Recorded insurance statements
When you’ve been in a car accident that wasn’t your fault, it’s completely understandable that you may want the insurance claim process to go as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, it’s often not that simple. It’s very likely that the insurance company of the at-fault driver will get in touch with you and ask for a recorded insurance statement in order to get the full story of the situation.
While this may seem harmless and completely reasonable, this is where many victims of car accidents get tripped up. When the at-fault driver’s insurance company contacts you for your side of the story, you might be informed that the conversation will be recorded. This is the first red flag.
What’s wrong with a recorded statement?
When you’re dealing with insurance claims, you need to realize that insurance companies are a business. While some are better than others, they are all looking out for themselves – however much money they pay out to claims is money that they lose as a business.
That being said, insurance companies will look for and find ways to minimize how much they are required to pay out. One way to accomplish this is to contact you, someone involved in a car accident caused by one of their insureds, and to get you to provide an insurance statement that they can use to lessen the fault of their insured.
For example, one of the most common causes of car accidents is distracted driving. Almost anything can be considered distracted driving. Therefore, if you happen to be going through an emotionally difficult time and mention it in your insurance statement (“I just want this all to be over with. I’m already having a hard time dealing with my divorce and how it effects my kids”), they might use that information to claim that you were distracted, and that it wasn’t only the fault of their insured.
Another thing an insurance company may do is to asking leading questions. The purpose of these questions is to push you to say things that may hurt your case. For example, during the conversation they may say something like “I’m sure the fact that you were already injured isn’t helping with anything right now!”. While it may seem innocent, your agreement could be taken to mean you had already sustained an injury you were claiming, which means they don’t have to pay you for damages.
Throughout the process of dealing with a car accident, you will be giving several statements: to law enforcement, to your attorney, to your insurance company, at a trial, etc. If you provide a recorded statement of what occurred to the at-fault driver’s insurance company, and then at trial you provide another statement (which is a very common thing to do when telling the same story several times), the insurance company may find discrepancies between statements, prove you’re lying, and therefore not be required to pay out what you deserve.
Finally, you may find yourself being lead into saying things that are not true. When an insurance company calls you, it is their responsibility to lead the conversation and get the information they need to get a complete picture of the claim. However, you may be asked questions that you’re not certain of the answer to, or they may push you into agreeing to seemingly minor facts that you don’t agree to. While it’s perfectly reasonable that you may be under stress and thus do not want to deal with disagreeing, even saying “I guess” when being asked a question you know is false in an insurance statement could potentially hurt your case.
When to refuse to give an insurance statement
If you are contacted by an insurance company that is not your own, you are not legally obligated to provide a statement. You have every right to hang up the phone. This is the first thing you need to be aware of. If you do decide you want to provide an insurance statement, contact an attorney and they will help you ensure that you do not provide them with any potentially dangerous information. Another option is to write down the chronological facts of the claim and keep it for your record. This will prevent you from accidentally saying something contradictory.
If the at-fault driver’s insurance company calls you in order to get a recorded statement, you must consent to being recorded, and you must be advised that your statement will be added as official documentation on the claim. If the insurance company advises your phone call will be recorded (especially if it’s for quality and training purposes), and you provide information, they are able to claim that you gave verbal consent. Any information you provide will be attached to the claim. This is a very common, very sneaky way insurance companies may get you to consent to being recorded without you realizing it.
If you provide a recorded statement, purposefully or not, that statement will forever be attached to the insurance claim. You cannot change it or take back anything you say – you may not even be able to access it. Therefore, it is very important to be careful about what information you provide to the insurance company of the at-fault driver.