6 Tips From An Insurance Claims Adjuster

One of our readers is an insurance claims adjuster, the guy who comes out to inspect damages, and he sent in 6 tips to help consumers through the claims process.

Essentially he advises people that they’ll get more from being armed with facts and behaving like a professional adult than through histrionics.

6. Be forthright and cooperative, you may not like all the answers you get, but be polite.

5. Do your research. Call your agent and as for a copy of your policy language if you don’t have it. Look and see what is covered and what isn’t. Maybe you don’t have rental car coverage like you thought you did? Most insurance does not automatically cover rental cars.

4. Your agent is not a claims adjuster and typically will give incorrect advice. Be forewarned.

3, When your car is totaled, they will do research in your market to value your car compared to what equivalent models can be sold for. So check your local autotrader, classifieds, etc. to get an idea of what a car comparable to yours is being sold for. This way, you know when your offer is fair or not.

2. If the offer isn’t fair compared to your research, try to be polite still. Offer to send in the research you’ve done. Adjusters can’t make decisions and payments without having hard copies in their files to justify what they’ve done. Usually the adjuster will be happy to look at your paperwork and make the fair offer.

1. When all else fails, and you’ve been polite, and it hasn’t gotten you anywhere, speak with a supervisor, and start to take a look on the internet at your state’s insurance regulations. Typically they can be found in the state statutes on the web, for free.

“Basically, we deal with claimants all day,” writes our reader.” When they yell at us and get pissed at us, it’s not very motivating to help them or go beyond our typical modus operandi to make things right. Usually, those that get pissed get the bare minimum we can give them, and we get rid of those people as quickly as we can. When I get a claimant who is polite and cooperative, it makes my job a lot more pleasant, and I’m more willing to go out of my way to help said claimant to make things right…you get more with cupcakes than you do with swords.”

Comments

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  1. Zgeg says:

    Mmmmm… Cupcakes….

  2. jrdnjstn78 says:

    Find out what’s on your policy as soon as you can. Get rental and towing, know how much your rental amount is. Make sure you have enough coverage to cover your medical bills and your family if you have any, in case they are in the car with you. Make sure you have PIP. I can’t think of anything else. I learned all of these in accidents I’ve had. You’d think the insurance agent would try and sell you what you need because it’s more money for them.

  3. That image is the best thing ever.

    So, in conclusion, you’l

    In conclusion you’ll what? Don’t leave us hanging! :)

    Most insurance does not automatically cover rental cars.

    Isn’t that counter to what other web sites have said in their advice about renting cars?

    you get more with cupcakes than you do with swords

    CAKE OR DEATH!

  4. Trai_Dep says:

    Be sure to clean up slow-reflexed childrens’ and (formerly) leaping-across-roadway unicorn hair stuck in the grill with bleach, not water.

  5. Clarkins says:

    I was also an insurance adjuster years ago. I echo all his comments, especially the way you treat your adjuster.
    I would also suggest looking into buying “gap insurance” from your car dealer. It is supposed to pay the difference between the value the insurance company rates your car at and the amount you owe on the vehicle on the chance there is a discrepancy. Insurance does not buy you a brand new car no matter what the agent says.

  6. Cisslepants says:

    Amen to #4 on the list.
    Also? Understand your deductible. If you don’t know what a deductible is, or how it pertains to what you’re eligible to receive under the terms of your policy, you may be in for a surprise. Old news for most Consumerists I’m sure, but I have a feeling most customer/claims interactions would be much smoother with this knowledge.

  7. bluesunburn says:

    I agree with #4 on that list completely.
    I work for an insurance company helping policyholders open claims for long term care insurance (paying for things like nursing home stays and such). In my experience, there are two types of agents: The first type, agents that do great work, and genuinely care for their clients are a rarity. The second, more common type are jerks that (wilfully or accidentally) pass misinformation on to their clients, and get all huffy when we correct them. A good chunk of my day is damage control thanks to them.

  8. jmuskratt says:

    “it’s not very motivating to help them”

    Especially when you’re being motivated by bonuses to keep payouts low.

  9. ehrgeiz says:

    @jrdnjstn78: You will find most agents don’t know jack when it comes to doing their job, the office staff are the ones that know how it works so that is probably why that was never offered to you. Agents are most there to get paid but have no idea how to do anything.

  10. Buran says:

    You “get rid of people faster” by giving them what they want, you do realize that don’t you?

    … if only people would stop trying to get it by throwing a fit or inconveniencing everyone else.

