When you make a car insurance claim after a car accident, the insurance company employee who's in charge of settling your claim is typically called an "adjuster." In this article we'll cover:
An insurance claims adjuster is the insurance company employee who is charged with investigating the facts of a car accident and negotiating a settlement of the claim.
In the insurance context, the word "adjust" means to determine or settle a claim or to assess a loss or claimed damage. In investigating a claim, your lawyer (if you have one) and the insurance adjuster are both doing the same things; they're trying to figure out what happened and what the claim is worth.
After a car accident, an insurance adjuster might handle a claim filed by either:
For purposes of our discussion, let's assume you're making a third party claim, so you're dealing with an adjuster for the other driver's insurance company.
Once an insurance adjuster is assigned a claim, the first thing they'll want to do is to get their customer's (their insured driver's) version of the facts.
The adjuster will:
Learn more about contacting your car insurance company after a car accident and what to expect when you're interviewed by a car insurance adjuster.
Of course, experienced adjusters understand that their customers aren't always telling the truth. Good adjusters know when to make judgment calls on their own insured drivers' believability.
The adjuster will then request the official records—including the police report and any accident-related reports the drivers filed with the state department of motor vehicles, if such documents exist.
The first email or letter to the claimant (or to the claimant's lawyer) is usually generic correspondence that:
The adjuster will likely have already investigated you by this time! Insurers have various claims databases they can access to determine whether you've filed a personal injury or property damage claim before. The adjuster will likely do a quick online investigation too. They'll want to know who they're dealing with and also want to dig up any dirt they can.
Insurance adjusters will usually ask that a claimant give a recorded statement describing the accident and their injuries. As a general rule, giving such a statement in a car accident case will not help you, especially if you don't have a lawyer.
Once the adjuster has all of your medical records and bills and all of the other information that they'll need to assess how much your car accident claim is worth, they'll put a dollar value on the claim and try to settle it. Learn more about the process of calculating a car insurance settlement after an accident.
Keep in mind that the insurance adjuster's job here is to do everything they can to minimize the value of your claim and get you to accept as little as possible in order to close your file.
If you don't have a lawyer, the adjuster will generally ask you how much you want to settle the case. Don't give a number first. Ask the adjuster how much they'll offer to settle. Now you're in the negotiation stage of your claim.
If the adjuster's first settlement offer is too low—and if you don't have a lawyer, it will almost certainly be an unreasonably low offer—you can put together a formal demand letter in which you:
Maybe you've tried negotiating a car accident settlement on your own, but the adjuster just doesn't seem to be taking you or your claim seriously. Perhaps the adjuster is pushing back on a key issue related to your car accident claim—like who was at fault for the accident, or the legitimacy of your injuries or medical treatment. In most instances, putting your car accident case in the hands of an experienced legal professional is the best way to ensure a fair result.
Learn more about finding and hiring the right car accident lawyer. You can also use the tools right on this page to connect with a car accident lawyer in your area.