Insurance claims adjusters rely on a slew of tricks and techniques to get claimants to settle as quickly as possible, for as little as possible. The statement above is a ploy designed to back you into a corner and limit your recovery.
The adjuster will contact you and ask if you would consent to giving a statement. Often, the adjuster will ask permission to record your statement over the phone. When you give a recorded statement, he will draft a summary of your statement to be included with your file, or he may have your statement transcribed verbatim. With a written statement, the adjuster will ask you questions and write down your answers in the first person. You will be asked to read the statement, revise it as necessary, and sign each page. On the last page, you will attest to the truth of your statement and then sign your name.
What Is the Danger in Making a Statement?
The adjuster’s job is to investigate your claim and determine whether to pay the claim, deny the claim or negotiate a settlement. However, the adjuster is not a neutral party. His job is to investigate your claim with an eye toward making the best deal for the insurance company.
The adjuster will use your statement to assess liability (fault) and damages (injuries, out-of-pocket losses) and to estimate the cost of your claim to the insurance company. Everything you say will be interpreted in the light most favorable to the insurer. The insurance company will use your statement to set a limit (the “reserves”) on your claim. Once this ceiling is in place, it can be a long and difficult process to raise it. More importantly, however, once your statement is signed or recorded, you cannot change it without undermining your credibility. Your credibility is your most valuable asset. When you lose it, you jeopardize your entire case.