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Commercial Insurance Claim Form with glasses & pen

Insurance Claim Questions Answered By a Seasoned Adjuster

How do insurance companies determine the settlement authority of adjusters?

Settlement authority can get a little complicated. In most instances, an insurance adjuster who is looking at your property damage claim goes by an industry standard estimating computerized program. It is up to the adjuster or each individual insurance company as to their procedures on the use of aftermarket parts. This means parts that are made by a company other than the original manufacturer. For the most part, aftermarket parts are cheaper, but does not necessarily mean that the quality is not as good. Sometimes, especially if you have an older vehicle, the only way to find a replacement part is through the aftermarket venues. This also cuts down on time wasted time looking for parts that can’t be found. After all, your objective is to have repairs made quickly so that you can be Back on the road as soon as possible.

You may want OEM (original equipment manufacturer) parts, but the insurance company may not always allow for the costs unless you are willing to pay an upgrade. For instance, if you are driving a 1999 Peterbilt, you might not have the best argument for OEM parts as this may lead to a situation where adding the costs puts your rig in a higher repair cost, and ultimately causing it to be a total loss. The value of your rig is not what you might value it to be based on the fact that it’s where you sleep, where you cook your meals; basically, your home away from home. The value is the actual market value and this is what you will be offered. Then you will have a little bit of money and have to start all over. In the meantime, you have lost income.

So, I know I have gone a long way around this answer to give you some things to think about. The real answer is that when it comes to damage to your vehicle, you must do your homework and know what the real market value of your vehicle is versus the economic and sentimental value to you. You also must remember that the mileage on your engine has a bearing on the value as well as how well you have taken care of your vehicle, just like if you were looking at a personal automobile.

The adjuster does have a certain amount of authority as to how much he can pay out. If it is beyond his/her level, then the claim may go to someone who has more expertise in evaluating your damages. The key is to provide the adjuster with the tools that they need to quickly and fairly estimate your damages. Provide photos of your damages, make the vehicle available (set a time) for an adjuster to do an estimate of the damages. They may ask for proof that you are the true owner of the vehicle. You may be asked to provide proof of maintenance records as this too will affect the value of your vehicle. Provide this without delay. If you have a question about any of these factors, call the Eckert law firm to discuss.

Do insurance companies have a quota of claims to settle on a weekly or monthly basis?

There is no such quota that I am aware, but, just like a lot of jobs, the adjusters are spread thin. They are expected to be several places at once and are overloaded. Be nice and they might handle your claim quicker.

How often should someone follow up with a insurance adjuster on a claim?

If after reporting a claim to either your own insurance company or the at fault insurance carrier, if you have not received a call within 48 hours, you should be on the phone to the telephone # you were given when calling in the claim and speak with the adjuster or supervisor. Always leave a message. If you can inquire as to an email address for your adjuster, I would suggest sending an email. Don’t leave vague messages; leave your name, your claim number, telephone number and the best time to call you back. Be specific as to why you are calling. Follow with an email. Repeat this process until you are able to get a satisfactory answer.

If you are getting nowhere, call Eckert & Associates.

Can a claimant find out the limits of an insured’s policy?

Yes and no. It depends on the state regulations in which the at fault party has insurance. Each state is different, but for the most part, you can obtain a copy of the “Declarations” (proof of insurance) by sending a request in writing.

What pictures will best support my insurance claim? (not just close ups of the damage itself)?

1. The scene showing the entire area around the site of the collision. This helps to determine the exact location, and to identify any businesses or other structures, street lights, etc., where cameras may be present or witnesses could be available.
2. Tags, signs on the tractor and the trailer.
3. What was the weather? Was the street wet or have snow or ice?
4. Where there any trees, bushes or other structures obstructing either driver’s view?
5. The other driver. There have been instances where the at fault driver has told his employer that he was not involved in fear of his job. Take the at fault driver’s picture if they allow you to do so.
6. If you have a dash cam, preserve that film. If you don’t have one, get one.

How to best get your damages approved? (provide in organized fashion, all at once, typed, etc.)

1. Initially, report the claim, provide the crash report # and as much details as possible including all parties involved, the vehicle involved, the insurance companies for each party, the names of any know witnesses, and your detailed recount of what happened in the accident.
2. If possible, obtain a copy of the crash report and arrange to send to the insurance companies involved. This helps to prevent delays as some companies do not have instant access to reports and can delay several days or weeks depending on the state, whether local city or highway patrol.
3. Provide documentation as outlined previously in this report.

How do I go up the ladder within the insurance company to get a better result?

Unless you are having a specific issue with the adjuster, work with him/her, as they already are the most familiar with your insurance claim. If you are not getting results and you feel your claim is being unnecessarily delayed or you are not getting the attention you feel your case deserves, then ask the adjuster for the name and direct telephone number for their immediate supervisor and ask to be transferred to the supervisor or hang up, get your thoughts together and call the supervisor direct. Have your questions prepared so that you are not repeating the same complaints to someone who will have to look at your claim and likely have to call you back. If your discussion is clear and precise, you are more likely to get help.


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