I was exchanging emails today with a friend of mine who is also a personal injury attorney. He understands how the world of insurance works so none of this will be a surprise to him. But, a lot of attorneys seem to think that they are the ones who will tell the adjusters what to do.
If you are reading this, you probably know my background. I am an attorney, but I spent the first part of my adult like working as an insurance adjuster, first for two companies, then as an independent adjuster handling claims for many different insurance companies. I went to law school while I was an adjuster. So I know both sides of this.
Not all adjusters are created equally. There are some really good ones, some good ones, some bad ones and some REALLY bad ones. You probably don’t know which is which when you first report a claim. I can tell you which is which within 5 minutes of being on the phone with them. How? Experience.
I start every claim the same way. I send a letter of representation. I talk to the adjuster and explain some basic information about the claim. Then I listen. I don’t argue. I don’t tell the adjuster he or she is wrong. They may know things that I do not know. I also listen for their tone, in addition to what they say. And then I decide how the claim will be handled.
There are some attorneys who start every claim a different way. They assume the adjuster is either dumb or lying and begin with an attitude towards the adjuster. I can tell you, having been an adjuster, that doesn’t make me feel like paying your claim. It makes me feel like being as difficult as I can be.
Remember, you can have the best attorney in the world, but the adjuster has to play ball to settle the case. If the adjuster decides to offer zero on your case or not return calls or not respond to letters, the remedy is to file suit. In California, we do not have third party bad faith. That means you cannot sue the other person’s insurance company for acting in bad faith.
So, you file your suit and litigate your case. And that works. It gets cases resolved. But it costs more time and takes more time. If the reason it is taking more time and costing more money is because your attorney treated the adjuster poorly, are you really better off?
Before you hire an attorney for your car crash (car accident, if you insist), ask him or her their opinions on dealing with adjusters. It could be the difference between settling your claim and ending up in trial.