I once got into an accident outside of Dunkin’ Donuts in South End. Other than not causing the accident… I did everything wrong. I didn’t call the police, didn’t get the other person’s information and didn’t grab a post-accident donut. I spoke with one Charlotte insurance claims adjuster who was really nice and didn’t judge me for how poorly I handled this situation.
Here are his confessions about customer threats, insurance fraud and his tricks for getting information out of claimants.
What’s the weirdest thing that’s happened to you at work?
I’ve had people threaten to hunt me down and kick my a** over liability decisions.
Nobody has ever followed through, but it’s weird that someone would become so irrationally angry when they could just call their own insurance company and let them handle everything. (These have always been the same people who don’t believe they’re at fault and are “injured,” usually with no insurance of their own.)
Tell me about the biggest scam artist you’ve seen. What about the dumbest scam artist?
I can combine these two into one.
I had a lady who was trying to commit insurance fraud, I knew something crooked was afoot when she couldn’t even tell me how the car got from her house to this parking lot the loss occurred in. The police later called to tell me that they never even sent an officer out to the scene to meet this lady—the report was taken over the phone. I made sure that she did not pass go or collect $200!
What’s the most money you’ve paid out to a claimant?
I paid out $35,000 for a guy’s brand new GMC Sierra 3500 (worth about $70K).
Are you a more cautious driver because of your job?
Very much so. I feel like I’m the only person in Charlotte who uses their car horn every single time I’m in the car.
I’m not a perfect driver but knowing that most of the claims I handle tend to be “at-fault accidents” I make sure to sound the horn anytime I even think someone is going to pull out in front of me. I’ve never been in an at-fault accident and I hope to never be in one.
What’s the most common injury you see?
Injuries to the neck, upper and lower back. For the most part these are very easy to handle.
What’s the worst injury you’ve seen?
I recall a pretty bad injury from a motorcyclist who was thrown off his bike and over a car.
From what I remember, his heel got peeled off, leg broken and turned around facing the wrong way, broken collarbone, exposed rib and multiple lacerations.
The injuries were so severe I wasn’t able to handle the claim.
Do you ever feel guilty about denying a claim?
When I first started out I would feel guilty because I never knew how the person would react.
Now? It’s just how the cookie crumbles.
I know that sounds harsh but there are only so many types of accidents and most times it’s clear who’s at fault. “Sorry Ma’am, you are at fault because you pulled out in front of the other car. Just because you didn’t see them doesn’t mean they weren’t there. You can’t trust someone waving you out because they said it was okay to go.”
What do most people not know about insurance adjusters?
A lot of people don’t understand that the police don’t determine fault, the insurance companies do.
The police report is just a tool we use as part of our investigation. The officer may think Driver A is at fault, but my investigation may reveal that both Driver A and B are at fault.
Any other confessions?
The best way to get all the information about how an accident occurred is to ask a straight forward question and then stay silent.
Most people hate silence, so they’ll continue to ramble to fill the dead space and just spill things that may help me in the investigation until I eventually have to stop them.
I’ve learned so much about people’s kids, divorces and their trials and tribulations.