  11. RandomHookup says:

    #7 — Never try to hit your adjuster.

    My dad was an adjuster for 35 years at one company and some doofus took a swing at him. Now mind you, my dad was in his 60’s and as easygoing as they come, so he didn’t present anyone a threat. Daddio put the much younger douchewaffle in the hospital with one punch.

    So there.

  12. kc2idf says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation:

    CAKE OR DEATH!

    We’re all out of cake; we weren’t expecting such a response.

  13. dbeahn says:

    “You can get more of what you want with a kind word and a gun than you can with just a kind word…”

    -A. Capone

    Thank GOODNESS Capone didn’t know about cupcakes!

    He’s right tho – anyone that has a job in which they deal with the public will tell you that when someone screams at them, 80% of the time or more it just makes the service person decide they aren’t going to go the extra mile for the person that’s treating them in an abusive manner. Be polite, be assertive and you get empathy and people are willing to go to bat for you.

  14. kenposan says:

    BY JMUSKRATT:

    “it’s not very motivating to help them”
    Especially when you’re being motivated by bonuses to keep payouts low.

    Not my experience at all. I have had multiple claims and have never had this issue. On my cars, I was told to take it wherever I wanted to get it fixed and if the amount exceeded the claims estimate, they’d take care of it. When my house was pummeled by hail, I got new siding and a new roof no problem.

    Guess I am the lucky exception.

  15. royal72 says:

    “6 Tips From An Insurance Claims Adjuster… On How To Fuck Yourself With Your Insurance Company”

    6. Be forthright and cooperative, you may not like all the answers you get, but be polite.
    – yes, honesty is always the best policy! especially when that information will be used against you. they’ll find every last bit of fine print and contingency to make sure they don’t have to pay you. the less you get paid, the more they get.

    5. Do your research. Call your agent and as for a copy of your policy language if you don’t have it. Look and see what is covered and what isn’t. Maybe you don’t have rental car coverage like you thought you did? Most insurance does not automatically cover rental cars.
    – see above.

    4. Your agent is not a claims adjuster and typically will give incorrect advice. Be forewarned.
    – you are correct. my agent is a salesman, he just wants me to buy as much insurance as possible and really couldn’t care less about the details… you know, there’s a reason why there are “insurance salesman” jokes.

    3, When your car is totaled, they will do research in your market to value your car compared to what equivalent models can be sold for. So check your local autotrader, classifieds, etc. to get an idea of what a car comparable to yours is being sold for. This way, you know when your offer is fair or not.
    – be prepared to get screwed. i suggest having some lube handy for the occasion.

    2. If the offer isn’t fair compared to your research, try to be polite still. Offer to send in the research you’ve done. Adjusters can’t make decisions and payments without having hard copies in their files to justify what they’ve done. Usually the adjuster will be happy to look at your paperwork and make the fair offer.
    – do the words “red tape” or “bureaucratic hell” mean anything to you?… go do your research and send it in. they’ll simply stall and go through the motions for as long as it takes. you will give up and take what they give you, because you need your car back asap.

    1. When all else fails, and you’ve been polite, and it hasn’t gotten you anywhere, speak with a supervisor, and start to take a look on the internet at your state’s insurance regulations. Typically they can be found in the state statutes on the web, for free.
    – so, after i’ve spent six months of haggling, a total of 53 hours enjoying your hold music, 11 letters of the same information sent to no fewer than 3 people, 6 faxes of that same info that was “lost in the mail”, 4 weeks of waiting for the “supervisor” to “investigate” and come back with the same offer… then i can go lobby my state officials to help me with my insurance claim, just to continue the maddening cycle, while i’m still without my god damned car? yeah that sounds great, i’ll be sure to get right on that!

    ps. why are your six “tips” styled as a count down?

  16. royal72 says:

    @kc2idf: “CAKE OR DEATH!… We’re all out of cake; we weren’t expecting such a response.”

    well i’ll have the chicken then.

  17. harshmellow says:

    Uninsured motorist is recommended as well.

    On this list, I like #4 the best.

    4. Your agent is not a claims adjuster and typically will give incorrect advice. Be forewarned.

    This is true, an agent is not a claims adjuster. One is there to GET as much of your money and the other is to make sure you TAKE as little of “theirs” as possible.

    And after all your hard work proving that your car was worth more than $500, you may think you won by getting more money from them…only to turn around and your rates have gone up. Cheers!

