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Do I Have to Give a Statement to the Other Driver’s Insurance Company in Bloomington?
Overview of the Insurance Claims Process in Illinois
An insurance claim will generally follow the following process:
Filing a Claim
After an accident, you can file a first-party claim with your insurer or a third-party claim with another driver’s insurance company, depending on who was at fault and your policy. File the claim as soon as possible and provide the required information, including the basic details, insurance information of the other driver, and the police report number.
Investigation by the Claims Adjuster
After filing a claim, the assigned claims adjuster will contact you for additional information. He or she will investigate the claim, assess the extent of damages, compile a report on the accident's cause and fault, verify insurance coverage, and negotiate a settlement.
After the claims adjuster submits the report, you'll receive an offer. You can either accept or negotiate for a better offer. Keep evidence to support your claim such as medical records, invoices, receipts and other documentation to strengthen your negotiating position.
If you and the claims adjuster reach an agreement, he or she will authorize payment. After signing a release, you will receive your payment.
The Role of Statements in the Claims Process
After an accident, insurance adjusters often request a recorded statement to gather important information. This statement is a video or audio interview that covers details about the accident. During the interview, you may be asked about the events that led up to the crash, what you saw, and what you did. They may also request information about any damages or injuries you sustained.
The purpose of the recorded statement is to determine fault and the amount of compensation that should be paid. Everything that is said during the interview will be transcribed and included in your claim file.
Giving a Statement to Your Own Insurance Company vs. the Other Driver’s Insurance Company
In case of an accident, your insurance company will cover you for a first-party claim, regardless of who is at fault. However, if the other driver is at fault, his or her insurance company will cover you for a third-party claim. Therefore, the other driver’s insurance company will try to find things in your statement to attribute fault to you or someone other than their client.
You are obligated to give a statement to your own insurance company, but you are not required to provide any statement to the other driver’s insurance company. The other company will not be looking to act in your best interests.
If you decide to give a statement to the other driver’s insurance company, you should consult with a personal injury lawyer first. This will ensure that your statement is accurate and consistent and does not contain anything that can negatively impact your claim.
The Legal Requirements in Illinois
Illinois’ “Duty to Cooperate” Law
Insurance policies typically include a clause that requires the policyholder to cooperate with the insurer's efforts to investigate claims that are covered. In the initial stages of a claim, the policyholder's cooperation is essential because he or she is often the best and only source of information until the insurer can conduct an independent investigation.
Is a Statement Mandatory or Optional in Illinois?
In Illinois, if your insurance contract includes a duty to cooperate provision, you are only obligated to speak with a representative of your own insurance company. There is no legal obligation to give a statement to the other insurance company. They may use your statement to devalue or reject your claim.
If you do not want to speak with another insurance company's representative, you have a few options. You can refuse to talk to them, ask them to call your insurance company's adjuster, or tell them that you will only speak to them in the presence of your lawyer.
Understanding Your Rights
Insurance policies are contractual agreements, and legal regulations apply. Knowing how the insurer should handle your claim, your rights, and the policies' benefits will help you advocate for yourself and collect your compensation.
The insurer and its employees must be just, reasonable, and compliant with state regulations. They are obligated to conduct a timely, thorough, and unbiased investigation of your losses and claims. They must work with you to adjust your claim and pay what they owe fairly, promptly, and in full compliance with the policy and relevant laws.
Pros and Cons of Giving a Statement
If you are confident that you can give an accurate and truthful account of what happened during the accident, then providing a statement can help speed up the claims process. In such cases, providing a recorded statement can be beneficial as it can provide the insurance company with the necessary information to process your claim quickly and efficiently. It allows you to provide evidence directly to substantiate your claim.
However, providing a recorded statement can be risky, as anything in your statement can be used against you. Some risks associated with providing a recorded statement include:
Inconsistencies with other evidence can harm your chances of receiving compensation for your injuries if you accidentally say something that is not true. Insurance adjusters may ask questions that are misleading or confusing, so it is essential to be cautious when answering them.
Admissions Against Interest
During a recorded statement, you may unintentionally admit fault or liability, which can reduce or eliminate the compensation you receive for your injuries.
Insurance adjusters may misinterpret or misconstrue what you say during a recorded statement, which can result in the insurance company denying your claim or reducing the amount of compensation you receive.
Recorded statements are usually conducted shortly after the accident, when you may still be in shock or have limited information about what happened. Consequently, you may give incomplete or inaccurate information, which can harm your case.
Practical Tips for Dealing With Insurance Companies
If you are required by your insurance company to give a statement, it's important to know when to hire a personal injury lawyer in Bloomington, as well as other tips to follow.
Contact a Lawyer
You should contact a lawyer as soon as possible. Your lawyer can represent your best interests and help you prepare for insurance adjuster questions. A legal representative will also know how much to ask for in a personal injury settlement.
Give Concise Answers
When answering a question, be concise and stick to the topic without providing extra details. Only explain if asked to do so. Even then, keep it brief and to the point. Don't offer any information that hasn't been asked for, even if you think it will help your situation. Leave anything that is left unsaid to your lawyer to handle.
Never Admit Fault
Admitting to fault can negatively impact your claim, or cause you to lose it entirely.
Don't Downplay Your Injuries
It can take several days for an injury to become apparent after an accident. Informing your insurance agent that you're not experiencing any injuries, may have a negative impact on your potential compensation for your injuries.
If You're Unsure, Refuse to Answer
When asked a question, it's better to firmly state “I don't know” instead of giving an ambiguous reply like “maybe” or “I guess so.”
Avoid Discussing Your Injuries or Your Medical Prognosis
Both situations are ongoing and may change over time. To ensure that everything is handled properly, it's best to have your lawyer take care of it for you. Don't sign any documents from the insurance company without first consulting your lawyer, such as medical records release forms.
Don't Let the Insurance Agent Rush You into a Settlement
Since you might need the money for repairs or medical expenses, it may be tempting to accept an early settlement. Don’t let them pressure you into accepting a settlement that is too low,
Don't Assume That Your Insurance Agent Is on Your Side
When considering whether to give a statement to the other driver’s insurance company, remember that insurance companies often try to minimize claim payouts. There may be situations where your own insurance company doesn't prioritize your best interests. For instance, when the at-fault driver in a car accident has no insurance coverage, your insurer may have to pay the claim on their behalf. In such cases, your insurance company may not be aligned with your best interests.