AFTER AN ACCIDENT, you may get numerous messages and phone calls from insurance companies trying to talk to you. Always remember: You have no obligation to speak with another party’s insurance carrier.
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
When it comes to claims involving injuries, insurance companies do not advocate for — or serve — their policy holders … in this case, you. Their goal is to limit the company’s liability and compensation they pay on a claim.
To accomplish that goal, insurers leverage their conversations with you, and other parties, to find any basis to deny or limit your monetary compensation. 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 many accident victims make (when speaking to insurers) is wanting to hypothesize and go over how they believe the accident happened. Although you may feel that your version of the events clearly shows the other parties’ fault, remember 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 OK”
The insurer will ask how you feel or how you are doing in an initial conversation with you, post-crash. These are not mere pleasantries or small talk, but gauge the seriousness of your car accident injuries. (And try gaining 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 crash.
NEVER 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’s difficult to navigate a conversation with your insurer without falling into their attempt 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 to the facts. 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; If You Don’t Have One, 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 Turner Law if you have been in a motor vehicle accident where you or other parties have suffered injuries. Do not travel this road alone. It could be very costly. Call Turner & Turner today at (248) 355-1727 for your free consultation.