So you have an insurance claim. Could be a car accident, could be roof damage, could be you slipped and fell on a banana peel outside your local zoo’s monkey cage (and you want to take that monkey for all he’s worth!).
You’ve set up a claim with XYZ Insurance Company, had an initial conversation with a nice-sounding adjuster when they ask, “can I take your recorded statement?”
RECORD SCRATCH SOUND.
This topic came to my mind today after I read a LinkedIn posting from a Georgia defense attorney linking to an article in “Claims Journal” magazine titled “The Recorded Statement and the Art of Storytelling.” Sounds riveting, I know. If you want to read the whole thing, go here:
The article’s focus is on what insurance companies try to do with recorded statements. These two sentences, taken from the article, sum it up:
“When a statement is obtained early in a claim, you can capitalize on the fact the claimant is less likely to be tainted by outside influences such as secondary gain or adverse counsel. Therefore, in this small window of time, you have an opportunity to develop legal defenses by locking down his position on the potential issues for litigation, including the date, time, and place of the accident as well as any witnesses and the specific body parts involved.”
Insurance companies are not your friend when it comes to claims. I know it because I was a claims attorney for a nationwide insurance carrier. And you know it because of those two sentences.
Sentence One: “The claimant is less likely to be tainted by outside influences such as secondary gain or adverse counsel.”
Translation: Get to this person before they hire or consult an attorney because, once they find one, they’ll be educated about the claims process and know what they’re entitled to. Also interesting in that sentence is the mention of “Secondary Gain.” Secondary gain is the idea that you, the injured person, are going to mislead the insurance company and exaggerate your issues/symptoms/damages for monetary gain. Again, the assumption from this article is that everyone is trying to get something they are not entitled to. The insurance company wants to lock you into a story to prevent and discourage you from telling your true story later.
Sentence Two: “…You have an opportunity to develop legal defenses…”
Translation: Let’s use this as a way to poke holes in the injured/damaged person’s story. Plain and simple. The insurance carrier is trying to develop and lock in their defense of the case before you can even tell your full story. It’s a trap.
WHAT SHOULD I DO?
Well, you have a choice to make. You could still give a statement, but have the statement be taken under YOUR rules. Recorded statements aren’t like depositions or other court proceedings where state rules of procedure (types of questions, relevancy, etc.) govern. So you could set your own terms. A lawyer can help you with a statement and flat-out tell the adjuster what you will and will not answer. Having an attorney act as a gatekeeper of proper information can make a big difference.
Sometimes though, the insurance company wants to play hardball. If the insurance carrier is going to deny your claim if you don’t give a statement or if you insist on your own rules, they’re probably going to deny your claim regardless. You might need to file a lawsuit.
Long, in short, talk to someone before you give a recorded statement. Maybe there’s a good reason to give a statement in your case. Maybe there’s not. There is no bright-line rule. But a consultation with someone who has seen the situation many times before will help you decide what to do. Feel free to call or email me. 636-530-1515.