If you've been in a car accident, one of the first things you'll do is contact the at-fault driver's insurance company. Since the person who caused the wreck is also responsible for paying for any damages and injuries, you'll need to figure out who caused the wreck (You? The other driver? A third party?) and then start a claim using their insurance.
(If you aren't sure who's at-fault, you should start by reading my article: How to Determine Fault After an Accident).
Once you start your claim, a single insurance adjuster will be assigned to your case. They'll be your contact person during the claims process and you'll rely on them to move your claim forward. But what if they stop calling you back?
Unreturned Calls Is a Common Problem
You might be surprised to learn that you aren't the only one who has this problem and it's not just your adjuster. I get a lot of calls at my firm from frustrated accident victims who want to know why the insurance adjuster isn't calling them back and what they can do about it. It's a fairly common issue.
Unfortunately, there's a good chance your adjuster is avoiding your calls on purpose. It's a tactic some adjusters use to try and decrease the value of your claim.
Why Your Adjuster Isn't Returning Your Calls
Insurance companies want to make money. Of course they do. And while there's nothing wrong with profits, the problem is that in order for an insurance company to be profitable, they have to pay out less in claims than they take in.
Sadly, this creates some backwards incentives. When you make a claim, insurance adjusters start looking for ways to devalue or deny it because the less they pay you, the more they get to keep.
One way they do this is by dragging out the claims process. If you've been in a bad wreck, you likely need money to pay for your car damage and medical bills. Are you watching your bills pile up? Do you feel desperate for that check from the settlement? Are you wondering how you're going to pay for a rental car in the meantime? Have you avoided seeing a doctor because you can't afford it?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you're exactly the kind of person who's targeted with this delay tactic. The adjuster knows that the longer they take, the more pressure you'll feel, and the more pressure you feel, the more likely you are to accept whatever offer they finally give you - even if it's really low.
Two More Reasons the Adjuster Won't Call You Back
In addition to the reason above, there are two more reasons worth mentioning. First, the insurance company isn't calling you back because they don't have to. They have no timeline and they technically don't have to pay you anything (unless forced to by a jury).
Last, the insurance company knows that the longer it holds onto its money, the more it can make in interest.
What to Do When the Adjuster Doesn't Call You Back
First, you can use your own insurance.
A lot of people are upset to hear this advice because they don't think they should have to use their own insurance or pay their own deductibles, especially if someone ELSE was at fault for the accident. I certainly understand these frustrations. However, using your own insurance (and getting paid back later when your claim settles), will take some of the pressure off of you and make you "immune" to the adjuster's tactics.
You can read more about the thought process behind this in my two articles here:
- Why Should I Use My Own Health Insurance If the Wreck Wasn't My Fault?
- Why Should I Use My Own Car Insurance If the Wreck Wasn't My Fault?
Your second option is to contact a lawyer.
Personal injury lawyers don't cost any money upfront and they can provide much needed help when the insurance adjuster won't give you a break. I've found that sometimes simply having a lawyer will dissuade the adjuster from stalling your case - adjusters know they can't pull that kind of thing when there's a lawyer on your side.