There are two situations where you can expect to be confronted with a requirement for a recorded statement.
In a third party claim, where you are seeking damages for injuries or damages you sustained as a result of another party’s negligence, that company now becomes responsible for your loss as a third party carrier. You are not required to cooperate with this insurance company because you have no contractual obligation to them. This, however, will not necessarily stop that insurance company from attempting to coerce you to submit to a statement.
The focus here is the first party insurance claim where you are seeking coverage from your own insurance company. In this situation, your insurance policy requires you to cooperate. If you fail to cooperate, you are at risk of an eventual claim denial. Therefore, you must provide the statement. Don’t think that by demanding a delay (unless you are legitimately obtaining a lawyer), or by demanding an in-person visit from an adjuster, that you are helping yourself. You have an obligation to cooperate.
Under the guise of customer service, the insurance company will contact you usually within 24 hours of your filing of your insurance claim. While you might be impressed by their prompt attention to your loss, consider how the timing can pose an inherent risk for you.
Inherent risk because within a day or two following your loss, are you fully in command of all of the facts? Is it reasonable that you may not know the full extent of your damage, or even the full extent of your injuries?
- For example, you might say in your recorded statement two days after an accident that you are not injured. Realistically the symptoms of a whiplash injury might not occur until after this. If you subsequently visit a doctor for those injuries, expect to have to defend your “conflicts” to the insurance company.
- Auto theft claims are frequently subject to further insurance investigation. You statement detailed that your car was stolen between 10 PM and 8 AM. But in subsequent investigation the investigator finds a neighbor who saw the car in your driveway at midnight. This information conflicts with your original statement. While you have made no attempt to misconstrue the facts, the “conflicts” in your statement might easily subject you to an unfair claim delay, or even a claim denial.
Recorded statement “inconsistencies” serve as fertile ground for insurance companies to reduce or deny claims. If you believe you have encountered an unfair claim delay, you need to attempt to identify the specific source of the delay.
- Maintain an ongoing, persistent, courteous dialogue with your adjuster.
Only through dialogue can you hope to discover the root cause for the delay. If the adjuster asks you to clarify points in your previous recorded statement, do so. Cooperate.
- Always take an active role in your claim.
If you can determine a cause for the delay, you might be able to work on your own to solve it. For example, in the auto theft claim, suppose the adjuster shared with you that the insurance company had “spoken” to your neighbors. Take action – speak to your neighbors! “Yes I spoke to my neighbor. He works the night shift. He returns home at midnight. His observations narrowed the time line by at least two hours. I called the police and informed them of this development. Here is the name of the detective I spoke with.”
While insurance companies clearly have a right to investigate all claims, the unfortunate reality is that they use the “under investigation” tactic to give them more time to keep your money and to wear you down. Too frequently, this “investigative phase” is unfairly based on a biased interpretation of the recorded statement.