Initial Contact With the Insurance Company
After an accident, you can expect to be overwhelmed with new terminology and an unfamiliar process. However, some of what occurs in starting your claims process involves communicating with the insurance company about your various claims. As such, it is not uncommon to receive a request from the insurance company for more information or details related to the accident.
For most of these conversations, you should remember that your goal is to present your claim in writing via a formal demand package. Therefore, you should strive to only provide the bare minimum of information needed to open and validate the claim with the insurance company. Basic information needed to open and validate an insurance claim includes general accident-related information such as date, time and simple mechanics of the accident, your contact information, and a description of the witnesses involved.
Naturally, it is common for accident victims to want to provide all the facts and information they have, describe witness statements and discuss medical injuries and treatment. As best you can, hold off on most of the details of your claim until you present your formal demand package.
What Should I Be Cautious About During Initial Conversations?
Regardless of whether or not the insurance company is asking for a recorded statement, you should be very careful in how you answer questions pertaining to the accident itself.
Your conversation may still be recorded, so it is important to frame your responses appropriately. Occasionally, people have a tendency to get overly emotional following a motor vehicle accident, and they let their feelings dictate the overall narrative of what happened.
This can lead to embellishing the truth or over-analyzing the other driver’s actions. It is best to stick to what you know happened and to keep your responses simple and to the point.
For more information on developing a theory of negligence, check out our article on the topic.
What if the Insurance Company Specifically Requests a Recorded Statement?
If the liability insurance company is asking for a recorded statement, it is important to understand that you are not required to provide a recorded statement. However, you are required to give an examination under oath if the uninsured/underinsured insurance company asks. Failure to do so may result in a denial of coverage.
Regardless, if the liability insurance company requests or demands a recorded statement, it is best to politely decline regardless of their reaction or threats.
While the insurance adjuster may press the issue by saying that this statement is required in order for them to complete their investigation, it is worth noting that this is not necessarily true.
Remember that the insurance company wants to limit their liability, and if an adjuster gains information that reasonably (or even sometimes unreasonably) allows them to deny coverage, they will. Moreover, anything you say during a recorded statement may be used against you should you have to file a lawsuit.
What Types of Questions Will the Insurance Company Ask During a Recorded Statement?
If you are giving an insurance company a recorded statement, their line of questioning will likely fall into one of four categories:
- Background information about you (residence history, taxpayer history, family information, employment history, etc.)
- Prior injuries or claims
- Injuries resulting from this motor vehicle accident
- Details about the accident itself
You may be wondering why the insurance adjuster requests so much background information. The insurance company wants to make sure that you are not committing fraud, and one way of determining that is asking you these types of questions. It also may be that they already know the answers to some of the questions and want to make sure that you are answering them truthfully. If you lie or misrepresent facts from your past, it will almost certainly affect the insurance company’s investigation.
Likewise, questions pertaining to your prior injuries are asked to determine whether or not you are misrepresenting the true nature of injuries sustained in this motor vehicle accident. For example, if you were receiving treatment for back injuries up until the date of the accident, and you continued to see the same medical provider following the accident with no increase in pain level or complicating factors, the insurance company may determine that you did not sustain any new injuries from this motor vehicle accident. This could allow them to deny or limit coverage.
The last two categories are fairly self-explanatory. However, it is worth noting that you should have a fairly significant level of knowledge about the accident and your injuries before giving a recorded statement, as you may be asked to provide very detailed information about both. For example, you may be asked whether the damage to your rear bumper was from this accident or from a prior accident, whether you immediately received treatment and whether you followed your provider’s medical advice when choosing your treatment.
You may also be asked several questions about the type of treatment you received for your injuries. For example, if you saw a chiropractor or physical therapist, they may ask how long your treatment sessions lasted, how present the chiropractor or physical therapist was during said treatment sessions and whether or not you were given a choice about what treatment options to pursue. This may be more related to the insurance company’s investigation of certain providers suspected of overbilling or over-treating patients, but you should still be as honest and forthcoming with information as reasonably possible.
If you are not privy to certain information or cannot answer a question without resorting to speculation, it is advisable that you answer the question with, “I don’t recall,” or, “I do not have enough information to answer your question.” Do not speculate or over-explain a topic that you do not know enough about as it may only hurt your chances of recovery.
What if the Adjuster Requests a Statement, But Important Information Is Missing?
Oftentimes, important documents and materials, such as police reports, witness statements and property damage appraisals, are not yet available when the insurance company is requesting the recorded statement. Therefore, you may not have all the information you need to make an accurate and complete statement about what happened. Instead, the best practice is to wait until you are ready to send a demand letter that lays out all of your claims and damages more fully.
This way, you are presenting well-developed arguments to the insurance company about the incident itself and why the other party was at fault, as well as providing a clearer picture of the injuries you sustained. For more information on how to write a demand letter, please refer to this link on our website.
After sending the insurance adjuster a demand letter, you can then engage in a recorded conversation about the facts of your motor vehicle accident and the damages you sustained. You can use the demand letter as a guide for answering any questions that the insurance adjuster might have about the accident or your injuries.
Are there Any Benefits to Providing a Recorded Statement?
If you have a choice in the matter, it is always best to hold off on providing a recorded statement until you have all of the facts. However, if you have purchased MedPay coverage and your own insurance company is requesting a recorded statement, it often required and therefore beneficial to make the statement earlier on in the process so that your MedPay benefits can be approved and you can start getting reimbursed for your medical expenses. You may also want to consider telling an adjuster that you wish to limit the scope of the recorded statement to just the mechanics of the accident, given that your medical treatment is documented in the medical records more effectively than you can recall from memory.
In conclusion, when an insurance company requests that you provide a recorded statement about an incident for which you are claiming personal injury, the smartest practice is to be polite but firm in saying that your investigation of the incident is still ongoing and you will not be providing a statement at this time. If you must provide a recorded statement, the most important factor to remember is that your statement will play a significant role in the insurance company’s evaluation of your claim, so you must be truthful. Even the slightest misrepresentation can harm your chances of an adequate recovery.