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UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020
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If you file a car insurance claim (or have a claim filed by another party against your insurance) you will most likely have to deal with an adjustor. An adjustor is an employee of the insurance agency whose job is to “adjust” or lower the cost borne by the insurance company in any accident. To this end, an adjustor is interested in finding out if the claim is being inflated or is even being filed falsely. This is not to punish honest people but to keep costs low for everyone by finding instances of fraud. In fact, the insurance industry estimates that at least ten percent of all claims filed are in some way fraudulent, and this drives up premiums for honest people.
Therefore, the purpose of an adjustor is to save the insurance company and its customers money. Because of this, honest customers are advised to cooperate with adjustors. However, this cooperation does not extend to minimizing your rights by allowing an adjustor to do anything to compromise your claim. The adjustor is not your enemy, especially if he or she works for your own insurance company, but knowing that the adjustor’s job is to save the company money helps you to keep things in perspective.
What is the adjuster asks me if its ok to record a conversation?
If an adjustor wants to record your conversation, you should understand that this is normal procedure in the insurance industry however its certainly advisable to do without consulting an attorney. Adjustors record conversations to have a concrete record of what was said during an interview. This information is not usually used in any negative way but it certainly can be. You should take precautions before and after talking with the adjustor about your claim and be very careful to have your own record of the conversation, especially if you are talking to an adjustor for a company other than your own.
One thing you can do is to keep a written record of any interactions you have with anyone regarding your claim for the duration of the process. This will help you remember names, dates, and events even if your claim takes some time to settle. If you keep this written record, you will be far more likely to be relaxed during a recorded interview and be able to answer questions correctly.
Should you allow an adjustor to record your interview?
In some cases, you may not have a choice if you want your claim to proceed. However, you can insist that the recording be done in person rather than over the phone, where you are less likely to be able to discern from an adjustor’s body language if he or she is confused, puzzled or disbelieving of anything you say.
You also have the right to record any conversations you have with an adjustor or anyone else you talk with about your claim. However, if you are going to record conversations, you should always inform the person that you are recording the conversation and obtain their permission. Failure to do so could result in legal consequences under wiretap or other laws regarding electronic surveillance.
If you cannot make an audio recording of your interactions with parties involved in your claim, at least make a note in writing about the content of your conversation, the date, time, and place and the names of anyone involved. This will help you preserve a record of any interactions you have during the course of your claim and document statements made in case you later need to prove them.
The purpose of all this documentation, recorded and written, is to protect you in the event that anyone involved in the claim later denies a statement or conversation. This does not often happen, but sometimes it is best to prevent problems before they begin. In fact, the very fact that you have recorded conversations or written the facts down will discourage anyone from “creative memory” lapses later in the process.
For the most part, working with an adjustor does not have to be a frightening experience and most claims are settled quickly and easily without the need for resorting to written records. However, preventing problems is always better than solving them. If you are asked to cooperate with an adjustor by having your conversation recorded, you can probably not worry that anyone is going to use the information in a way you do not want if you have a solid record of what was said during your interview – however that is the problem. Most people don’t know what not to say. A copy of the recorded conversation or your own notes will give you evidence just in case any part of your interview with the adjustor is ever questioned but the safest route is to speak with an attorney first.