Every insurance carrier handles claims differently. When reporting a claim for the first time, the person taking the claim is typically not going to be your claims adjuster. This person is typically not trained to answer most claims related questions. They are on what insurance carriers call the “First Notice of Loss” department. FNOL employees are typically entry-level newer employees. Their job is to obtain information, assign the claim to the right department, and start the process.
Do not provide the FNOL employee each and every detailed fact of loss because they will not include each and every detailed fact of loss. They will summarize what you stated and it may not reflect what you want. They are monitored on how many calls they can complete a day. So the more they include, the slower the calls go. More importantly, the claims adjuster will want this detailed statement and likely want to record it. So, you don’t want to have to repeat yourself.
Some major insurance carriers (Allstate, State Farm, and GEICO) handle non-injury auto accidents and certain types of comprehensive claims in a team environment. Meaning, you call an 800-number to speak to a claims adjuster and you will speak with a different person each time. There are pros and cons to this business model.
Pros: They are usually open 24/7 and someone will be able to answer your call within a few minutes. And if the hold time is more than five minutes, they will set up a call back so you don’t have to wait.
Cons: You will need to repeat yourself, a lot. The claims adjuster answering your call is looking at your claim for the first time, ever. The best thing to do is to be patient and let the adjuster review the claim.
On team environments, you do not want to say “I’ve already provided that information”. You probably have but they will still want it again. Another Con, you may get conflicting information in a team environment. You don’t want to call anyone a liar so the best course of action would be speaking to a supervisor.
If you have your own assigned claims adjuster, always try to speak with this person first. If they don’t return your calls, speak to a supervisor. If you press 0 to speak with a co-worker, all the “Cons” listed in the team environment apply. You want to build rapport with your adjuster because you want them to be on your side. You don’t want to bad mouth them or the company because that isn’t going to help the situation.
If you are involved in a disputed accident, you do not want to change your story. Meaning, when you reported the claim to FNOL to when the adjuster calls you a day or two later. The facts need to match. If the details are very different, they will likely question your statement and place you at fault. Also, do not call back the next day to add more details or circumstantial information. On a disputed claim, the adjuster will likely take a recorded statement. This is when you want to be as clear and precise as possible. It’s a good idea to write notes and set up a good time with the adjuster so you can make sure you’re ready. Think of the recorded statement like a phone job interview. You want to be in a quiet private location so you think properly and give a good detailed impression.
If you are meeting a field adjuster, do not embellish facts. Field adjusters are typically very experienced adjusters and are trained to look for fraud indicators. This could be via body language, vocal tone, and word usage. Simply put, field adjusters are trained to look and see what makes sense and what seems out of the norm. Injury field adjusters and auto estimators meet with people numerous times a day. They are trained to be seen as a walking checkbook, if you try to take advantage of them, they’ll notice.