Insurance Adjuster Friendly Isn’t Equal to Being Your Friend
I’ve been in the personal injury business for over 30 years and during that period of time I’ve seen exactly what Matt Fisher accuses Progressive Insurance Company of doing; albeit not by Progressive, but by another insurance company who’s identity I can not recall. Let’s set up the facts so the conflict is easily understood.
You get in an accident and first thing you do is call you auto insurance agent to report the claim. He then asks you to give a statement and you do because in your mind this is your insurance company and certainly they will be on your side. The claim proceeds and you find out the dirt bag on the other side of the case has no insurance or not enough insurance to cover your damages. That’s where the rub comes into play, because now the case is clearly set up to pit your own insurance company against you. You will now have a claim for uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage on your own insurance policy, the one you bought and paid for. Unfortunately for you the insurance adjuster you thought you could trust to take care of you, you know the good neighbor and the one who you’re in good hands with, are now your opponents. And there lies the rub. If you said anything to the adjuster that in any way implied you may be at fault, or worse if you admitted fault, the insurance company will use your own words against you and in favor of the dirt bag defendant. Yes, you screwed yourself by trying to be “honest” and cooperative with your own insurance company.
Now I know may of you will say, “Oh come on Lombardi, you’re really jaded, after all the client was the one that admitted to their own fault.” Yeah they did but the adjusters are trained to ask questions and extract information that in big damage cases will be used against their own insureds. Facts are facts but stringing facts together in a sentence is an art form that either implies or dissuades the impression of fault, comparative fault or your own fault. Once you give a statement trying to explain what you meant isn't likely to carry the day. In the case I'm familiar with my client's own insurance company hired a lawyer to defend the uninsured at-fault driver, figuring we would later come after them with an uninsured motorist claim. My client was furious, as you would be.
Jaded? Hell I'm not jaded, I'm simply informed. If you think this game is about fairness think again. When have you ever the entire history of insurance ever heard an adjuster say, "We can't pay you what you're asking for, you entitled to more, and it wouldn't be fair to pay you so little." Fair? What's fair about a business model that sells itself as your good neighbor and then seeks to screw the customer to make money? There's nothing fair at all about insurance; it's about the bottom line and promoting the float; which is exactly why Warren Buffett owns GEICO.
If before giving a statement to any insurance agent or adjuster, you don’t get legal advice in a large damage case, you’re a fool. Just because a professional is friendly does not make them your friend.
So here is the story that led to this blog. Thanks Barbara for the heads up on the lead story.
The videos imbeded do not match the story but I thought you might find this story interesting. The insurance company (Progressive) for the young woman who was killed was in bed with the insurance company of the defendant (Nationwide).