You have been the victim of a car accident. You have a damaged car and possibly injuries to yourself as well. After the responsible party has alerted their insurance company of the incident you will soon get a call to clarify the details of the crash from your point of view. The next call you receive is from the insurance adjuster assigned to your case. It can be intimidating talking to someone from the insurance company. To help you better in your negotiations with the adjuster it is important to understand the function of the insurance claims adjuster.
The U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov) describes in its Occupational Outlook Handbook the function of an insurance adjuster as negotiating settlements and authorizing payments. Part of their job is to investigate insurance claims especially when there is a question of liability or where fraud is suspected. The claims adjuster is called to action after the insurance company they work for has sustained a loss.
A loss to an insurance company is when a policyholder submits a claim or requests compensation for their loss in the form of a payment. The adjuster's job is to basically negotiate to a payout for the least amount of money possible. They have to authorize the payment to the claimant without violating any Federal or State laws. The more money the adjuster saves their company the more likely it is he or she will get a bonus.
An adjuster wants the facts of the claimant's case. The facts should allow them to best determine whether the policyholder's insurance policy covers the loss and if it does how much the payment should be for the loss. Since the adjuster deals with finding out the facts of the incident it is important for you to have all of your factual information documented so that you can show it to the adjuster. Having documents showing the cost of fixing the damage to your car, the doctor's bills and any other expenses caused by the accident are thus a necessity.
Claims adjusters work is scheduled around processing the various claims that they have been assigned to handle. The adjuster investigates the claims by first interviewing the claimant and any witnesses. This is when they will call you and the other person involved in the accident. They want to make sure the stories of what happened match. From my personal experience the adjuster always requests to tape these phone calls. So remember to think things out clearly instead of speaking quickly and maybe incorrectly while being taped.
Next if any witnesses to the accident gave their information, to be listed on the police report, they are called so the adjuster can again get verification of how exactly the accident occurred. The adjuster will next contact the officer listed on the police report if anything on the report needs to be clarified. On down the list the claims adjuster will go. They will see if an ambulance was called to the scene. Then the adjuster will call the hospital or physician the victim went to for treatment to find out more information. The vehicle will be inspected so that the adjuster can determine if it should be totaled out or if it can be repaired.
Besides contacting the claimant's physician or mechanic the adjuster may also consult with other professionals. Adjusters are normally familiar with certain car repair companies and physicians. The adjuster will then speak to their contact asking questions such as how much a car should be worth or would cost to repair. With the physician they will ask if the victim's injuries are what should be expected from that specific type of car crash.
Everything that an adjuster finds out is usually written down in some sort of report. The information he or she has gathered will include photographs, written statements, recorded statements and documents the claimant has sent them. The adjuster's next step is to use all of this information to evaluate the claim.
Evaluating the claim involves deciding if the claim is legitimate and if they have all the information needed to negotiate and settle the claim with the claimant. If you only have damage to your vehicle from the accident if should be easier and quicker to settle your claim with an adjuster. You will most likely get a lower level adjuster. They will try to speedily inspect the damage and try to get the check cut right away. If your claim involves bodily injury you will get bumped up to a senior level adjuster. This adjuster will need to do more fact finding so it will take a longer period of time for the claim to be settled.
The negotiating of the settlement is done by a basic back and forth of numbers between the adjuster and the claimant. The adjuster will probably try to get away with a number that is a little low out of the gate. The claimant needs to prove their number to the adjuster and if it is within the perimeters that the adjuster is allowed to settle for that should complete the negotiations.
The role of the adjuster is to represent the insurance company involved in the claim by finding out the facts and then using them to negotiate a settlement. If you have been in an accident and have filed a claim you will deal with a claims adjuster. It can be intimidating if you do not understand their function but with the understanding of the nature of the adjuster's work you should feel confident and able to negotiate your claim.