Confessions of an Auto Claims Adjuster
Edmunds.com Member, Administrator, Moderator Posts: 10,315
edited September 2014 in General
Confessions of an Auto Claims Adjuster
Find out the secrets to getting more insurance money from the Auto Claims Adjuster after your car is totaled or stolen.
Stay away from Progressive Auto Insurance. When I called to speak with a representative and specifically asked her NOT to process my payment with my Visa card information on file, she went ahead and did it anyway. She did not tell me she was processing the payment, she did not give me any sort of authorization number and I specifically said i wanted to make the payment online myself so that I could print out proof of my payment. These people are reckless and irresponsible with their customer's private information and when I called in to address the issue, they showed no remorse. I've canceled my auto insurance with progressive due to the mishandling of the VISA card information which they were not supposed to keep on file - but did anyway. These guys just do whatever they want and help themselves to money out of your bank account. Their customer service reps have an abrasive and arrogant attitude. I shopped around and got a better deal at All State who treated me with the high level of customer service and professionalism that I used to get at Progressive but it now appears they don't care about their customers or privacy of information. They also had the nerve to charge me a $50 cancellation fee after having messed me around so badly... Stay away.
First, Claims 101: The first and most important lesson an adjuster learns in training is "we pay what we owe". The insurance company owes what it costs for a shop to fix your car, and choosing your own shop, which is something any legitimate adjuster is required to tell you, does not obligate them to pay that shop's price. Specialty shops like the author describes will typically pad the estimate with higher labor rates and unnecessary repairs.
Second, claims adjusters almost never have direct contact with the so-called preferred shops. Their contracts are negotiated by management, and are usually guaranteed for as long as the person owns the car.
Third, 50% is much too low a threshold for a total loss. Typically a company will total a car if repairs are 70-80% of the car's value. Also if you think merely suggesting that there MIGHT be hidden damage will convince an adjuster to total your car, think again. The damage described by the author is something any reputable shop would have on the original estimate.
Fourth, any reputable company will have their own appraiser look at the car and write their own estimate which will be compared with the shop estimate and an agreed price reached with the shop. Also, most companies today use total loss evaluation services, and that evaluation is basesd on a physical inspection of the vehicle. These will include comparable local vehicles, usually as many as 15-20. No one has a right to pick the vehicles to be used as comparables. This is true both for insured individuals (it's written into the policy) and claimants. I have rarely seen the appraisal clause invoked, and very few of those cases were decided in favor of the vehicle owner.
Finally, going back to the beginning., the adjuster will pay what the company owes. Tactics that the author attributes to the insurance company don't happen if you are dealing with an honest adjuster, which is about 99% of us. These things are counter productive, since they require more time than they save. As for the suggestions made by the author of asking for an extra $500, suggesting there might be hidden damage in an attempt to persuade an adjuster to total the car or asking for only a partial list of comparable vehicles to be used are dishonest and could possibly be insurance fraud. That extra $500, multiplied by just 1 driver a month in each state, amounts to $300,000 a year. That means extra premiums for everyone!
Adjusters also get audited on their file handling, and I can personally guarantee that an adjuster who let these tactics go on would soon be unemployed. Dealing fairly with people is only in the adjuster's best interests. Taking the extra time to "lowball" a customer actuall hurts their performance; giving in to the tactics suggested by the author hurts their performance as well. The best rule to follow for the adjuster and claimant is to pay (or accept) what is fair - nothing less and nothing more.
Now who has the upper hand? I've never "Made out great" on how much I've paid for insurance up until I actually file a claim and how much money I get back. I've never had any personal injury's to cover for myself or anyone else. In fact, I live in a no-fault accident state where there is an association that handles personal liability and coverage. This, "No-Fault" accident scheme costs over 100 dollars in fees per 6 months, as well as a premium increase of usually 100 dollars per 6 months as well. Now, how often is there a 300k+ dmg for personal injury's for 3+ people? Not often, and I also have to pay to protect uninsured drivers due to this. It is increasingly difficult to justify negligent driving by offering compensation for higher premiums instead of allowing the victim to settle in court if they wish. So yes, if I am injured or injure an uninsured driver and I do not have appropriate coverage, I am looking at a large settlement often involving drowning that driver in a financial burden they can never pay off.
If I wanted to switch insurance providers where I live, the insurance company would lose more than 1.5k in less than 2 years with these associated fees unless I totaled another vehicle; which then I would be a high risk driver without any sort of compensation to choose from, even with a deductible for under 2 grand a year per vehicle..and do you think I'd be driving a BMW in my 2nd or 3rd accident? If you are just following this, you get the gist without any technical details that your insurance company can afford to keep you, and the insurance adjustment agency worker for insurance companies can afford to pay extra for a damaged vehicle. Nobody wants to make a claim, but when they do they want that claim to represent their pocket expense in full and to see fit in timely manner.
I've got about 9 years auto adjusting experience as well as another 9 years or so of investigation experience so I too have handled a lot of total loss negotiations.
I have a couple of comments;
Some states (PA for one but probably many others) regulate how insurers have to evaluate total losses. Some say when a car is a total (usually around 70-75% of value to repair) and all of them now require very stringent rules on how the title is branded as a salvage vehicle which means the old days of owner retaining a car with a simple signature on a form are gone thanks in part to the National Motor Vehicle Title System and NHTSA/DOTs involvement in making sure all titles are branded in a uniform way.
Anyway I digress;
Your adjustor will follow the rules of the state you live in first then their own internal guidelines. A General Adjustor or experienced Senior Adjustor will have leeway and negotiating authority that a more junior adjustor won't. Some adjustors are perennially in bad moods (it's a lousy job frankly) and some are always happy but all of them will respond to being treated professionally and fairly so do what your mom taught you; BE NICE. If you're nice they'll be nice back. If you're awful to deal with they'll avoid dealing with you and will make no effort to help you (read pay you more).
