Insurance adjusters play a critical role in the outcome of personal injury and property damage cases. While many insurance adjusters work hard to review all relevant details and arrive at a fair conclusion, others may use unethical tactics.
You can help safeguard against these bad-faith tactics by eliciting a bit of fear in your insurance adjuster. You can achieve this goal with knowledge, a strategic plan, plenty of persistence, and an experienced lawyer.
Below is your step-by-step guide to encouraging an insurance adjuster into delivering a fair offer you are willing to accept.
Step One: Understand the role and goals of an insurance adjuster
The path to eliciting fear in an insurance adjuster begins with knowing exactly how they operate. So, before you map out a plan, take a few minutes to understand the important role they play in settling your claim.
The primary role of an insurance adjuster is to examine personal injury or property damage claims to help determine how much an insurance company should pay the claimant for their loss. Also known as claims adjusters, most insurance adjusters may work for insurance companies. Others may work independently as external contractors who are hired to review claim liability.
Key responsibilities include:
- Receive and process claims
- Acts as the primary point of contact for an injury victim while their claim is being processed
- Review a claimant’s physical injuries or property damage
- Interview witnesses, specialists, and claimants to assess the degree of damage or loss
- Analyze surveillance video, police reports, and witness testimony
- Calculate payments and benefits
- Negotiate payments with claimants
At the end of the day, an insurance adjuster’s primary goal is to minimize the amount of compensation delivered by the insurance company. Their secondary goal is to settle claims as quickly as possible. So, it is not uncommon for insurance adjusters to offer a lowball payment quickly.
While you may be tempted to take the offer, remember you have the right to reject their offer and request a settlement you feel is fair.
Step Two: Know how adjusters may try to minimize compensation
Now that you know how insurance adjusters operate, it’s time to dive a bit deeper and look at some of the tactics they may use to minimize settlement offers.
The techniques and tricks below are used to irritate claimants and increase the likelihood they will accept a reduced settlement:
- Avoid your phone calls: This common tactic is often used with the hope that the claimant will simply “go away” or forget about their claim.
- Delay action: Some insurance adjusters delay action to cause frustration and boost the odds a claimant will accept a lowball offer.
- Request more details: This is a stalling tactic in which the adjuster says they are unable to process your claim without more information.
- Issue a lowball offer: This occurs when an adjuster makes an offer that is far less than what you expect or need to cover expenses.
- Threaten or intimidate you: Some adjusters may try to push you to take a lowball settlement by threatening to take it off the table soon.
- Advise you not to hire a lawyer: By encouraging you to fend for yourself, this strategy can weaken your case and minimize your claim.
Keeping these strategies in mind, you can anticipate what may lie ahead for you as you communicate with your insurance adjuster. And you can now take action to ensure you receive proper compensation for your damages and injuries.
Step Three: Take your time to review a settlement offer
Sometimes a claimant’s silence is one of the most effective ways to induce fear or nervousness. This may seem counterintuitive at first. But remember one of the goals of an insurance adjuster is to settle claims quickly. So, when they issue a settlement offer and you don’t respond quickly, they may begin to worry that you will reject their offer
There is another reason why a lack of responsiveness might be concerning to adjusters. They may worry that you need more extensive treatment that could prove to be costly for the insurance company in the long term. On the other hand, if you accept an offer quickly, liability is addressed and you will be left with no recourse if future treatment needs surface.
Step Four: Reject a lowball offer in writing
When you reject a settlement offer in writing, you send a signal to the insurance company that you intend to fight for a fair settlement. You can induce fear by countering with the amount you will accept.
To show that you mean business, a lawyer might write a letter that:
- States clearly that the settlement offer you received is unacceptable
- Responds to any inaccurate statements in the insurance adjuster’s correspondence to you
- States the settlement amount you find acceptable
- Outlines the general reasons why the amount you proposed is appropriate
- Calculates expenses related to any damages that the lowball settlement offer ignored
- Attaches copies of receipts, invoices, and a letter from your employer documenting your absence from work
To maximize the chances of getting what you deserve, reach out to an experienced personal injury lawyer to draft your letter and negotiate your counteroffer. In addition to unnerving an adjuster, a letter from a lawyer is nearly always more effective than a letter from a non-legal professional. Plus, the insurance adjuster knows they are behind the eight ball if you hired a lawyer with a proven track record of success negotiating favorable settlements from insurance companies.
Step Five: Finish your treatment before accepting a settlement
No two accident victims will have the same injuries or recover the same way. While victims with minor injuries may fully recover in a few days or a few weeks, a person with more serious injuries may take a longer time to heal. In some isolated cases, accident victims may suffer long-term physical and psychological effects that last for years.