  18. Sudonum says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation:
    They are talking a renting a replacement car for the one that was just totaled. Not that your credit card insurance won’t cover you if you wreck your rental car while on vacation.

    DEATH BY CAKE

  19. boreddusty says:

    THIS IS DELICIOUS!

    THIS…IS…CAKETOWN!

  20. castlecraver says:

    @Clarkins: No. Gap insurance is a TERRIBLE idea. If you really owe so much more on your car than it’s worth that you couldn’t absorb it on your own or buying a gap policy even seems worth the trouble, you’d do better to buy “Personal Finance for Dummies” instead.

  21. LionelEHutz says:

    The consumer has to give the cupcakes? Geico gives people an english muffin with butter and jam with every call. The consumer doesn’t have to give up a thing.

  22. vanilla-fro says:

    To all those that are saying that adjusters get bonuses for not paying claims….wrong most of the time the bonus comes because of how many claims you handled in a given amount of time.

    and those that think all insurance companies are out to screw you, some are, but for the most part you screw yourself by not knowing what you are paying for. Maybe your agent screws you i don’t know, but it is a lot cheaper in the long run for a company to not screw its customers. A lot less legal fees that way.
    Another tip, if someone else is at fault, go through your carrier. They have a contract with you that says they have to fix your car regardles of fault (normally, see: agents sucking sometimes) the other parties carrier can take their time to investigate and then may find their insured not 100% at fault so you have to pay some anyway.

  23. LoneRider says:

    Document everything! Be presumptive, if you think the claim should be covered under comprehensive make sure you get the person you talk to into buying off on that (tier 1 claims). About 5 years ago I got caught in a rock slide in N. California, each time I talk to someone new at Progressive they gave it a slight try to put the claim down as collision (ie. reason to up my rates), I just got out my Treo, looked at my records for the last person I talked to and replied “Well at extension 12345 agreed with me that it was a comprehensive claim”, after a 15 second pause the claims adjuster I was talking to would reply, “oh yeah, comprehensive claim……”.

    Being able to kindly refresh them of previous conversations and go a long towards getting the end you want.

    BTW, I was, and still are covered by Progressive, even though that lizard might be able to dish out cheaper rates, from talking to many riders who have unfortunately had accidents, that company choose a perfect mascot. (back to lurking mode for me)

  24. LoneRider says:

    @LoneRider: I did not notice but text got removed, accident use if angle brackets, it should read “Well (agent name) at ext 12345 said”, sorry about that

  25. Raziya says:

    OMFG, best image EVER. I couldn’t stop laughing. Good tips, too!

  26. Crazytree says:

    “Your agent is not a claims adjuster and typically will give incorrect advice. Be forewarned.”

    No the insurance companies need to be FOREWARNED that an agent is in fact an AGENT of the corporation and make bind the company.

    The only way to deal with adjusters is to know the insurance code, or have a lawyer who does. In CA there are several things they’re required to do, like send you a letter every 30 days informing you of the status of your claim.

    REally the only bat you have to deal with the insurers is if you’re making an UM claim… they have the potential for bad-faith litigation.

  27. allthatsevil says:

    @royal72: “well i’ll have the chicken then.”

    Tastes of human, sir. Would you like a white wine?

  28. shor0814 says:

    @Crazytree:
    And you really know if they are being honest if you ask them to put their statements in writing, and they actually do it!

  29. avantartist says:

    i was a claimant who was polite and cooperative but that got me no where. my blood boils when ever i hear the word “insurance”.

  30. Clarkins says:

    I NEVER got a bonus for keeping claim payouts low when I was an adjuster. I’m not saying t doesn’t happen but no one in my office (Farmers) got bonuses like that.

    CASTLECRAVER–Thanks for the advice. I got it because it was only $10 more a month and this was the first brand new, not previously used in anyway vehicle my wife and I bought.

  31. vanilla-fro says:

    Also with claimants: remember that you may not actually be entitled to a bunch of money because you fell/got hurt somewhere. Being polite won’t get you anything if there is no liability on the other party’s part, but being rude and mean may get you investigated for the fraud you may be trying to pull. And if they catch you throwin’ the football with little Jonny after you tell the adjuster you can’t use your arm, you may have a rough time ahead of you.

  32. Anonymous says:

    Insurance adjusters are “fiduciary agents” and should never settle a claim based on “liking” the client. Most people are upset not with the adjusters but with the insurance agents for not disclosing all the information at the time of contract. I don’t agree with the practice of adjusting low if the client is rude or upset, everybody should receive the same professional and fair assesment to their situation.