It's OK to be sure they get the correct information to evaluate your car by going over the options and condition in detail. This is really important if the car is stolen or totally burned and can't be inspected for options and condition.
If you try the ol' "all my repair and parts receipts were in the glovebox when it was stolen" route forget getting the benefit of the doubt. Adjustors aren't going to cut you a break just because you were stupid (or worse if they catch you lying). And they won't (and can't) pay you for stuff that every car needs like routine maintenance (I just changed my oil!).
It's been my experience, especially now in the era of the internet that no one pays more for used cars then insurance companies. No one. Period.
Try selling a 20 year old Ford Escort with a slipping transmission on the internet for $2500. Think anyone will pay that? Think anyone will pay more than $500? Your insurance company will. They are in the business of paying claims expeditiously and without ruffling feathers of their agents, customers and especially state regulators. So yeah, they'll pay you $2,500 and you should thank them and move on.
In my experience insurance settlements usually exceed and often FAR exceed what you'd ever get paid in an open market sale.
Nuff said. Go forther and prosper.
If they don't want to take ownership, I will gladly take it and sell it for whatever I can get out of it.
Called to find out why adjuster showed up at tow yard, State Farm told me, yet another mistake was made n someone else made an error again stating someone checked the box stating possible loss which automatically sends an adjuster out n State Farm apologized for this error. Explained this was the 3rd error on their part, first being how it was reported incorrectly, which some one took care of re-asking original questions about accident n said car is considered repairable n NOT a possible loss. Then arranged for the tow. Then someone else was in file n checked box for "possible loss which triggered adjuster out there even though the tow was already set up an all the notes were in the system with how the first error was made n was deemed as REPAIRABLE. So spoke with with supervisor, was told to ignore all of that cux Spoke with another agent she was giving me all figures as my car being Totalled n I explained all issues mentioned above, all errors which caused this mess said, I'm sorry, they are going by what adjuster said n your car is totalled n that is final but never gave me amount what my car is even valued at yet so don't know how they know it's totalled?? But still fighting that anyway.
I have all of the agents I spoke with, all of notes n actual recordings of the calls as they are legal in my state. The supervisor, said I was to IGNORE the agent who stated my car was considered Totalled as that was again another error by State Farm. He said it is NOT TOTALLED, amount given was an estimate and that my car was NOT TOTALLED, but REPAIRABLE and apologized for this whole mess but said main thing is that my car is NOT TOTALLED and that they needed get to the repair shop n then get the estimate from the repair shop with adjuster since I disagreed amount of adjuster, I have right to dispute that and have the mechanic and adjuster relook at things as things could be missed, some things could've been included in original estimate by adjuster that aren't even wrong, such as them saying the suspension for one, when the mechanic already said there is no suspension damage since n it has gotten towed there, he said the car isn't even that bad n cannot figure out at how they are even coming up with that number at all. They say it's completely repairable and not even close to that amount and refuse to explain it to me.
When I called State Farm yet again, they refuse to send an adjuster to the repair shop since they already went to the tow yard and did the estimate which was wrong because of someone checking a wrong box, was supposed to be done at the shop, PERIOD, which was how process is supposed to work every agent I have spoken to has told me same thing, n I if I feel there is a discrepancy in estimate, n have a mechanic who also has discrepancy, according to my rights, I am entitled to have them come out n have this looked at since I am disputing the amount, especially based on the amount of the estimate, and in Good Faith, according the law I am entitled to a prompt, fair, claim where where the determination is unclear and if disagree for them to come out and do a re-evaluation, every time I call, the information changes, State Farm has already admitted to making mistakes filing it wrong to begin with.Every time I call State Farm I get different information. Luckily I have the calls recorded, as in the state of Colorado, it's legal to do so. I was just recently assigned a new claims adjuster, who is VERY nasty who refuses to even speak to me. She just says I have reviewed all of the notes. She will not let me speak or go over all of the details. Says again, I see who you've spoken to and have the notes. I tried to tell her that notes do not always contain all of the information, especially details, and I'd like to go through the details with her. She refused to listen to me at all. She was also very nasty to repair shop. She will not allow an adjuster to go there and do what I believe I am entitled so especially since I have a huge discrepancy and I do, I'm entitled by the law, to have substantial justification and a fair assessment and re-evaluation where there is a discrepancy involved.
First request was denied to have evaluation done but asked for another manager. I'm finding more and more information regarding my rights. If she denies, I'm going to her manager.I just know they are doing me wrong. Have ready many reviews and seen some lawsuits where Start Farm has done this in the past and am gathering as much information as possible. I am have contacted the Colorado Department of Regulatory Affairs Division of Insurance who stated I definitely need to file a claim so it can be investigated and they can get involved as she says to much time as gone by and they need to help me get someone out there. Next is the State Insurance Commission for Colorado.
Can anyone help me out here? Give me some additional direction on how I can invoke my rights on getting an adjuster to do what they are supposed to if I do not agree with their assessment,the mechanic disagrees as well?? I am looking into possibly involving the media if need be. I have no idea what to do. I need help. I'm desperate!
I was hit by driver. We both have progressive insurance. I made the claim through her since she hit me. Ahhh but she lied and said it was the other way around…until I got the video… the adjuster never follows up anyway and even with the proof I am ignored. I’ve always had good service with them until now. Is there an issue since I claimed it under the other driver? They originally had 2 claim numbers but consolidated them. Thank you sooo much.
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