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Here's what a claims adjuster does after an accident

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Behind the scenes with an auto claims adjuster.

If you’ve been in a car crash, you’ve probably worked with a claims adjuster, but you may not realize how much investigating, negotiating, and coordinating that adjusters do on your behalf to resolve a claim. To shed light on their role, we asked some adjusters to describe tasks they tackle on a typical day, keeping in mind that they handle several claims at once, all in different stages of the process. In addition, those scenarios vary depending on whether or not an injury is involved and on what coverage is available to the insured under the policy.

8 a.m. Clear inboxes. Most adjusters start their day with voice mail and email. They review new claims that came in overnight, and follow up on pending claims.

9:30 a.m. Take statements. When a claim arrives, adjusters first take a statement from the person reporting the claim. “It’s important for insureds to make themselves available throughout the claims process,” says AAA Claims Service Representative Sandra Lagmay. “Just because the claim has been reported, it doesn’t mean we have all the information we need.” If liability for the collision is unclear, adjusters may secure recorded statements from all parties involved, including third-party witnesses, if any. If injuries are involved, adjusters also gather those details to help them evaluate the claim.

11 a.m. Gather evidence and check coverage. Adjusters collect photos of damaged vehicles and of the accident scene, as well as other types of evidence, such as a police report or a video of the collision. They may also need to confirm if the drivers involved have valid auto insurance. Timely and thorough investigations are important. The facts affect the type of coverages and/or damage amounts that can be recovered, including deductibles.

12:30 p.m. Secure estimates of the damaged vehicle. Adjusters will contact a property damage appraiser and a body shop to determine if the car is repairable and to provide estimated repair costs and an expected timetable. Once repairs begin, adjusters track the job and communicate to the insured if there are delays or if additional damage is found.

2 p.m. Set up a rental car. Adjusters can also make rental car arrangements so the insured has transportation while their vehicle is under repair.

2:30 p.m. Triage medical bills. In injury claims, adjusters carefully review medical records and assess costs in order to properly evaluate the claim.

4 p.m. Negotiate an injury settlement. Upon completing triage, adjusters will open negotiations with the other driver and/or their attorney. These can entail a quick phone call or can last for weeks or months. If negotiations break down, adjusters may bring in a mediator. If there’s an impasse and a lawsuit is filed, the insurance company will assign an attorney to the suit. Meanwhile, adjusters continue to handle claims and look out for the interests of the insured.

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