When you are involved in a car accident in South Carolina, one of the first things you should do after seeking medical attention is report the accident to your insurance company. But, when you call, you need to be very careful about what you say. If you say the wrong things, the insurance companies could use your own words against you—and you could end up without the compensation you deserve.
So, what do you need to avoid saying when you are on the phone? Here are 10 things not to say to your insurance adjuster after a car accident:
1. “I Feel Fine.”
When you call to report your accident, one of the first questions your adjuster is likely to ask is, “Are you okay?” While this might seem like a polite conversation starter, you need to keep in mind that the entire call is being recorded. If you say, “I feel fine,” this will be on record—and if you try to seek coverage for your medical bills and other expenses, later on, the insurance companies may use this to argue that your injuries did not result from the collision.
2. “I Was At Fault.”
Under no circumstances should you say, “I was at fault.” There are two equally important reasons why. First, at this point, you don’t know who was at fault, and you won’t know who was at fault until you hire a law firm to conduct an investigation. Even if you were speeding or distracted, this does not necessarily mean that your speed or distraction was to blame for the accident. Second, once you admit fault, it becomes very difficult to take it back—even if you didn’t know whether or not you were actually to blame. This is one time when the insurance companies will take you at your word.
3. “I Might Have Been At Fault.”
Just as you should not say, “I was at fault,” you also should not say, “I might have been at fault.” Instead, if your adjuster asks you who you think was responsible, you should simply point to the other driver or say that you don’t know. It is always fine to say you don’t know, and you should not let your adjuster pressure you into saying something that may or may not be accurate.
4. “Where Should I Take My Car for Repairs?”
If you ask your adjuster where you should take your car for repairs, your adjuster will direct you to one of the insurance company’s “preferred” repair shops. These shops are not preferred because they do good work, but because they do the minimum that is necessary so that the insurance company has to pay as little as possible. Instead, take your care to the dealership or a repair shop you trust to get an estimate for your insurance company’s approval.
5. “Where Should I Go for Medical Treatment?”
The same goes for medical treatment. To make sure you receive treatment focused on maximizing your recovery, you need to go to a doctor who is independent of your insurance company. If you don’t know where to go, instead of asking your adjuster, ask your Rock Hill car accident lawyer for a referral.
6. “What Does My Policy Say About . . . ?”
When you have an insurance claim, it is important to ensure that you have a clear understanding of what is (and isn’t) covered under your policy. But, if you have questions, you should ask your lawyer instead of your adjuster. While your adjuster shouldn’t misrepresent the terms of your coverage (doing so is a form of insurance bad faith), you, unfortunately, cannot assume that your adjuster will provide a complete and accurate explanation of the coverage to which you are entitled.
7. “Yes, I’ll Sign a Medical Release.”
At some point, your insurance adjuster may ask you to sign a medical release. Or, your adjuster may simply email you a form and tell you to sign it. However, you are not required to sign a medical release—and you should not do so. A medical release gives your insurance company unfettered access to your medical records. Your insurance company does not need this access to process your claim, and granting access unnecessarily will only work against you.
8. “Yes, I’ll Accept a Settlement.”
Regardless of your personal circumstances, you should never accept an insurance settlement unless advised to do so by your Rock Hill car accident lawyer. If your insurance adjuster offers a settlement before you hire a lawyer, you can be almost certain that the offer represents far less than you are rightfully owed.
9. “How Much Am I Entitled to Receive?”
After a car accident, you need to make your own informed decisions about how much you should seek for your accident-related losses. Again, if you ask your adjuster, your adjuster is not going to answer with your best interests in mind.
10. “I’ll Take Whatever I Can Get.”
On the same token, you should not tell your adjuster that you are willing to take whatever you can get. If you are facing financial strain, you have options available, and you do not need to settle for less than you deserve.
What Should You Say to Your Insurance Adjuster?
So, those are 10 things not to say to your insurance adjuster. Now, what should you say when you call to report your car accident? When reporting a car accident to your insurance company, you should only provide the minimum information that is required. Typically, this means providing the other driver’s insurance information and stating where and when the accident occurred. Otherwise, you should let your lawyer do the talking. Your lawyer will be able to deal with your insurance company’s tactics, and he or she will be able to help guide you through the process of making sure you receive the maximum coverage available.