Whether this is your first motor vehicle accident or you’ve handled a few personal injury claims in the past, chances are, at some point you have dealt with a claims adjuster who seemed to be constantly MIA. From not returning your calls to always being “out of the office” or “unavailable,” waiting for an adjuster when your personal finances and well-being are on the line can be incredibly frustrating. Waiting a week or more longer than planned could mean the difference in being able to pay your rent or not, especially if your injuries resulted in missed time from work. The bottom line is that the adjusters aren’t working for you, so how can you ensure they are responding to you in a timely manner?
When we are talking about an unresponsive adjuster, we aren’t talking about one who just talked to you yesterday and hasn’t yet gotten back with you. It’s important to remember that personal injury claims do take time, and to be handled and evaluated properly, you want your claims adjuster to review your case thoroughly. Not only do they need to complete an investigation regarding the liability of the case, they also have to properly evaluate and review your entire demand package.
For one, medical records can be quite extensive and cumbersome to sort through. For instance, it is not uncommon for your medical records to be 500 or more pages if you were severely injured and had detailed procedures such as imaging and surgery. Trying to rush the adjuster could cause them to overlook a significant diagnosis in your records, such as a permanent partial disability rating or future surgery scheduling. This type of oversight could result in a significantly lower offer, as the adjuster is likely to undervalue your claim. Therefore, once you have sent a demand package to the adjuster, it isn’t uncommon for the review of your demand to take anywhere from a few weeks to a couple of months depending on the case facts, the severity of your injuries and the adjuster’s workload.
Adjusters are human. It’s understandable that you may become frustrated when you find out that they are on vacation for a week, but everyone needs time away from their jobs. You may also become agitated if they have miscalculated your total expenses or have overlooked a key item in your records. Human beings make mistakes, so before you become defensive and accusatory, it is best to take an understanding approach and to politely explain how and where they have made an error. By politely correcting the mistake, most adjusters will apologize and simply ask for a few more days to review the demand and make corrections.
Therefore, it is important to be polite and professional whenever you talk to your adjuster. As the old saying goes, “A smile goes a long way.” Always be logical and rational in your discussion. Getting angry or yelling is not going to make them pity you in the slightest. In fact, this type of behavior typically damages the relationship. An adjuster’s job may be to pay you as little as possible to settle the claim, but with this being said, you can generally make the process run much more smoothly by being polite. An adjuster generally has some wiggle room as to how much they can resolve a claim; therefore, being polite and professional can directly correlate to a higher settlement and faster resolution of your claim.
The story is all too common. You’ve received an acknowledgement letter from the insurance company providing the adjuster’s contact details. You even get a call or two from the adjuster who is checking in for treatment status and injury information. You finish your treatment, compile your documents, put the demand in the mail and wait. And wait. And then wait some more. It’s been well over a month and you haven’t heard a response. What do you do? Why do adjusters go missing?
Over the years, we have found that there are many different reasons an adjuster may seem to be ignoring a claim. More often than one would think, claims are often being reassigned to new adjusters (causing you to have out-of-date contact information). Adjusters may also leave the company (and the claim has somehow been conveniently overlooked during reassignment). Whatever the reason may be for the delay, an insurance company should make adequate attempts to inform you of any changes, but it doesn’t always happen. Thus, listed below are six helpful tips to dealing with unresponsive adjusters.
Follow up. Leave a friendly voicemail reminding the adjuster that you sent the demand over a month ago and you have not heard any response. Sometimes a simple reminder can result in action.
Send a follow-up letter via mail or fax. Sometimes mail filed into your claim can prompt an adjuster (or even someone else at the insurance company) to see that no contact has been made or that an offer is still pending.
If you have called two or three times and have also sent mail, try calling the general claims department phone number. This will connect you to a live person who can access your claim and either assist you or at least contact the adjuster internally. This is usually the stage that you may be informed your adjuster has actually been reassigned or has left the company. When you call the general claims phone number, the claims representative who answers the phone will have access to the contact information of anyone assigned to your claim within the insurance company.
If all else has failed, it is time to contact the adjuster’s supervisor. This information may be available on your adjuster’s letterhead or voicemail, but you will most likely need to call the general claims phone number and ask for the contact information for the supervisor for your adjuster. Contacting a supervisor can help ensure that your claim is reviewed and moved forward.
Contact an attorney. If you have tried all of these methods and you simply cannot get a response and it’s been several months since you have spoken to anyone, it may be time to contact an attorney. When an attorney is hired, the adjuster is often reassigned, and your attorney will take over the process for you.
If you do not want to hire an attorney, you may want to consider contacting the Department of Insurance to file a complaint. North Carolina’s Department of Insurance website provides information about how to file a complaint as well as the contact information for a toll-free line for consumers who are having an issue with an insurance company.