Car Accident Claims: The Written vs. Recorded Statement

Compare and contrast advantages to providing a written record as opposed to answering the investigator's questions.

Written and recorded statements are part of nearly every automobile accident case, whether it is a simple insurance claim or a full-blown lawsuit. But should you always agree to give a recorded statement? Are there advantages to providing a written record as opposed to answering questions posed by an investigator? Read on to learn more.

Insurance Companies Prefer Recorded Statements

Insurance companies are notorious for pressuring claimants and witnesses into providing recorded statements during auto accident investigations. And the push for a recorded statement usually starts during the first claim phone call. The reason for this is simple: insurance adjusters -- or their independent investigators -- more often than not have a “script” for recorded statements. Since the adjuster or investigator is asking the questions, they can focus on the information they believe is relevant to the claim -- which may differ significantly from what you feel is relevant. Recorded statements are easier for adjusters and investigators to process and control. (Get tips on the Insurance Adjuster Interview After a Car Accident.)

In most situations, adjusters or investigators will ambush you with the recorded statement request. As a result, most recorded statements happen without input from an attorney. The statement you give (written or recorded) will likely have a direct effect on any decision regarding liability for the accident, so in some cases legal counsel could mean the difference between getting compensation and having a claim denied.

Certainly, it is possible that your recorded statement could be sufficiently specific -- or sufficiently ambiguous -- to sway any decision in your favor, but that is rare. Most recorded statements sound as if the person giving the statement was put on the spot, and in most cases that is true. Insurance companies prefer recorded statements because more often than not they benefit the insurer to the detriment of the insured.

Learn more: How Your Recorded Statement Can Be Used Against You.

Written Statements

In an insurance claim, you have the right to submit a written statement. Depending upon your policy you may not have the right to outright deny offering a recorded statement, but you are never barred from submitting a written missive stating your version of events. Yet many people forego this opportunity to tell their side of the story. Don’t be one of those people.

Providing a written statement to an insurance company allows you to spell out—with as much or as little detail as you desire—exactly what happened leading up to the claim. Since a written statement is done on your own time, there is no pressure to “get it right” the first time. You can write, edit, rewrite and seek input from other people. And you can discuss your statement with an attorney should you so desire. With a written statement, you control the message and aren’t dependent upon an adjuster or investigator who may or may not ask the “right” questions in a recorded statement.

If you’ve been in a car accident, you’ll have to give a statement to an insurance company at some point. While there is no “right or wrong” way to give a statement, a written statement affords you much more control regarding the tone and content of the message. Remember -- any statement you give could be used against you later on in the claim, or if the case goes to court. If you’ve been asked to provide a statement in an auto accident claim, consult with an attorney if you have any misgivings. An experienced attorney can be your greatest asset when you're going up against seasoned claims adjusters and investigators.

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