Do You Have to Give Insurance Adjusters a Recorded Statement?
It’s common practice for insurance adjusters to ask car accident victims to provide recorded statements about their crash for recordkeeping, usually detailing their experience or injuries in regards to the accident. Fortunately, you do not usually need to provide a recorded statement unless your policy says otherwise; beyond not needing to, you, in fact, should make it an active habit to avoid providing formal, recorded statements to adjusters.
Insurance adjuster’s interests in statements are rarely purely clerical in nature—instead, they’re looking for ammunition to use against you when doubting and devaluing your future settlement. Operating under Arizona’s comparative fault system, they need only prove partial fault on your part in order to directly reduce the amount you’re eligible to receive; any statement, whether it be an apology, comment about the crash, or mention of your injuries, can be used against you in this regard to tilt points of reasonable debatability further and further against you.
When You Should and Shouldn’t Provide a Statement
In general, you shouldn’t provide statements to adjusters unless you have to; however, there are times when it can be acceptable and reasonable to do so. Knowing when it is and isn’t ok to give an adjuster a recorded statement can help remove stress from the equation:
- Never provide a statement to an insurance company before you’ve reached MMI after an auto accident (Maximum Medical Improvement, i.e. the point at which you are fully recovered or are not expected to recover further). These could be used to contradict and devalue future complications or medical conditions.
- When dealing with other insurance companies, it’s never in your best interest to provide a statement; you aren’t beholden to a contract from them, and their only priority is to minimize how much they have to spend on you. Any statement you give to them can and will be used against you in full.
- If you’re filing a claim through your personal insurance company, rather than that of another driver, it’s safer to provide a statement—your insurance company is interested in keeping your business, so they won’t be as ruthless as a third party company would be. However, you should still keep things brief and adhere to the minimum necessary statements set forth by your policy.
If you do choose to provide a statement, you should consult an auto accident attorney in Arizona beforehand to get advice on what you should or shouldn’t say. However, there are always certain things you should avoid saying; comments on your condition and injuries are to be avoided, as should any comment about things you aren’t 100% sure about. Be consistent, avoid excessive detail, and, if necessary, refuse to give answers to certain questions if you’re unclear or concerned about them. Studies have shown that eyewitness accounts of auto accidents are often flawed, so even if you’re relatively sure about certain details, you should withhold as much as possible to avoid accidental discrepancies, waiting until the investigation concludes to say more.
Consult an Arizona Auto Accident Attorney First
If you’re planning to provide a recorded statement to an insurance adjuster, it’s best to check with a Phoenix auto accident attorney first, so that they can advise you as to whether or not you should, and if you do, what you should and shouldn’t say. ELG has extensive experience dealing with auto accident claims and insurance adjusters, so give us a call at (623) 877-3600 to schedule a free consultation with someone who cares, and learn more about how recorded statements could affect your case.