There have been a slew of car accidents blocking the Orlando roadways this morning, and this reminds us that if you’re unfortunate to be in one of those accidents, there are some things you need to avoid saying when you file your insurance claim.
First things first, it’s important that you never lie to your insurance company, that is fraud. If you tell them something you know not to be true and they find out they likely won’t pay on the claim you’re making. Additionally they can drop you from their coverage and make it difficult and nearly impossible for you to find coverage with another carrier.
There are, however, some things you can avoid saying.
1.) Don’t say “I’m Sorry.” Saying “Sorry” denotes fault, and may be used against you as your claim is processed. Yes, we know that you’re likely saying you’re sorry the situation has occurred, or you’re sorry you have to take up the time of the person filing the claim, etc., but they may not choose to interpret it that way. Additionally, if that apology finds its way into the police statement, or the recorded phone call to your insurer, it likely will be seen as an admission of fault. So, while you can empathize with the other people in the accident, never say you’re sorry it happened.
2.) You don’t have “Whiplash.” Whiplash is one of those seemingly catch-all diagnoses that many people misunderstand, and claiming you have whiplash may delay your insurance claim and the payment process. Once you’ve been to a physician, and they’ve given you an official diagnosis, you can start telling the insurance companies what you’ve been told.. Never self-diagnose. If you’ve been injured, see a doctor and get those records to your insurance company. As long as you stay on top of them, they’ll take it from there.
3.) Avoid using the phrase “In my opinion….” Unless your day job is an accident reconstruction expert, you shouldn’t have an opinion. Stick to the facts you know and you’re sure you can verify. If you turned left, say, “I turned left,” if you had your blinker on, say that. Never offer a theory or supposition on what happened.
4.) Don’t answer question you weren’t asked. We all like to be helpful and we all like to make sure we give our side of the story when in an accident. But if you’re in an accident, you only know your side of the story, and you don’t know all the details of what occurred. That’s why it is important to provide only the information you’re asked about. You know what you did, what you saw, and what you are thinking. You don’t know what the other people in the accident did, saw, or were thinking, and giving too much information may cause problems with your claim down the line. When you’re giving your report, keep your answers short, simple, and factual. Let the police, the insurance company, and the experts do their jobs and figure out exactly what happened.
5) Never give a recorded statement to the other driver’s insurance company. Let’s not be mistaken here. If the other driver’s insurance company contacts you by phone, in person, or even via email, you shouldn’t say anything until you’ve been in contact with your attorney. The other driver’s insurance company wants to find you at fault, that way they don’t have to pay out on their customer’s claim, and they will do whatever they think they can to get you to say something that seems like an admission of fault. So if they call you or contact you, let them know you’ve hired an attorney, which you will have done, and all requests for information should go through that attorney. It’s the best way to protect yourself, and insure that your insurance company doesn’t end up paying out when the accident was another driver’s fault.
Again, and we really can’t emphasize this enough, it’s important that you don’t lie to anyone. Whether it be your insurance company, the other driver’s, the police on the scene taking the report, or even the other driver. Tell the truth and answer the questions you’re asked, but keep it simple and straightforward.