The usual answer to this question is no, you shouldn’t – at least if you are filing a third-party claim. Most insurance companies are profit-seeking entities, and there are only two ways to maximize profits: by maximizing revenues or by cutting expenditures. Since insurance claims represent expenditures, every dime paid out in claims is one dime less in profit or one dime more in losses.
Make no mistake about it: The insurance company is your adversary, not your neighbor. The insurance company adjuster is a professional negotiator whose sole goal is to minimize the value of your claim – down to zero, if possible. Because he negotiates claims every day, he has every advantage over the average claimant, especially those who are in pain or stressed out. That is where Berkowitz Hanna comes in if you want us to. Let us handle the insurance adjuster.
In a third-party claim, it is someone else who is at fault and you must file a claim against his insurance company. This might happen, for example, if you are injured when another driver plows into your car. You are not bound by the terms of the insurance policy contract entered into between the insurance company and the at-fault party, since you did not sign it. That is why you are under no obligation to give a recorded statement to the other driver’s insurance company.
A first-party claim is different from a third-party claim because you are claiming damages from your own insurance company. This might happen if, for example, the accident was your fault or if the at-fault driver was uninsured or underinsured (Connecticut law requires you to carry at least $25,000 per person/ $50,000 per accident in uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage).
There will probably be a Cooperation Clause in your policy requiring you to give the insurance company the information they need to investigate your claim. This information could include:
Your claim could be denied if you refuse to provide this information. This article, however, deals primarily with how to handle a request for a recorded statement in a third-party claim.
If you are hurt in an accident with an insured person and the accident may have been their fault, you can expect that person’s insurance company to contact you almost as soon as they find out about the accident – which maybe before you even file a claim. The following are some tips on how to handle this call:
An insurance adjuster will carry a large bag of tricks into any conversation with you. Below is but a small sampling of what to prepare for:
The irony in all this is that if you were questioned this way in court, your lawyer would object and the objection would almost certainly be sustained.
At some point before settlement or verdict, you are likely to need to provide your version of events. Instead of giving a recorded statement to the insurance company, however, it would probably be better to compose a written affidavit (under oath) with the help of your attorney and submit that instead of a recorded statement.
A well-written statement will “stick to the facts,” and it might look something like this:
You should also include details of any medical treatment you have undergone to date, including first aid received at the scene of the accident, treatment in the hospital, and follow-up care after you left the hospital. This document must be drafted very carefully because every sentence (and in some cases every word) will have consequences.
In addition to refusing to give a recorded statement, don’t give the insurance company unfettered access to your past medical records unless you are claiming under your own policy and your policy language requires you to do this. Be careful: You could give authorization accidentally. Never sign anything they give you without running it by your lawyer first.
Insurance companies just love to find pre-existing injuries on your record or information that could buttress a claim of a pre-existing injury. Suppose, for example, that you have had back problems in the past, and you are now claiming to have hurt your back in the accident.
If the insurance company finds out about your previous back problems, they will jump on it.
They will probably try to attribute all of your current back pain to pre-existing back problems and claim that the accident neither caused your back pain nor made it worse. If this was true, the element of causation would be missing from your claim and your claim would fail. If they can get away with this, they will be completely relieved of the responsibility to pay anything to compensate you for your back problems.
At Berkowitz Hanna, we win the vast majority of our cases. Because of this, we can afford to work on a contingency basis. You will owe us nothing, ever, unless we win your claim and the claim is actually paid. Once this happens, we will be entitled to a pre-agreed percentage of the total. That means you will never receive a bill for us, and you will never need to pay us anything until and unless we win your case.
The longer you wait to pursue your claim, the weaker it will become. Act now to schedule an initial case evaluation with us. During the evaluation, we will listen to your story, answer your questions, discuss the relevant issues, and decide whether your claim is viable. If it is, then we will start moving right away. Call Berkowitz Hanna directly, or simply fill out our online contact form to get the ball rolling.