When you’re involved in a car accident, no matter how minor or major, both your own insurance provider and the provider for the driver responsible for the accident are going to want to know about it. Their team is going to have a list of questions regarding the who, what, where, when, and why of the accident so they can determine the amount of coverage compensation to provide you with.
While it’s advisable to cooperate with your own insurance company as thoroughly as possible, it’ll serve you well to proceed with some caution when being interviewed by the liable driver’s insurance adjuster. In general, it’s wise to seek the help of a car accident lawyer before you speak to the other party’s insurance company, but should you decide to speak to them before then, we advise only providing them with information about physical property damage suffered. Refrain from any and all information about any injuries you might have suffered. That way, you can be sure you’re telling them only what they currently need to know—and avoiding anything they don’t that could be used against you later on.
Q: Do I have to agree to an interview about my car accident?
A: Per the terms of your own insurance policy, it’s likely that you are required to participate in some kind of interview about your car accident. If you refuse to participate or they’re unable to get ahold of you to conduct the interview in a timely fashion, they may be within their rights to outright deny coverage for any part of your accident and its damages.
The latter is likely also true when it comes to speaking with the liable driver’s insurance provider. So it’s most often in your best interest to agree to an interview about your accident and prepare for it accordingly. But just because you agree to participate in an interview does not necessarily mean you’re required to answer every single one of the questions they ask you during it.
Q: Is the insurance adjuster allowed to record my call?
A: Not if you don’t want them to. Most interviews between insurance adjusters and customers or victims will happen via a phone call, and it’s likely that the adjuster will ask you if they can record your conversation for their records. If that’s something you’re uncomfortable with, you are entirely within your rights to politely refuse to have the conversation recorded.
Here are a few ways to decline a recorded statement:
- “No, I do not give consent to having this phone call recorded.”
- “At this moment, I opted not to make any statements.”
- “Please provide me your name and phone number so I can call you back when I’ve had a chance to speak with my attorney.”
Q: What kinds of car accident questions will the insurance adjuster ask me?
A: The circumstances of every car accident and its outcomes are unique, but in general, you can expect the insurance adjuster to at least ask you the following questions (or questions that are similar):
- When and where did the accident happen?
- Where were you coming from and going to?
- Who was involved in the accident, including any drivers, passengers, or other parties?
- How did the accident happen?
- Who caused the accident?
- Was an accident report or police report filed?
- Did you suffer any injuries in the accident?
Q: How to answer insurance adjuster questions?
A: There are some strategic tips to remember when you’re thinking about how to answer each of the above questions posed by your adjuster:
- Be precise about where and when the accident happened. There’s no reason to withhold this information.
- They may be asking you about where you were coming from or going in an attempt to determine your state of mind while driving. For example, if you were on your way from a bar or a party, they may assume you were drunk. Be truthful, but don’t provide any unnecessary details.
- Do be precise about everyone who was involved in the accident. This includes yourself, any passengers in your car, and even any witnesses you might have obtained contact information from.
- Letting them know how the accident occurred can be subjective, but you should do your best to recall and detail the events as accurately as possible. Only stick to the facts of the accident and avoid adding any additional unnecessary commentary or opinions.
- When asked who caused the accident, do your best to avoid admitting fault for the accident in any way, especially if you’re certain their insured driver caused the accident. Let their investigation prove otherwise if they’re able to. And if you aren’t sure how to answer this question, there’s no harm in saying, “I don’t know.”
- If a police report was filed after your accident, let your own provider and the other party’s provider know, as well as when it was filed and what jurisdiction it was filed with.
- When they ask you about any injuries suffered, we again advise that you never discuss your injuries with them directly—at least, not at this stage, or not until you’ve spoken with a personal injury lawyer.
Q: Why shouldn’t I tell the insurance company about my injuries?
A: The insurance company may need to know about any injuries you suffered as a result of your car accident eventually. But in these early interview processes, you want to avoid discussing any and all injuries with them. Even if you’re feeling completely fine at the time of the call, don’t even let them know that’s the case. This is because you may not yet know the extent of your injuries, and making any sort of concrete statement about them now could preclude you from coverage for related medical expenses later in the process. If they do ask you about your injuries, let them know that you’re unable to discuss the topic at this time, but your attorney will be in touch on your behalf in the future to discuss details further. Again, we strongly advise that if you’ve suffered injuries during the accident, you seek the help of an experienced car accident attorney.
Q: Should I accept a settlement offer if they make one during the interview?
A: Even if their initial offer may seem like a good deal, it’s best to wait to accept any such offers until you’ve had a chance to discuss it with your car accident lawyer. They will be able to help you determine whether or not this is genuinely the best offer you may get, or if there’s room for negotiation that could lead to greater compensation. If and when the adjuster presents a settlement offer to you, let them know that you would like to discuss the offer with your attorney before accepting or denying it. Even if they let you know they may not be able to guarantee that same amount once the interview is over, it’s still in your best interest to discuss things with your lawyer first.
Q: What questions should I ask my insurance agent in return?
A: It’s always a great idea to come to your interview prepared with a list of your own questions for the insurance adjuster. This way you can advocate for yourself from the beginning of the process. Some good questions to consider asking them may be:
- “Are you recording this phone call?” (though they should let you know if that’s the case without prompting)
- “What kind of coverage is provided under their insured’s policy?”
- “How much monetary coverage does their policy provide in these circumstances?”
- “Will you be in touch with my own insurance provider about this accident?”
- “When can I expect to hear from you again about the next steps in the process, or when can I expect to know what kind of coverage is being offered?”
No matter what, don’t let the insurance company intimidate you during this process—even if you might be feeling intimidated because you’re still rattled after the accident you just experienced. It’s okay to tell them you don’t know the answers to some of their questions at this time, or that you would like to discuss things further with your attorney before you do answer any question in particular.
Again, you want to be polite and cooperative, but you don’t want to be bullied or tricked into saying the wrong thing. Insurance adjusters are trained to look for ways to take advantage of the scenario and the words you say to them. So the best course of action is to always proceed with an abundance of caution and a polite demeanor until you have a chance to speak with your lawyer.