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Dollars & Sense

Insurance Adjusters: How They Work And How They Think

By Dan Baldyga
Posted Jul 28th 2002 11:00AM

Here comes the insurance adjuster. Is he overly friendly? If so, watch out! It's OK to be hospitable. Be good-tempered and cordial - - but beware! Never forget he's paid to save his company as much money as he can. That's the name of his game.

Don't sign anything

Don't overestimate the good will of the adjuster. They're trained to investigate accident cases in such a way, if at all possible, to make their insured look good. Many unsuspecting individuals fall prey to the adjuster who seeks to protect his company's pocketbook at the expense of a legitimate claimant.

If a company calls you and suggests they take your statement over the telephone, tell them you would prefer to meet with an adjuster. Don't agree to dictate a verbal statement into a tape recorder over the phone, and certainly not when you're in the presence of an adjuster.

Don't sign a statement when you meet with him. Whatever the circumstance may be, advise whomever you're dealing with that you'll be more than willing to provide a signed statement, after your claim has been settled.

How to proceed with the adjuster

Be pleasant, but firm. No matter how much in the wrong the person is that hit you, no matter how they acted at the scene of the accident, and no matter what they may have verbalized to or at you, don't take it out on the adjuster. It's not the adjuster's fault if his insured is an idiot.

You must never underestimate the importance of the adjusters impressions and conclusions, all of which go into your file. What he feels and reports about you have a great influence on the final disposition of your claim. If he likes you that's money in the bank.

On the other hand, if he gets upset with you he has the ability to twist the facts to make you look bad. Once that's been done, it will be set in cement, go into your file and, without you're ever being aware of it, haunt you to the last dollar of your settlement.

The adjuster's claim load

The job performance of insurance adjusters is judged not only on how little of the company's money they spend in settlement but also on how quickly they settle the claims assigned to them. They're constantly under pressure to settle your claim; to get rid of it and move on. The adjuster will never tell you, but the weight of their caseload comes down on your side of the scale. It's an advantage people are never aware of.

The adjuster's claims authority

The Adjuster's authority to settle claims on their own is restricted by how much experience they have. For a less experienced adjuster, perhaps $5,000 to $10,000, but for a more experienced adjuster, their settlement authority may go as high as $20,000.

When bigger bucks are involved they usually have to be given permission to settle the case from their immediate supervisor.

The bottom line

Don't let a sweet talking insurance adjuster manipulate you into feeling good about your relationship with him and the eventual outcome of your claim. In the vast majority of instances that's not the way you should play the game because, if provided with the opportunity, they'll almost always take advantage of you. That's a fact of life.

Know and understand that they're only doing their job. Their assignment is to save money for the company who signs their paychecks - - no matter what it takes.

If you have a legitimate claim stay cool and understand what you're up against. Don't be impossible to deal with, but remain steady. Remember that the adjuster wants to look good to his company. But, he doesn't want your claim to end up in court, plus he wants to reduce his caseload. Be patient. At the end of the day, after the dust has settled, he'll be forced to treat your loss fairly.

The only purpose of this claim tip "Insurance Adjusters: How They Work And How They Think" is to help those in the trucking business to understand the motor vehicle accident claim process. Neither Dan Baldyga nor ExpeditersOnline make no guarantee of any kind whosoever; NOR to substitute for a lawyer, an insurance adjuster, or claims consultant, or the like. Where such professional help is desired it is the INDIVIDUALS RESPONSIBILITY to obtain said services.

To learn more about how adjusters work and think (plus place a value on the "pain and suffering" you endured because of your personal injury) read Dan Baldyga's latest book Auto Accident Personal Injury Insurance Claim (How To Evaluate And Settle Your Loss) found at or contact your favorite bookstore.

Copyright (c) 2002 by Daniel G. Baldyga. All Rights Reserved

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