If you've been in a car accident, one of the first things you should do is contact your insurance company. During that first phone call, or shortly afterward, you can expect to have an interview about the car accident and the circumstances surrounding it.
This interview provides the adjuster with the information he or she needs to get your claim started, and to pursue action against other drivers or parties who may be at fault for the accident. The interview also helps protect the insurance company (and you) against fraud. While it may seem intimidating, the auto insurance adjuster interview is basically a fact-finding process -- not an interrogation. This article lays out what to expect during your first interview with an insurance adjuster after a car accident. For more tips on dealing with your car insurance carrier after a crash, check out Contacting Your Insurance Company After a Car Accident.
How Will I Be Interviewed?
Most interviews by auto insurance adjusters take place over the telephone, but if your adjuster has a local office, you may have an in-person interview.
If the insurance adjuster wants to record the interview (or any portion of it), they’ll ask for your permission first. Keep in mind that you don’t have any legal obligation to give a recorded statement. If you don’t want anything you say to be recorded, simply make that clear to the adjuster.
If you need accommodations for the interview due to hearing-related disability, difficulty understanding English, or any other issue, let your adjuster know so that you’ll have the resources you need to participate in the interview.
What Will the Interview Cover?
During the interview, the adjuster will ask you a number of questions related to your car accident. The answers to these questions will help the adjuster document what happened (from your point of view) and determine whether any other party may be partially or totally responsible for the accident and the damages resulting from it.
The number of questions and the details they request may seem overwhelming, especially if you're still recovering from an injury. Simply try to respond to each question as honestly as possible, telling the adjuster what you remember. If you don't remember something or aren't sure you're remembering correctly, tell the adjuster “I don't remember” or “I'm not sure.”
Common questions an insurance adjuster may ask include:
- Where did the accident occur (intersection, etc.)?
- Which direction were you heading?
- How did the accident occur?
- What did you see, hear, and otherwise observe?
- What other vehicles were involved?
- Was anyone hurt? If so, who was hurt? What are their names and contact information?
- Was anyone treated by paramedics or taken to a medical facility for treatment? If so, who treated them, or where were they taken?
- Did anyone witness the accident? What are their names and contact information?
- Did a police officer come to the scene? If so, from what agency? Do you have the officer’s name or badge number?
- Was a police report taken?
- Did you have the vehicle towed, or did you take it to a repair shop? Which one?
- Do you have copies of any bills, receipts, or other paperwork relating to the accident?
What Happens After the Interview?
Your adjuster will use the information from the interview, along with other information he or she has gathered, to estimate the dollar value of your claim. This amount is known as an “offer.” If you believe an offer is too low, you may wish to contest the amount offered. (More about What to Do If the Adjuster’s Offer is Too Low.)
Once you have signed the offer paperwork (and the accompanying release), your acceptance of the settlement of your claim becomes final. Learn more about Final Settlement of Vehicle Damage Claims.