prepare yourself for these lies to avoid their traps:
Lie #1: You Must Give a Recorded Statement
Once you file an insurance claim, an adjuster begins the investigation. One of their first steps will be to call you and ask about the incident. They are likely to request a recorded statement.
If you refuse, they could try to coerce you into talking anyway by saying they will deny your claim if you do not give a statement. However, the adjuster may try to use the recorded information against you during negotiations or in court.
Truth: The law does not obligate you to give a recorded statement during your first interaction with the insurance company. You can provide a statement whenever you are ready.
Action: Tell the insurance adjuster that you can give a statement later. Contact your lawyer to discuss what you should say to the insurance adjuster.
Lie # 2: You Need to Share Your Social Security Number
Some insurance adjusters may ask you for your social security number (SSN). They may say that this number is necessary for processing your claim. If you refuse, they will continue asking you to share this information.
Once you give them your SSN, the adjusters can use it to run a full background check, including your medical, financial, and criminal history. They will use anything they find against you when determining the settlement amount, even if it is just a bad credit score.
Truth: The law is on your side. You do not have to share your SSN. You can get a fair settlement without sharing this type of personal information.
Action: Tell the insurance adjuster that you are not obligated to provide this information. Tell the adjuster to contact your lawyer about SSN if you have already hired a lawyer. In some states, adjusters may need to check if you have any child support or tax debt before writing a settlement check.
Lie # 3: You Do Not Need a Lawyer
Insurance adjusters may discourage you from hiring a lawyer because they understand that lawyers know how to argue and negotiate for a fair settlement.
An adjuster might say they will give you a settlement offer almost immediately if you do not hire a lawyer. They might also tell you about the unnecessary costs of legal assistance.
Truth: When insurance adjusters advise against hiring a lawyer, they are worried about their ability to minimize the settlement or process it quickly. This type of advice is usually direct proof that you have a strong case.
Action: Tell the adjuster that you need time to think and contact a personal injury lawyer.
Lie #4: We Cannot Go Any Higher
Accepting a quick settlement may seem smart when you struggle with high medical bills. Insurance adjusters will use your situation to pressure you into settling for a low amount. They may say that you will not get a settlement if you do not accept an offer immediately or that they can only offer a certain amount.
Truth: The insurance company can offer as much as the coverage allows. If your damages exceed the policy limit, your lawyer may recommend suing the at-fault party for the remainder.
For example, if you sustain injuries in a car accident, you can seek a settlement from the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Suppose a state’s minimum auto insurance is $15,000 for one person in an accident or $30,000 for more than one person. In that case, the insurance company could be liable for up to $15,000 for a one-party accident. So, if your damages add up to $15,000, and you can prove negligence, settling for a lower amount is not a good idea.
Action: Speak to your lawyer about the possibility of taking your case to court. Most adjusters do everything possible to keep claims out of court, and your lawyer can use this as a bargaining chip in negotiations.
Lie #5: You Must Settle Before the Statute of Limitations Runs Out
The statute of limitations is how long you have to file a lawsuit after an accident. For personal injury cases, this period differs from state to state. However, it generally ranges from one to four years. Speak to a lawyer near you to determine how long you have to file a claim.
If the adjuster mentions the statute of limitations during negotiations, they are trying to use the correct information to force you into drawing wrong conclusions.
Truth: You usually have time to file a lawsuit. Unless negotiations with the adjuster take years, you still have time to go to court.
Action: Hire a lawyer to talk about the statute of limitations and negotiate on your behalf. An experienced personal injury or wrongful death lawyer can help you negotiate a fair settlement or file a lawsuit.
Lie # 6: You Must Accept Liability
In many personal injury cases, liability is not straightforward. Sometimes, two or more parties may be responsible for an accident. Navigating liability issues is incredibly complicated if you do not have experience with personal injury cases.
Many insurance adjusters try to use their legal knowledge to tell half-truths and pressure you into taking the blame for the accident. You should never accept liability for the accident, even if, in exchange, the adjuster promises you a fair payout.
If you admit liability, you could lose your right to recover any damages. Even worse, you could face a lawsuit from another party.
Truth: You do not have to accept liability to get a settlement.
Action: Hire a lawyer to conduct an independent investigation and identify liable parties.
Lie # 7: You Need to Sign a HIPAA Release
Any time an insurance adjuster asks you to sign a release, you must check it twice. One of the common releases adjusters may ask for is a HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) release form.
Once you sign this form, the insurance adjuster gains access to your full medical records—not just those related to the incident. When the adjuster digs into your records, they may find something to use against you. For example, the adjuster could discover that you have a pre-existing condition and argue that it caused you to be inattentive behind the wheel.
Truth: The insurance adjuster has the right to ask for medical records that you use as evidence to support your claim. However, they have no right to gain access to your entire medical history unless you give authorization.
Action: Contact a lawyer if the insurance adjuster asks you to sign any release form, including a HIPAA release. They can respond to the insurance company and protect your records.
Lie # 8: We Are Too Busy to Handle Your Case Right Now
While insurance adjusters usually try to settle claims quickly, they may still use stalling tactics. For example, they may ignore your calls or say they are too busy to handle your case.
This type of behavior is typical for adjusters who are stalling. They may hope that the statute of limitations will run out, keeping you from taking legal action against the company. Or, they may want to frustrate you to a point where you will agree to settle for an unfair amount.
Either way, the stalling tactic works for the insurance company.
Truth: The insurance adjuster always has the time to handle your claim. While minor delays are possible, ignoring your calls for weeks is usually a tricky stalling technique.
Action: Do not try to get the adjuster to respond on your own. If they seem to be stalling, talk to a lawyer. A legal professional knows how to approach adjusters and speed up the negotiation process.
The Takeaway: Get Ready for a Fight
Can insurance adjusters lie? Absolutely. Lying is a common technique that insurance adjusters use to avoid settling for a high amount. Even if your case seems straightforward, it is their job to make sure you get as little money as possible. Pay close attention to the adjuster’s actions and take each statement with a grain of salt.
Knowing your legal rights is the key to avoiding insurance adjusters’ traps. CONTACT a personal injury lawyer to avoid these lies altogether; let an experienced lawyer deal with the insurance company on your behalf.