Brian White | February 15, 2021 | Car Accidents
When you have been involved in a car accident, you will probably spend plenty of time dealing with insurance companies. There’s a good chance an insurance adjuster will call you to ask for a recorded statement regarding the accident.
Although this may sound like a reasonable request, you should be very careful about agreeing to provide such a statement. People have varied opinions about whether claimants should give recorded accounts following an accident.
Providing the insurance adjuster with a statement will probably expedite the company’s investigation and speed up the settlement process. However, claimants are not legally required to offer a statement. Further, insurance companies may use your recorded statement in an effort to minimize or deny your claim.
Reasons Adjusters Request Recorded Statements
There are a number of reasons insurance adjusters request recorded statements from parties who file claims.
A recorded statement will give the insurance adjuster a clearer understanding of the circumstances surrounding the accident. Without a statement from you, they will only hear accounts of the event from other sources. These may include:
- The other driver, who may be potentially to blame for the crash
- Bystanders and witnesses to the accident
- Police documentation and incident reports
While these sources can be helpful, you are the only person who can give a full account of the collision from your perspective.
However, objectivity is not the ultimate goal of the insurance company. Rather, they hope to minimize the costs to their business by denying and diminishing as many claims as possible.
Adjusters May Try To Trick You
The personal demeanor of an insurance adjuster can vary widely from one to the next. Some are incredibly warm and polite on the phone. Others may be cold and dismissive. Regardless of how they sound, insurance adjusters do not have your best interests in mind.
The adjuster may attempt to solicit statements that will hurt your claim. This can make it especially dangerous to speak with an adjuster when you haven’t properly prepared.
If you do choose to give a statement to the insurance provider, be very careful. Only speak on the phone with a claims adjuster when you are awake, alert, and prepared. Never speak with an adjuster when you are:
- Drowsy or sleepy
- Experiencing the effects of any medication
- Upset, frustrated, or angry
- In pain
Adjusters may try to rush you into giving a statement the first time you speak on the phone. Do not let them pressure you into speaking before you are ready. Even if you choose to provide a statement, you have the right to secure legal counsel before you speak with the insurance company.
If you have a legal professional representing your interests, you will not have to deal with the insurance adjuster directly. Even if you do speak with the adjuster on the phone, your attorney will be present to ensure the adjuster can’t manipulate you into making statements that would hurt your claim.
Legal Professionals Advise Against Providing Statements
Most lawyers tell their clients not to submit recorded statements to insurance adjusters. Adjusters are trained to elicit statements from claimants that will decrease the amount the insurance company has to pay.
For instance, the adjuster may open the conversation by saying, “Hello. It’s nice to speak with you. How are you today?” In a normal conversation, this would only be a social nicety. You might be tempted to respond, “Thank you. I’m fine.” In the context of an insurance claim, such a comment is known as an “admission against interest.”
The adjuster will claim the insurance company owes you less money than you are requesting because you have admitted to being “fine.” This may sound sneaky…that’s because it is!
These devious tactics are exactly the reason attorneys advise against offering statements to insurance providers. You should only speak with an adjuster while a legal professional is present on the call to represent your best interests.
Are You Required To Cooperate or Provide a Statement?
There is no single answer to this question. If you are seeking compensation from another driver’s insurance company, you are not legally required to provide a recorded statement.
However, some adjusters will falsely state they are unable to process your claim if you do not offer a recorded account of your version of events. You should know this is untrue. Speak with an attorney if you are facing resistance from an uncooperative insurance provider.
Filing a claim through your own insurance company is known as a “first-party claim.” Most insurance policy contracts include a “cooperation clause,” which requires the insured party to submit any information necessary for the company to investigate the claim.
For a first-party claim, you may be contractually required to provide a recorded statement. In no-fault insurance states, it is mandatory to seek compensation from your insurance provider first. This is true no matter who caused the accident.
Texas is an “at-fault” state, meaning you can file a third-party claim if you are not responsible for the accident.
Preparing a Statement
If you choose to provide a statement, preparation is crucial. Consider creating an outline that will structure your statement and keep you on track.
Remember that every word you say during your statement will be recorded and associated with your claim. Because of this, it’s important to know exactly what you will and won’t say beforehand.
Write a list of factual statements regarding the accident and stick to them during your report. Be sure to emphasize any injuries, damages, or pain you experienced.
Additionally, include statements that preemptively counter any possible attempts to blame you. For instance, note that you were not distracted at any point leading up to the accident.
It is important to stick closely to the information and descriptions you have prepared. Never offer additional information, off-the-cuff comments, or opinions. Insurance companies sometimes act in bad faith, so be careful.
As we mentioned above, most legal professionals strongly advise their clients not to provide recorded statements after an accident. When you’ve been in a car accident, contact a qualified attorney to ensure you receive all the compensation you are due.