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Insurance Adjuster Tricks

The Law Firm of Reed & Mansfield, Attorneys  Personal Injury & Property Damage, Las Vegas, NV

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Million Dollar Advocates Forum

The biggest mistake people make when dealing with insurance adjusters is to assume that an apparently friendly concern on the adjuster's part means their insurance company is going to admit liabilty and make a fair payment. An adjuster can express tons of sympathy for your injuries without having committed his or her company to paying your claim fairly. Insurance adjusters get paid primarily to collect as much information on a claim as possible. As the saying goes, "You get more flies with honey than with vinegar." 

As human beings we often hear what we want to hear. The insurance company adjuster expresses sympathy and says how sorry he is about the injury and the injured person hears an admission of liability and an admission that all the damages claimed were due to the insured incident.

How insurance adjusters work and think can best be described by an adjuster I dealt with years ago on many cases. Let's call him Tom. Tom was a big friendly man who had good people skills. He never took the cases personally and he had enough experience and self-confidence to tell his company when they had to write a big check. But he got paid to deny claims or minimize claims whenever he could. One day he told me about a case he was particularly proud of.

A man bought a large life insurance policy and died a year and a half later. His widow, the named beneficiary on the policy, naturally made a claim for the insurance money. She lived in a different town so the adjustor took a plane to meet with her at her apartment. When he arrived, he said how sorry he was to hear about her husband's death, chatted pleasantly for several minutes and then said, "This is kind of embarrassing, but the flight was rough and I've got an upset stomach. Can I use your bathroom?" The widow sympathetically showed him to the only bathroom in the apartment and wasn't surprised that he took a good several minutes.

Once inside the bathroom, Tom made notes on all the medications in the medicine cabinet that were in her husband's name. Based on this information and a follow up request for medical records, the insurance company denied the life insurance claim on the grounds that her husband had failed to disclose all of his medical problems when he bought the insurance policy. As far as Tom was concerned his trick to see the dead man's medications was a job well done.

Another problem with insurance adjusters is that they want information from you but will refuse to give you information.

A claims person may say, "If you won't give us a statement, how can we assess your claim?" Of course, if you or your lawyer said to the claims person before suit was filed, "We will give you our statement if you let us take the statement of your driver or employee," the claims person would say, "You know I can't do that."

One of the things wrong with having the victim give a recorded statement right at the beginning of a case is that if the case is not quickly settled, suit will be filed and the victim will give another statement in the form of a deposition, and later at trial. Now the victim has given 3 statements at different points in time. The defense at trial will seize on any small inconsistency, however, trivial, to try and make it look like the victim is a liar. That is why the casino or insurance company will not trade a pre-litigation statement from their driver or employee for your statement. (After suit has been filed, either side can take the deposition (sworn testimony in front of a court reporter) of almost all witnesses.