Mar 11, 2015

People hire attorneys after car crashes for a variety of reasons. Mainly, people hire attorneys to avoid unpleasant encounters with insurance adjusters. Nothing drives clients to my office like a nasty insurance adjuster. But, in truth, not all insurance adjusters are nasty. In fact, some adjusters are exceptional. But, others are, in fact, needlessly vengeful, needlessly paranoid, and even lazy.

Some cases can only be resolved by jury trials due to extreme disagreements over injury causation, the amount of damages, or liability disputes. However, the vast majority of cases do not require jury trials. Statistically, most personal injury cases settle before a trial or even a lawsuit is necessary. In those great many circumstances, the adjuster is the face of the insurance company. Consequently, understanding adjusters and their motivations gives me a greater ability to deal with them in resolving personal injury claim.

Like a performer in a play, the actor cannot truly understand his role unless he understands his character's motivation. The same is true with understanding claim adjusters and their motivations.

Most people know little about the job of being an insurance adjuster until they come across the need to deal with an insurance company. In all honesty, I have never worked for an insurance company, but I have spent thousands of hours on the phone talking to various adjusters. To me, it seems like a good deal of why adjusters are the way they are is due to the companies they work for and the corporate culture that exists. So, if you are looking to take offense at the broad generalities I make in this article, you should have lots to criticize. However, I have always found that the use of generalities can often bring understanding.

Normally, adjusters are educated people who have earned some sort of bachelor's degree. Except for a few overachievers, their educational backgrounds do not really have any sort of application to the work they are performing as insurance adjusters. Consequently, sociologists, art majors, and business administration graduates end up evaluating injury claims. It is rare to find an adjuster with much first responder or medical training.

Adjusters are like middle management. They often work in large cubicle office surroundings. They might have assistants they supervise, but generally, adjusters are the workhorses who report to supervisors. On average, insurance adjusters earn from $30,000-$60,000 per year. Generally, these people work live, not live to work. Adjusters who handle injury claims have worked in the insurance industry for a few years. They usually start out working on property damage claims and later graduate to injury claims.

Under the laws of every state, adjusters are granted a special exception to negotiate settlements without a law license even thought that is considered an element of practicing law. Only lawyers are permitted to negotiate and settle personal injury cases, unless the injured person is negotiating his or her own case.

Adjusters spend their days updating their claim files. They document the calls they make to lawyers seeking medical status updates, document and notate communications with their supervisors, adjust claim reserves, read medical records, review medical bills, negotiate settlements, and settle cases.

Adjusters often oversee 200 or more claim files at a time. Adjusters are considered successful by their supervisors in terms of how they close claim files. A productive adjuster gets cases settled. In terms of whether adjusters get added bonuses or accolades for settling a case for less than the reserve set aside for that particular case, my suspicion is that they probably do. However, that sort of data is usually protected by insurance companies and it is hard to know for sure.

Unlike other professions, the nature of adjuster work rarely involves being reactive instead of proactive. When my firm needs medical records and some hospital is delaying the production of those records, I simply subpoena those records. If a witness to a car or truck crash won't call me back, I have been known to personally go to their work. In our business, we make the mountain come to us. In comparison, adjuster work is largely office work and it rarely lends itself to self-motivated doers.

For the most part, adjusters deal with varying levels of opposition. Sometimes, they deal with very lazy, incompetent, and unorganized attorneys and paralegals. They deal with opposition that intentionally conceals relevant medical records. Often, adjusters have stacks of what they call "incompetence files" piled in their work areas. These are files where they are waiting for lawyers to send them missing medical records, bills, or wage loss records.

The dilemma in an adjuster's life is that they receive accolades for closing files, but they get reprimanded when they do sloppy claim evaluations. Supervisors view claim evaluations as sloppy when they look through the files and notice that documentation is missing. Consequently, all day, adjusters deal with files that are incomplete and not ready for evaluation. We understand this issue and we try to be a breath of fresh air for the adjuster.

When we submit a case for evaluation, we want the adjusters to think of us as their White Knights. We hope that by reputation and prior experience with our firm, the adjuster knows that when they get a demand packet from our office, it is a clean and complete record. The adjuster can breathe a sigh of relief because he knows that our demand packet can be read from front to back like a book and that they can complete their evaluation in one sitting with no incompleteness requiring them to move the demand packet to the abyss of the other incomplete demand packets.

While no one considers us pushovers during negotiations, the adjuster expects that we know our cases and that we can defend our positions in a logical and yet respectful way. The adjuster understands that we are always the most knowledgeable participant on the phone call about our client. This approach earns us respect among adjusters, and with respect comes good settlement offers for our clients and the proper resolution of claims.

At Anderson Hemmat, we understand that it is not always pleasant to deal with insurance adjusters. This is precisely why many of our clients hire us to handle their personal injury claims. However, while we stand firm against insurance companies and adjusters for the benefit of our clients, we do our best to understand and work with adjusters to resolve cases in a positive manner. If you have been injured in a car accident and you are concerned about the way the insurance adjuster is handling your injury claim, please call 303-782-9999 and speak with one of our attorneys or start your free injury case evaluation today.


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