Insurance & Bad Faith
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What Claims Information Does an Insurance Adjuster Gather?
What Is an Adjuster?
An insurance claims adjuster is a professional hired by an insurance company. An adjuster is not a third-party neutral, nor a consumer advocate.
What Does an Adjuster Do?
The adjuster is dispatched to the accident scene, auto repair business, parties' residences, or whatever location contains the vehicle. The adjuster's task is to ascertain the damage amounts and injuries caused by the accident. Although rarely reduced to writing and perhaps unspoken, the adjuster's directives from the insurer are to restrict damage amounts the insurer is required to pay by establishing the property damage and personal injuries are not as significant as claimant asserts.
Investigation of Damage
An adjuster begins his or her work with a review of vehicles involved in the accident, as well as any other property that may have been impacted. The adjuster takes measurements, pictures, notes, and similar information about damages claimed from the accident. Some adjusters may be responsible for taking the wrecked vehicle(s) to auto repair businesses approved by the insurance company for receiving an estimate for repairs.
Most major insurance companies equip adjusters with standard forms they must complete. In today's computerized culture, these forms may be electronic or reduced to electronic form once prepared. The computerized forms are then accessible to other professionals within the insurance company.
Repair Costs Investigation
After the adjuster deposits the vehicle or other property at a repair business to receive an estimate, he or she will review the quote to ascertain whether it is reasonable. Adjusters conduct market or industry research to make a determination of an appropriate cost for repairs. Adjusters will seek out the cheapest providers of repairs and may dispute that some tasks need to be performed to keep the repair bill low.
Adjusters may decide to interview the parties in a car accident or key witnesses, such as passengers or passersby. Adjusters may decide to do this if the damages claimed or personal injuries are significant, the claim is too large or seems unreasonable, or if the insurer wants to pay the lowest claim figure possible. Adjusters ask about how the accident happened, damages, and conduct of the parties. The interview conversation may be used later in claims or legal processes, often against the claimant. For this reason, some claimants prefer to hire legal counsel prior to submitting to any insurance interview. Insured parties must be careful not to admit liability or fault in any phone conversations, visits, or interviews with adjusters or other representatives of insurers.
Final Written Report
The adjuster will prepare a written report from the information and data he or she gathered. The report will focus upon damages caused by the accident and costs to repair damages. The report will recommend a dollar amount to offer the insured party for the claim. The report is prepared only for the eyes of the insurance company and is not provided to the insured party. The insured party is notified by the insurer of the offer that will be made in settlement of the claim, or if the claim will be denied and no money will be offered.