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Boss Your Loss! Take Control of Your Insurance Claim! Five Tips for Dealing with an Adverse Insurance Claims Adjuster
In the world of car carriers and the trucking industry, Joe is a seasoned operator, confidently maneuvering his rig with ease. However, when it comes to navigating the complex world of insurance claims, he finds himself in unfamiliar territory. A recent collision with another semi-truck at a truck stop left his cab severely damaged, through no fault of his own. This accident led Joe to understand that to regain control over the situation, he needed to educate himself and potentially seek professional guidance.
The aftermath of Joe's accident left him in a financially daunting situation, but he quickly realized the importance of regaining control over his circumstances. He filed a claim with the other driver’s insurance company. To assist him in the negotiation and settlement of the insurance claim, he hired an independent adjuster, consulted his accountant, and sought guidance from a trucking claims lawyer. Together, they provided the necessary expertise to help Joe navigate the claims process.
Here are five tips to empower you to be the boss of your claim:
1. Take Command of the Accident Scene
To ensure a favorable outcome, it's essential to get a police report that identifies the other party as responsible for the accident. Safely gather evidence at the scene that proves the other party was liable including pictures up close and from afar, dash cam footage, witness statements, and, if possible, admittance of responsibility in writing from the at-fault driver. Remember, if you can't establish liability, the other party's insurance company won’t compensate you for your repairs and other damages.
2. Make Temporary Repairs, If Possible
In cases where immediate repairs cannot be made but the equipment can be repaired enough to be legally drivable, consider making these temporary repairs to prevent further downtime. If temporary repairs cannot be completed, document the reasons why, as well as the FMCSA laws that would be violated if driven. Always document the timeline of repairs and any reasons final repairs are delayed. This proactive approach demonstrates your commitment to minimizing losses, which can be advantageous when negotiating your claim.
3. Negotiate a Fair Offer for Repairs
You have the right to ensure that your insurance claim is handled fairly and you receive proper compensation. Don't let the adverse adjuster dictate all the terms, especially if they lack expertise in the trucking industry. Keep in mind the adverse adjuster is trained to protect their own company's financial interests, often resulting in low settlement offers. To counter an unfair offer, be proactive and consider hiring an independent adjuster to calculate a more accurate Actual Cash Value (ACV) for your claim. Provide evidence to the adjuster to support a higher value, including photos of customized features, records of recent major repairs, and other specialty documentation. Present these findings to the adverse adjuster with your counteroffer.
4. Document Your Lost Income and Out-of-Pocket Expenses
Maintain detailed records of income lost during downtime. If you pull off of a load board and don’t know the exact losses, consult with an accountant or a trucking attorney for guidance. Create a timeline of all actions taken to mitigate your losses and get back on the road. The opposing party may question the duration of downtime. Thoroughly document all out-of-pocket expenses, ensuring they are supported by records from third parties because handwritten notes may not suffice. Organize your evidence carefully to facilitate the adverse adjuster's evaluation of your claim.
5. Exercise Caution in Dealings with the Adverse Adjuster
Relying solely on the advice of the adverse party's adjuster may not be in your best interest. They are not your adjuster, they are the other party’s insurance company’s adjuster. Unfortunately, some adjusters may attempt to take advantage of your vulnerable situation of needing repairs done quickly. Avoid signing documents you don't fully understand. Do not sign any release or cash any settlement check with release language without resolving all claims, including supplemental repairs. If you plan to involve an attorney in handling the downtime portion of your claim, request their review of any repair settlement documents before signing. This will protect your business and ensure your decisions are legally sound.
Negotiating with an adverse insurance claims adjuster can be a formidable challenge, but by following these five tips, you can regain control of your claim and secure a fair settlement:
1. Take proactive steps to command the accident scene.
2. Make temporary repairs to minimize downtime.
3. Pursue a fair settlement for repairs and present evidence accordingly.
4. Document and demand compensation for downtime income losses and out-of-pocket expenses.
5. Exercise caution and seek professional assistance when necessary, whether from a trucking attorney, accountant, or independent adjuster.
With these steps, you'll be well-prepared to navigate the complex world of insurance claims, armed with your support team and a clear understanding of your rights and priorities. Don't let your insurance claim be the boss of you; take control of your claim instead.
The information in this article is general in nature and does not constitute legal advice.