When you are involved in a car accident and make a claim against the other driver’s insurance policy, a claim adjuster or insurance adjuster will deal with your claim. The adjuster’s goal is to limit the insurance company’s liability and minimize the amount paid in claims.
An adjuster knows the claims process, has a sense of the value of various types of accident claims and negotiates settlements on a daily basis as part of his or her job. That gives the adjuster an advantage in dealing with an accident victim who is unfamiliar with the process. After an accident involving significant personal injuries, you should enlist the help of an experienced personal injury lawyer to negotiate on your behalf. If you try to deal with the insurance adjuster on your own, you are not likely to receive a full settlement. Having an experienced attorney on your side levels the playing field.
What Is an Insurance Adjuster’s Job?
An insurance adjuster’s job is to review accident claims, establish a value for the claim and make payments to victims if needed. The job involves many different tasks including:
- Examination of accident claims
- Review of insurance policies and coverage
- Assessment of damage
- Examination of documents related to the claim such as medical records and expert evaluation
- Preparing reports about the accident and injuries
- Handling any settlement or payment to accident victims
Adjusters will likely be involved in any accident claim. Car accidents, slip and falls, and many other types of accidents will need an adjuster to investigate. There’s a lot of work involved in organizing and investigating a claim. Insurance companies rely on insurance adjusters to understand each case and how much they’ll have to pay according to their policies.
The claim adjuster may be an employee of the insurance company, or the adjuster may be independent. In cases where a company does not have an adjuster available, or someone specialized in a particular type of accident, insurance companies may contract with an independent adjuster to help them.
What Do Adjusters Look for and What Documents Will They Need?
Claim adjusters are employed to help insurance companies understand what happened in an accident and how much the insurance company may have to pay out under its policy. During their investigation, insurance adjusters look for many pieces of information including:
- Evidence of the accident
- Evidence of fault
- Treatment of injuries
- Other insurance policies that may cover the accident
Insurance adjusters will need a number of documents to support their work on a claim. They may need:
- Photos of the accident scene
- Proof of damage or loss for insured items
- Valuations of damaged and lost property
- Witness testimony and police reports about an accident
- Medical records and receipts for treatment
- Estimates of future treatment
- Many other documents
The adjuster will compile the information according to insurance company procedures and the laws that govern them. A good adjuster will gather as much information as is needed to evaluate the claim.
How Might an Insurance Adjuster Dispute the Value of My Claim?
In many cases, the insurance adjuster is trying to find ways to minimize the insurance company’s liability. In other words, an insurance adjuster will seek to pay as little as possible to resolve a claim. If you have filed a claim, it’s important to understand how the adjuster may operate.
An insurance adjuster may look for uncertainty about the cause of an accident. For example, what caused the conditions for a slip and fall, or whether more than one motorist was partly responsible for a car accident. They’ll use any gaps in the documentation of the accident to try shift liability to another party and deny claims under a particular insurance policy. If they reject a claim, the accident victim will have to push back.
Insurance adjusters may try to make a lowball offer. When an accident takes place, the insurance company wants to pay out as little as they can. Adjusters may rely on formulas and data that value damages on the low end of a range. For example, in a car accident, they may value a vehicle at the low end of an average valuation rather than look at the condition and information about your particular vehicle. Unfortunately, this can be an effective technique for settling claims when victims are feeling financial stress and are willing to settle for what they can get quickly.
Adjusters may try to get you to settle before you know the full extent of your losses. This can happen in personal injury cases when health issues may take months to resolve and an accident victim’s ability to return to work remains unknown. By settling early, the victim accepts a lower settlement and loses the ability to recover compensation for any future medical costs or loss of future earnings.
There are many ways that an adjuster may dispute the value of your claim. Make sure that you have all the documentation, bills, and receipts that you need to support your claim. A lawyer can help.
Why Do I Need a Lawyer?
A personal injury lawyer can help an accident victim understand the fair value of the claim and manage the claim process.
Insurance policies are complicated legal documents with many provisions and exclusions to coverage. It can be hard to determine whether an accident is covered under a policy. It can be particularly confusing if an adjuster denies a claim. A lawyer knows how to decipher the policy documents and apply them to your claim. The lawyer will work to make sure that if a claim can be covered, it will be.
Lawyers also understand how insurance adjusters operate and how they build their case. A lawyer will work to ensure that the adjuster has all the documents they need to finalize your settlement and that any uncertainty is addressed.
It can be challenging to put a value on an accident. Complex medical procedures, property replacement, and valuation of pain and suffering are all difficult tasks that require knowledge and experience to assess. Insurance adjusters often try to take advantage of individuals who are in accidents. They do this by lowballing victims and pressuring them to settle. A lawyer brings an informed perspective to valuing your injury claim and will prevent an insurance adjuster from using pressure tactics to force a lowball settlement.
Why Choose Us?
At Chiumento Dwyer Hertel Grant our attorneys represent personal injury and accident victims throughout Flagler and Volusia counties. We understand the challenges of recovering from an accident.
Based in Palm Coast, we’ve served Florida residents in need of legal counsel for over forty years. We’ve built a reputation as effective advocates who will provide the highest quality legal advice and representation. If you’re dealing with an insurance claim or a personal injury and you need help, contact us at (386) 753-3245 today.