Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Work: How to survive an Auto Claim


I have worked in auto insurance my entire adult life.  I spent almost 10 years working for the big lizard company first in underwriting then claims.  I moved to a smaller company where I worked for 14 years first as an adjuster then as a manager in claims.  Recently, through no fault of the employees that company went bankrupt and I moved to my third company.  This time I choose to work for a start up company where I am currently working in claims with the knowledge that I will be promoted to management when the position opens.  I work from about 7:45am to somewhere after 6pm Monday-Friday and often my lunch is spent at my desk doing the things I can't get done during normal business hours. I tell you this so you understand your claims people work.  We work a lot. We work hard.  The work is mentally exhausting.  I have delt with angry people and I have seen claims that made me cry.  Usually the fatalities.  When I get home every night my husband asks "How was your day?" With a tone of worry.  I'm tough and usually I can handle it but by Friday, I am spent.  

So when you have an auto accident there are a few things you need to understand. 

-Major police departments probably do not come out for non-injury accidents.  

-You need to make sure you are safe.  So move your cars off to the side as quickly as possible.   I have seen fatalities occur because people were standing in the road.  Nobody wants that.  

-Remain calm.  Nobody likes accidents but they ARE accidents.  If they were not they would be called intentional.  Don't yell and scream.  Nobody was trying to kill you.  It's an accident.  Shit happens. 

-Take pictures of your car, the other car, the insurance card, and the drivers license of the people involved.  

-Just because someone has an insurance card doesn't mean they paid the premium.  Most cards are sent out for 6 months but most policies are paid on installment plans.  If the payments were not paid the policy was cancelled.  

-In almost every state the insurance adjuster has to be licensed to handle claims.  This means we take classes and a test.  We also take continuing education courses.  Ethics is one of the required courses.  We are required by law to properly investigate and pay claims when liability exists.  We are not trying to "get out of paying claims".  

-We have to talk to our insured and the driver.  If they do not cooperate there is a possibility we can not complete the investigation. 

-The adjuster isn't a mind reader or a psychic.  We don't know when someone is going to call back and we don't know why someone let a person drive the car they were not suppose to. 

-Almost every state has what is known as excluded driver amendments.  This means if that excluded person is driving, the policy does not cover them.  Again, the adjuster does not know why they were excluded and has no idea why they were driving.  

-The fastest way to get your car repaired is usually to go through your own carrier under your collision coverage and pay your deductible.  Let your carrier's subro department handle getting back your deductible and the money they paid.  If you are not at fault, it should not effect your policy.  

-I have been doing this a long time so telling me you are going to get an attorney doesn't scare me.  I am not offering your attorney any more money and I am not able to find coverage for an attorney when coverage does not exist.  My response is always going to be "If that is what you feel you need to do, then have them send me a letter of representation."  Sometimes you need an attorney and I have recommended to friends that very route in bad accidents.  Fender benders are not bad accidents. 

-Be realistic. 
You car can probably be repaired and the important thing is that nobody was hurt. Is it an inconvenience, heck yes!  It sucks.  However calling your adjuster every day or several times a day to find out when someone is coming out to see your car is just taking time away from the other people who had claims before you who's damages can actually be paid. Plus, if we knew, we would have told you. 

-Things take time and by time I mean realistically an investigation takes anywhere from 10-30 days.  At 30 days if we still haven't been able to reach everyone we may have to deny the claim.  See why I said you may want to file through your collision coverage? 

-I am not avoiding you, I am on the phone.  If you get my voicemail it is because I am talking with someone else. Calling 6 times isn't going to change that.  I will call you back as soon as I am available.  

Finally, it is personal for you not me, so don't make it personal for me.  When you start attacking me personally, calling me names, you are not making the situation any better.  I am going to remain an adult but I am also not going to be abused for the sake of your anger so don't be surprised if I calmly say that I am disconnecting the call and asking you to call back when you have calmed down.  

Before you have an accident do these things for me please:

-Get an app for your phone that says you are driving and will text back when you aren't.  More accidents now happen because of texting than anything else combined.  It can wait.  

-Always assume the guy behind and beside you is an idiot.  I drive a big orange Ram and yet some ding batt almost sideswiped me this morning because he didn't see me in the lane right next to him. 

-If you missed your exit go to the next one don't change over 3 lanes to make it. 

-If you are in a left or right turn only lane and don't want to be, turn and go around.  It is safer. 

-You are the only one who knows you are making a U Turn so make sure you can do it safely from the inside lane not the outside. 

-Semi's make wide turns.  Expect it. 

-Slow the frick down. You will get there in one piece if you go 5 miles slower! 

-Assume the motorcycle rider is an idiot because so many are. 

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