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When should I talk to an insurance adjuster after a car accident?

UPDATED: June 12, 2020

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What you need to know...

  • You should always contact your car insurance company after a traffic accident.
  • You don't have to talk to the other party's insurance company.
  • Always keep a record of your insurance adjuster's information.
  • There is no legal deadline or timetable for the assigned insurance adjuster to respond to your claim.

After a car accident, many drivers have questions about contacting their auto insurance company. When should you talk to an insurance adjuster after a car accident? More importantly, what should you not say? Do you even have to talk to your insurance adjuster at all? Read on to learn how to deal with an insurance adjuster after an accident, or click here to get in touch with a legal expert on auto insurance and accident law.

You can use our FREE online tool to find a car accident attorney near you.

Do you have to talk to an insurance adjuster?

There are many questions you might have about what to do immediately following a car accident, like when do you need to report it to your car insurance company? But the first thing you might be wondering is whether you have to talk to any insurance adjusters at all. The answer depends on whether it's your insurance company's adjuster or an adjuster from the insurer of the other party involved in the accident.

Should I Talk to My Insurance Company After an Accident?

Your own auto insurance carrier is definitely who to contact after a car accident, even after a minor accident. According to the Insurance Information Institute, any time you're involved in a crash, you're required to report it to your auto insurance company, even if you believe the other driver was at fault.

The failure to report an accident may be a violation of your car insurance policy and could jeopardize your coverage. Also, reporting promptly is particularly important if you have injuries or property damage, as this will help speed up the investigation and processing of your claim.

If you're concerned about your insurance premiums increasing, that may or may not be the case. If the accident is not your fault, it’s the first in which you’ve been involved, and your driving history is free of moving violations and/or insurance claims, you may have no premium increase at all.

Should I Talk to the Other Insurance Company After an Accident?

If you're wondering, "Should I call the other driver's insurance company?", the answer is no, you don't have to talk to the other party's insurance company. The adjuster on the other side has to assign responsibility, fault or no fault, for the car accident. It's to their benefit to find fault with you so they won't have an obligation to pay. You don't want to give them potentially incriminating details that could cause them to deny their driver was responsible.

If you filed a third-party claim against the insurance policy of the at-fault driver for damages you suffered in the crash, the other party's insurance company will likely contact you. Before you give any information, you should ask to have your representative involved in the communication. Even if the at-fault driver won't contact his or her insurance or has lied about the accident, it's always better to have your own adjuster or attorney speak on your behalf.

When should you talk to an insurance adjuster after a car accident?

Many people wonder how long you have to call your insurance company after an accident. The general answer is that you should call as soon as possible.

Most policies require policyholders to promptly report a car accident, so it's important to check your insurance policy to see what notice requirements apply. Reporting time frames can be short — even within 24 hours. Because the failure to notify the insurance company within that time frame may result in a denial of coverage, it's important to make a statement to your insurance company right away after the car accident.

How do you deal with an insurance adjuster after an accident?

So now you know you have to contact your insurance adjuster, but do you know how to deal with an auto insurance claims adjuster?

Here are some important tips:

First, keep a record of your adjuster's information. Before you even discuss the accident, ask his or her name, email address, and phone number. Make sure the adjuster's information matches your insurance carrier's information.

Even though the adjuster works for your insurance carrier, they still have the ability to deny your claim, so how do you report your car accident without risking coverage? Until you've had a chance to fully evaluate the extent of personal injuries and property damage, stick to the basics. It's okay to provide your name, address, phone number, and policy number, of course, but be cautious about providing additional personal information like your employment or household details.

You can also give the basic information about the accident, such as where and when the accident happened, the vehicle(s) and any other individual(s) involved, contact information for the other driver's insurance company, and the names of any witnesses. You may be asked to provide your driver's license and license plate numbers. If applicable, give the adjuster the name of the reporting police officer and any police report numbers.

You may want to mention if anything seemed odd about the accident or the other driver. There is a small percentage of accidents that aren't accidental. According to HowStuffWorks, fraudulent accidents are staged by perpetrators in order to receive payment from insurance companies or the individuals involved. It may be worth noting if the other car was really expensive or really old.

Also, be prepared to present support for your claim. Document any damage to your vehicle with photos or repair estimates, and if possible, try to photograph the damage to any other vehicles involved.

It is crucial that you report any injuries that you or anyone else sustains during the accident. But remember, the severity or extent of your injuries may not yet be fully determined, so you may not want to provide those details until you've seen a doctor and have a medical report supporting your injuries.

The bottom line is that you want to work with your adjuster without saying anything that might hurt your claim. If you need time to answer any of the questions, you can always explain that the accident and/or your injuries are still under investigation, and that more details will be provided when they become available.

What should you not say to an insurance adjuster?

There are limits to what you should say to your car insurance adjuster. Here are some things not to say:

  • Don't share personal information about your employment, income, assets, or family members.
  • Don't tell the insurer that you feel fine or that your injuries are minor if they are still being assessed.
  • Don't inflate the extent of your injuries or property damage.
  • Don't guess or speculate as to what happened.
  • Don't agree to have your statement recorded.

How long does an insurance adjuster have to contact you?

There is no legal deadline or timetable for the assigned insurance adjuster to respond to your claim, but it's standard for the insurance adjuster to contact you within the first few days of filing the claim. Most states require insurance companies to address claims within a short period of time. For example, California law only gives companies 40 days to address a claim.

The process of an auto accident insurance claim begins when you contact your insurance company about the accident so they can investigate, negotiate, and hopefully settle the claim to your satisfaction. Some adjusters, however, have significant caseloads and require more time and follow up.

If you don't feel the adjuster is being responsive, you should send a written request by email or letter asking for a response within a reasonable time period. In extreme cases where there hasn't been contact for longer than a month, you may want to request that a supervisor get involved and reassign or assist with the claim.

The key takeaways from this article are that you should contact your auto insurance company right away if you've been in a car accident.

This video from a Florida law firm offers some additional information of when, and when not, to talk to an adjuster:

Your policy may require it, and providing the basic details about the accident will help expedite your claim. Be careful not to speak prematurely about injuries or property damage, and don't be pressured into divulging personal information. Be patient but persistent in following up if you feel it's taking too long for the adjuster to get back in contact with you. If you feel the adjuster or the process is too intimidating, you may want to talk to a car accident lawyer to represent your interests and help resolve your claim.

To find a car accident attorney near you, enter your ZIP code in the box below.

References:

  1. https://www.iii.org/article/background-on-no-fault-auto-insurance
  2. https://money.howstuffworks.com/personal-finance/auto-insurance/5-things-to-tell-insurance-company-after-crash5.htm
  3. http://www.insurance.ca.gov/01-consumers/130-laws-regs-hearings/05-CCR/fair-claims-regs.cfm#settlements

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