UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020
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So you’ve filed a claim with your insurance company. Now, they want to send an adjuster to investigate.
What is the car insurance company adjuster looking for? What do you need to know before the adjuster arrives? Today, we’re explaining everything you need to know about what car insurance adjusters look for.
The First Steps
After you file a claim with your insurance company, your insurer will assign a claims adjuster to your case. This adjuster will review your policy and make sure the incident is covered under your policy. The adjuster might finalize your claim in minutes. Or, the adjuster could investigate further details about the incident.
Don’t be alarmed by the adjuster’s questions or inquiries. It’s literally their job to investigate the claim. If you’ve done nothing wrong, then you have nothing to worry about.
What Does a Car Insurance Adjuster Do?
Here are some of the actions a car insurance adjuster might take after you file a claim:
- Request a copy of the police report, if you made one
- Contact the other driver
- Visit the accident scene
- Talk to any witnesses, passengers, or others involved in the accident
- Take photos of your vehicle
- Inspect your vehicle for damages
- Request your medical records (you may be asked to sign a medical release form)
- Contact your medical providers for information about the cost of your medical bills
The Next Steps
Typically, at this point, your insurance company will immediately provide coverage for your medical bills and car repairs.
In a no-fault state, your own car insurance company will always cover the costs of your own medical bills and repairs. In a tort state (37 of 50 states are tort states), the insurance company will work to determine fault, then contact the other driver’s insurance company for compensation (if the other driver’s insurance company was at fault). When your own insurance company pays for your medical bills and damages, this is called indemnification. When the insurance company seeks payment from the at-fault driver’s insurance company, this is called subrogation.
Getting Estimates for Car Repairs
Your car is damaged and needs to be repaired. Typically, your insurance company will explain this process for you very clearly. Typical steps include:
Take your Car to a Specific Repair Shop: Sometimes, your adjuster will require you to take your car to an approved body shop. This body shop has been approved by your car insurance provider of providing legitimate estimates and fair prices on repairs. Sometimes, your adjuster just requires you to get an estimate at an approved body shop, while in other cases, they require you to repair your vehicle at the same body shop.
Get More Quotes: In other cases, your adjuster might request you to get 2 or 3 quotes from different body shops.
Choose your Own Repair Shop: Once you’ve collected one or more estimates, you’re typically free to repair your car at the shop of your choice. Your insurance company will cover the cost of repairs based on the original estimate (at the approved body shop), and you may be required to cover the remaining difference.
Covering your Medical Bills
It’s also the responsibility of your claims adjuster to view and approve your medical bills. You may be asked to sign a medical records waiver. By signing this waiver, you’re agreeing to let your car insurance company view your medical records.
This is where car insurance companies may stop playing fairly. Once a car insurance company has access to your medical records, the company might dig through your history to find something to justify lowering your claim. If you’re on medication – like anti-depressants – that might make you sleepy, for example, then the car insurance company might claim you weren’t fully alert at the time of the accident.
If you’re concerned about signing the medical records waiver, then consider speaking with a personal injury attorney.
How to Prepare for the Adjuster: What You Need
Some of the other things that may be requested by the insurance adjuster will include:
- Your policy number (you can find this on your insurance card and other insurance paperwork)
- The date and time of the accident
- The location of the accident
- A written statement describing how the accident occurred
- The name and insurance information for the other party involved
- The number of the police report and the name of the police department or police officers involved
After collecting all of this information, your claims adjuster will look at your insurance policy, your medical records, your bills, any property damage, and proof of wage loss. Then, the public adjuster will come up with a fair amount of compensation.
Other Documents Requested by your Adjuster
Everything listed above can be provided by you. However, there are some things you can’t provide – like official documents. Some of the official documents that may be requested by the public adjuster include:
- An estimate of property damage
- Information from the other driver’s insurance company
- Police reports
- DMV accident report
Public Adjusters Will Check Social Media
It’s the public adjuster’s job to investigate everything related to the accident. Today, social media is one of the best sources of information. In addition to checking everything above, your car insurance company will check your social media profiles and other aspects of your online presence.
Some things that an adjuster will check on social media include:
They may check Facebook or Twitter to verify that your car was damaged on the date and time you said it was; if you claimed your car was damaged on Friday morning, for example, but you post a picture of the car intact on Saturday night, then your claim may be denied
If you tweeted, texted, or posted in the minutes leading up to an accident, then the insurance company might claim you were illegally using your phone while driving
If you claim you were sober when you got into a single vehicle accident, but there are pictures of you drinking in the hours leading up to the accident, then the insurance company might use that against you
Obviously, the best way to avoid these issues is to avoid filing a fraudulent claim. Alternatively, restrict your privacy settings on social media to ensure only authorized people can view your information.
It’s an adjuster’s job to investigate accident claims. Don’t be alarmed at the investigation process – it’s a natural part of filing a car insurance claim.