Part III: How Do I Deal With Insurance Companies?
By Chris Dixon
Should I Call My Insurance Company?
As mentioned above, drivers have a duty to notify their insurance company of any accidents they have been involved in. Where an accident victim is physically unable to place the call to the insurance company, it is advisable that he or she request that a family member notify the insurance company as soon as practically possible.
Should I Accept the Money the Insurance Company is Offering Me?
Be very careful in entertaining any offers made by the insurance company. Remember that insurance companies make a profit by accumulating and investing the money paid to them by their insureds; they make no money on paying out claims to injured victims. The biggest risk in accepting an early offer from your insurance company is that it may not fully compensate you.
In the days, weeks, and months following your accident, you likely will not know the full extent of your injuries. With knowledge of this, insurance companies try to make a quick early offer to car accident victims. The offer may seem appealing in light of compounding medical and property damage bills and the idea of closing shop on paperwork and legal responsibilities following an accident may be enticing too. However, once you accept the offer of the insurance company, they will not pay you any further money. This will be true even if you later discover that your injury is worse than you thought. For example, if you settle with the insurance company, but thereafter your chiropractor recommends an MRI that exposes a soft tissue issue requiring extensive treatment and a potential surgery, you will not be entitled to any further compensation for those bills or for any of the ramifications of those treatments.
Should I Talk to the Other Driver’s Insurance Adjuster?
You are not required to talk to the other driver’s insurance adjuster. In fact, it may be in your best interest to avoid communicating with them all together. Remember, the insurance company for the other driver is not on your side. They have two goals: (1) they want to protect the interests of the driver who caused your injuries, and (2) they want to pay you as little money as possible. With that in mind, it should be relatively easy for you to ignore their constant calls. If you have already hired an attorney when the other driver’s insurance adjuster starts calling, you should direct your attorney to contact them so that you will no longer receive the calls. Your attorney can talk to the other driver’s insurance company on your behalf.
Do I Have to Give a Recorded Statement to the Insurance Adjuster?
No! This is a question Dixon Injury Firm receives all the time. There is a lot of general confusion on whether or not the recorded statement is required and this is because insurance companies often behave deceptively in making these requests. By their language, victims often feel obligated to provide a statement. However, accident victims are under no such obligation.
There are, however, some circumstances where providing a recorded statement to the insurance company can be beneficial. But these circumstances are extremely fact specific and are best left to a discussion with an experienced attorney. If you were injured in a crash, or if you were partially or totally at fault for the accident, you should contact an attorney before deciding whether or not to give a statement to an insurance company.
What if the Other Driver Tires to Blame Me for the Crash?
Unfortunately, it is all too common that the at-fault driver will try to blame the other driver for causing the car accident. Even if the other driver took responsibility at the scene of the accident, that admission may not be enough to absolve you of blame. This is because once the insurance company gets involved, the other driver may have a change of heart and decide to switch his or her stance on what happened at the scene. As such, it is extremely important to ensure, where possible, that a crash report is is filed with the appropriate Missouri or Illinois police department. The officer taking the crash report may take statements from both drivers as well as other witnesses. All of this information can be used later to refute any changes of heart the at-fault driver may have.