In most cases, longer courses of treatment are more costly, resulting in a higher claim. For this reason, insurance adjusters will often issue a swift settlement offer to avoid a substantially higher claim if the settlement is delayed until all treatment expenses are considered.
If an insurance adjuster tries to convince you that additional treatment is not necessary, it’s okay to firmly state that you prefer to follow the medical guidance of your primary care doctor and healthcare recovery team.
You can put an insurance adjuster on edge by proactively letting them know you intend to wait until you are fully healed to settle your claim. Most adjusters will not expect this, and it will show them you have a good working knowledge of the variables to be considered in a settlement offer. You can go ahead and file your claim, but just remember not to rush into a settlement.
Step Six: Report any insurance adjuster who is acting unethically or unprofessionally
Reporting an insurance adjuster for unethical or unprofessional behavior is almost guaranteed to elicit fear. Some adjusters have a history of bullying claimants or using unethical tactics to coax them or intimidate them into accepting a lowball offer.
These tactics are more serious than those referenced in Step Two, as they may involve deception or coercion.
Here are a few examples:
- Trying to force an injured person to sign a settlement release while they are under the influence of pain medicine or other drugs
- Creating falsified witness statements to prompt a claimant to admit fault or accept lower compensation
- Tampering with or altering evidence to minimize an injured person’s claim
- Knowingly discarding photos, written statements, or other evidence that could help increase a claimant’s settlement
If you or a loved one have been on the receiving end of an insurance adjuster’s dishonest or fraudulent behavior, you should notify their employer that you wish to claim bad faith. The best way to do this is to draft a letter that outlines your claim of bad faith. You can also file a claim with your state.
When drafting your letter, be sure to reference the adjuster’s name and specific conduct or behavior that constituted the bad faith. If your claims are substantiated, the insurance company could be liable for delivering compensation above the original amount associated with your injuries.
What should you avoid doing when dealing with insurance adjusters?
Sometimes, knowing what not to do is just as important as taking the right steps with an insurance adjuster. Here are five things you should avoid doing at all costs when communicating with an insurance adjuster.
1) Never admit fault
Insurance adjusters are looking for ways to prove the insurance company should not be held liable for your damages. Even if you think there is a chance you might be at fault, do not discuss these feelings over the phone or in writing. An official investigation may determine fault, and you could jeopardize your chances of securing compensation if you state that you are at fault for an accident.
2) Do not lose your cool
Even if your anger may be justified, it is rarely in your best interests to lose your cool. If you receive a ridiculously low settlement offer and feel angry, do not call your insurance company to yell, scream, or curse. Wait until you are calm until you communicate further with anyone affiliated with your claim, or better yet, leave communication with insurers to your attorney.
3) Never threaten violence
Scaring an insurance adjuster with legitimate tactics is one thing. But you should never threaten to harm an insurance adjuster or any employee of an insurance company. You should also refrain from harassing behavior or verbally abusive comments, as your words could be used against you in the future.
4) Avoid saying “Sorry”
“Sorry” can be the single most damaging word you could utter if you are working with an insurance adjuster. Even if you are not directly referring to an accident, saying you are sorry could lead the insurance adjuster to interpret your apology as an indication that you are responsible for the accident and any related injuries.
5) Do not lose patience
When you receive an offer from your insurance company, you may be tempted to accept the offer for a variety of reasons.
For instance, you might be short on cash or worry you may not receive a better offer. Your concerns might be exacerbated if you have waited a long time for the compensation you deserve. Don’t let your impatience get the best of you and convince you to accept a lowball settlement. You could shortchange yourself by hundreds of thousands of dollars.
What is the single best way to scare an insurance adjuster?
The single most effective way to scare an insurance adjuster is to hire an experienced personal injury lawyer. With an accomplished lawyer fighting for your rights, you can focus on returning to your routine while a skilled legal professional handles all communications with the insurance adjuster.
Here are the benefits of hiring a lawyer to handle your personal injury case:
- Write a convincing demand letter to your insurance company
- Carefully review any settlement offers you receive
- Reject a settlement offer in writing on your behalf
- Counter your lowball settlement offer
- Communicate and negotiate with insurance adjusters on your behalf
- Help you delay collections while you await your final settlement
- Put an end to any intimidation tactics insurance adjusters may use against you
- Expose any unethical conduct exhibited by an insurance adjuster
When you work with a legal team, you can enjoy peace of mind knowing they work tirelessly to help you secure the compensation you deserve.
Since starting his firm in 1999, Stewart J. Guss has had the honor of representing clients from all over the world, helping them recover from even the most catastrophic injuries.
Today, thanks to a strong belief in those values of compassion, respect, and approachability, the firm has grown to employ over 120 legal professionals in numerous offices across 4 states, with nationwide reach.