In order to recover for a loss from an insurance company, you first have to report the loss. In the legal/insurance parlance, this is called reporting a claim. Insurance policies typically have a “duty of cooperation” clause. What this means is that when you report a loss to your insurance company, you must cooperate and provide them information regarding the loss. Keep in mind this discussion is related only to dealing with your insurance company, the one you pay to protect you. You do not owe a duty to cooperate to someone else’s insurance company though there are situations in which that might be beneficial to you. That’s a different subject from this blog post.
The duty of cooperation to your insurance company is there to aid the insurance company in determining if the loss is covered under the terms of the policy and the value of such loss. Most companies have a set period of time in which you, the insured, have to report the claim. This is so the insurance company has an opportunity to investigate the claim.
Related to this cooperation duty, your insurance company can ask to take your recorded statement. Most recorded statements are done by simply speaking to an adjuster during a phone call. It should be a simple, neutral, fact gathering call. However, always keep in mind the adjuster works for the insurance company. The company you are going to be looking for to make you whole for your loss by a payment of money; the same company who would prefer not to have to pay you at all or pay you as little as possible. The adjuster you are speaking to represents the company, not you.
What kind of questions will be asked in a recorded statement? A common sense approach would seem that they would be related to the loss you reported (what was the make/model of the cars in the accident, which vehicle ran the light, or what part of the house was damaged by the leak, etc.). And normally this is followed. There will also be general questions about your background. Rarely, but I have sometimes seen it happen, the adjuster in an attempt to intimidate will use these lines of questions to be more invasive than is needed for the claim.
Another tactic used by adjusters is to take advantage of an unprepared person. The statement might occur when you don’t have all the information. For example, with an auto accident claim a typical question will be whether you are injured. If you are calling shortly after the accident and still have your adrenaline pumping, you may not realize the damage your body has suffered. I have had countless clients who only several hours after the accident, when the adrenaline has worn off, begin to feel soreness or pain on a part of their body.
Sometimes the adjuster attempts to take advantage of an unsuspecting person. They could begin the recording by asking the seemingly polite question “How are you today?” When you respond with a routine “Fine” that will be used later on to damage the credibility of your claim that you were suffering from an injury that day.
If you are in a situation where you need to report an accident claim to an insurance company or an insurance company is asking to take a recorded statement, consider consulting an attorney who regularly handles accident and insurance claims in the St. Petersburg, Pinellas County area. This has been the focus of my 14 years practicing as an attorney. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 381-2300.