Questions to Ask an Insurance Adjuster After a Car Accident
Our usual advice to Kentucky residents who have been in a car accident is to be careful about what you say to any insurance company representative who contacts you after a crash. It’s easy to harm your claim by saying something that allows the insurance company to assign you with the blame for the accident.
However, there is information that you need from your insurance company. So, you need to know what to ask your insurance company after a car accident.
3 Questions to Ask After a Car Accident
- Does My Auto Insurance Cover This Accident? It’s the first thing you want to know, right? The claims adjuster should have a record of your coverage ready and be able to give you an answer. Auto insurance policies specify what kind of vehicle damage and personal injuries they cover and the amount of coverage available to pay claims. In Kentucky, car owners are required to maintain auto liability insurance on cars with active registrations. Liability insurance covers damage to other vehicles and injuries to other people in car accidents caused by the covered driver. Under Kentucky auto insurance requirements, the minimum amount of coverage your automotive liability insurance provides is:
- $25,000 bodily injury for each person injured in the accident, including medical and/or funeral expenses, lost wages, pain, and suffering.
- $50,000 bodily injury for all persons — the maximum paid in a single accident
- $25,000 for property damage to the other driver’s vehicle or other personal property —the cost to repair or replace.
You may have bought liability coverage that provides more than the minimum coverage, but most people do not have higher limits.
You may have bought other auto insurance coverage, as well, such as collision coverage, which is typically required by the lender if you have a car loan. Collision coverage pays for damage to your covered vehicle caused by any kind of collision, regardless of who is at fault.
Other types of auto insurance include:
- Comprehensive Coverage, which pays for damage to the covered vehicle due to vandalism, weather or other causes, and for theft. A car loan provider may require comprehensive coverage.
- Uninsured / Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UM/UIM). UM coverage provides payments for personal injury and property damage suffered in an accident caused by an uninsured motorist or an unidentified hit-and-run driver. UIM coverage provides additional payments for personal injury and property damage beyond what an at-fault driver’s auto liability insurance provides.
- Medical Payments Coverage, which provides money for medical and/or funeral and burial expenses required due to car accident injuries.
If you can locate your auto insurance policy, it lists your coverage and the maximum amount of payment provided on what is referred to as the declaration sheet.
- What Will This Accident Do to My Car Insurance Rates?
Auto insurance rates are partially based on your driving record. If you cause a car accident, it is likely that your insurance premium will increase. If you were not at fault, your rates should not go up. In addition to your driving record, car insurance premiums are based on such factors as the type of car you drive, what you use your car for (you are charged less if you drive less) and whether you have one or more cars. Each insurance company has an established “surcharge schedule” — the predetermined premium increase charged to a policyholder who has caused a car accident. You can ask what the surcharge will be if you are found to be responsible for the accident. But be sure to say “if” you are found responsible. Never tell an insurance adjuster you have caused an accident. One independent consumer insurance website suggests that auto insurance in Kentucky could cost about 30 percent more after causing one accident that leads to bodily injury. This is at the high end of a 20 to 30 percent increase it says most states charge.
- How Do I Get a Copy of My Insurance Claim File?
You should tell the insurance adjuster you want a copy of your complete claim file. As insurance companies move toward “paperless” offices like much of the corporate world, many notes and forms are discarded once a claim is settled. But you should obtain a copy of your claim in case your insurance premiums are raised later when they should not be, or in case an insurer declines to provide a fair settlement. You have a right to this information, which could easily reflect a mistake or other incorrect information that hurts you financially.
What Not To Say to an Auto Insurance Claims Adjuster
While you are required to notify your insurance company of an accident, you are not required to speak to insurance adjusters representing other drivers. If you speak to an insurance claims adjuster about your car accident, he or she will take notes or even record the call. Anything you tell an insurance adjuster representing another driver may be used against you. Adjusters look good to the bosses when they avoid paying claims.
The more you say, the more likely it is that you will say something that undermines your claim. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Never admit fault. We said it above, but it bears repeating. Just state the facts when describing the accident. Don’t accept blame or blame anyone else.
- Don’t say you are OK. If asked about injuries, state the diagnosis you have received from a doctor (your injuries) or that you intend to see a doctor. Never downplay injuries.
- Don’t agree to be recorded. If an insurance adjuster asks permission to record your conversation, decline to give permission. They may do it without telling you, so be careful what you say.
- Don’t agree to release your medical records. Insurers sometimes want to review your medical files to find pre-existing conditions so they can use the condition as an excuse to deny a claim.
- Don’t agree to a settlement. If a claims adjuster or any insurance company representative proposes a settlement amount over the phone, via email or in a letter, do not suggest that it is acceptable unless you know every dime this car accident has and will cost you, and the settlement offer matches that figure. It is best to have a personal injury attorney review the offer and discuss whether it is a reasonable amount given the specifics of the accident and injuries. The full cost of a serious car accident will grow over time, and you are likely to be eligible to be compensated for expenses you have not accounted for, such as over-the-counter pain medication or the cost of public transportation or a rental while your car was being repaired.
Talk to a Kentucky Car Accident Attorney
As you can see, there’s more you don’t want to say to an insurance adjuster after a car accident than there is to ask. At the Becker Law Office, we have represented Kentucky car accident victims in fights with insurance companies for more than 30 years. We can help you demand the compensation you deserve for all of your losses in a car accident. Contact us for a free review of your claim today.