After an accident, you may get numerous messages and phone calls from insurance companies trying to talk to you. You have no obligation to speak with another party’s insurance. However, when it comes to your insurer, you may have a duty under your policy to notify them of the crash and provide certain information to help them prepare for a potential claim. Although you may need to communicate with your insurance company, be careful of what information you provide
Your Insurer Is Not Your Advocate
It is vital to understand that when it comes to claims involving injuries, insurance companies do not advocate for or serve you. Rather their goal is to limit the company’s liability and the compensation they payout on a claim. To accomplish this goal, insurers leverage their conversations with you and other parties to find any basis to deny or limit your monetary compensation. While you may get more support for handling property damages claims such as for vehicle damage, if you are claiming injury even your own insurance carrier has an incentive to minimize your case (especially if they think there may be an uninsured or underinsured motorist claim made). Anything you say to your insurance representative via phone, email, or message is information they can use against you.
Do Not Apologize for Anything
It is often people’s nature to become apologetic in stressful situations. Refrain from saying sorry or apologizing to the insurance representative regarding information about who was at fault in the crash. The insurer can use this as your admission of guilt for the accident.
Do Not Tell Them What You Think Occurred
Another common mistake amongst accident victims when speaking to insurers is wanting to hypothesize and go over how they believe the accident happened, when they do not yet have all the information. Although you may feel that your version of the events clearly shows the other parties’ fault, remember that other witnesses or facts may paint a different picture. An experienced insurer may take speculative statements you offer trying to be helpful and use that to flip the blame onto you for the accident or your injuries. Do not respond to the insurer’s questioning, and refuse a recording of your conversation unless you have the advice of legal counsel.
Do Not Say You Are Feeling Fine or Doing Okay
The insurer will ask how you feel or how you are doing in their initial conversation with you after a crash. These are not mere pleasantries or small talk; they gauge the seriousness of your car accident injuries and try to gain insight into the consequences of the accident and your recovery. Do not make any statements about your physical, mental, or emotional state to the insurance company until you are certain what your condition and treatment needs are. Usually this will be long after the subject crash.
Do Not Admit The Accident Was Your Fault
Motor vehicle accidents are often highly emotional and traumatic experiences. There may be severe injuries, destruction of vehicles and property, or fatalities. People may feel guilty about the events and question what they did wrong. While you may think you were at fault, an investigation might reveal that other forces at play caused the accident.
You should be hesitant to admit fault unless and until it is clear there were no other contributing factors. If evidence ultimately shows you are not to blame, you cannot easily undo your previous admissions to an insurance representative. It is the insurer’s responsibility or another party claiming you are at fault to look at the evidence available and determine fault after a crash. Of course, do not be dishonest with your insurer if, indeed, a crash was your fault.
Do Not Divulge Details on Your Injuries or Recovery
The insurance company will ask about your injuries and diagnosis, especially in cases where you went to the emergency room after the accident. If they pressure you to answer, reply that you are still receiving treatment and are currently unable to provide additional information. While you may think that explaining the extent of your injuries helps your case, you may inadvertently cause complications and delays or give information that limits the value of your claim before all the information is available.
Do Not Give Them Any Information Beyond the Basics
It is difficult to navigate a conversation with your insurer without falling into their attempts to gather additional information about your case. Stick to the facts, what you know, and the accident’s basic information.
If you find your conversation veering off into uncertain topics, redirect the conversation however you can. The only information your insurer truly needs is the date of the accident, your name, and your contact information.
Refer The Insurer to Your Attorney, and If You Do Not Have One Yet, Hire One
Once you undergo medical treatment for injuries after a crash, your priority is hiring a lawyer. Insurance companies are persistent and may contact you before you can meet with and hire an attorney. Notify the insurer that you are in the process of obtaining a lawyer to represent you. This statement may lead the insurer to limit questions and give you time to complete your search for the right attorney.
Contact a lawyer near you for a free consultation to discuss your case and your options and rights to compensation.