Distracted while driving - obliged to tell own adjuster?

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 28, 2007 8:03 pm   Post subject: Distracted while driving - obliged to tell own adjuster?  

My best friend was in an accident today (she is sore but ok) and needs to call her insurance company. She may have been using a cell phone (a frequent occurrence) at the time of the accident. If HER insurance adjuster asks her if she was using a cell phone at the time of the accident, what should she do? I know that HER insurance adjuster is supposed to be on her side but it just doesn't seem wise to me to admit anything to anybody. Maybe down the road it will be proven she was on the phone but right now she is pretty shaken up.



What would your advice be in dealing with your OWN insurance company's adjuster? I would imagine that there is no attorney-client privilege. But I would wonder if there is some obligation to lay this out for your OWN adjuster.


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 28, 2007 9:15 pm   Post subject:   

Hello SeattleSonicsKD and welcome to the community,



I understand you are trying to be a good friend, but if you are advising her in this direction (not to tell her adjuster the truth about the cell phone) you are giving her bad advise, that could cost her dearly.



She has a obligation to tell the truth, no matter what the truth is or how ugly it is, to her adjuster/insurance company. To intentional lie will put her in financial and possibly judical jeopardy. She is running the risk of having the entire claim denied. One part of the insuring contact she has with her carrier will say something along the lines of; "The insured agrees and authorizes us to obtain any records that may be relavant to the claim or that may reasonably be expected to aid us in deteremining the facts relevant to the claim" (PHONE RECORDS-my note in para.), and "answer any questions we ask, (including) under oath" ........ If it is against the law to use a cell phone in your state, then she was just wrong, I'm sorry. She needs to tell the truth about the accident the ENTIRE accident, whether it is illegal to use the cell or not. And they (her carrier) are on HER SIDE, but how can they defend her (especially if she's caught) if she lies? I'll tell you how they won't! If they catch her lying they will bale (meaning not give her much or any credance) on the claim. And she will lose all creditablility with her carrier and likely be canceled, and have one hell of time finding another.



Think LONG AND HARD before you decide to change any of the facts of an accident. There is always someone else who probably saw her, and if anyone makes that allegation, and she says she was not on the phone, her insurance company may request her phone records to prove her innocense, then there you go, now she's in trouble with her carrier too. And (as I mentioned) they CAN deny the entire claim if they so elect.



Please just tell the truth.....

Lori
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 28, 2007 11:21 pm   Post subject:   

Lori - Thank you for your advice. I really appreciate it. I wish I knew more about this area so I could provide her reasonable counsel myself. Might help me gain her affection lol.



I passed your info along to her. I found out that she had already told the claims hotline that she didn't recall being on a cell phone during the accident. She seems to not recall the impact and the minute before or after so I think she was truthful (but not factual). Signs do point to possible cell phone usage during the accident or the period immediately following.



She said that HER actual adjuster is expected to call on Monday. Do I take it that your advice would be to offer HER adjuster the additional information even if he does not ask?



On a side note, is there a circumstance where an insurance company would be able to deny coverage solely based upon cell phone usage?



Many thanks


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 29, 2007 7:19 am   Post subject: Shouldn't withhold information from the adjuater  

Hiding any relevant information from the adjuster is not going to help her anyway, save making the things worse for her. She may even run into the risk of losing insurance coverage in future.



Quote:
Signs do point to possible cell phone usage during the accident or the period immediately following.




If the nature of the damage is already directing towards the probable use of cell phone at the time of the accident, then, I believe that she stands very little chance in denying that.



Quote:
is there a circumstance where an insurance company would be able to deny coverage solely based upon cell phone usage?




Well, depending upon the insurance carrier, they can.



Drivers are normally discouraged of using mobile phones at the time of driving. Some states even impose restrictions on using wireless communication devices while you're behind the wheels. If her state qualifies under this, then she may face harsher consequences in future.



I understand that your intension is to help her, but you should help her with good advises. And not advising her to withhold truth from her carrier. Hope you will sing on the right note before her.



Regards,

Juanita
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 29, 2007 11:53 am   Post subject:   

Quote:
Might help me gain her affection lol.


That's so cute, Knight in Shining Armor! Wink However, you'll be the 'goat' rather than the 'hero' if she lies! Laughing





Quote:
Do I take it that your advice would be to offer HER adjuster the additional information even if he does not ask?
Yes, and no, if he asks certainly tell the TRUTH, if the TRUTH is that she isn't sure, tell him/her that, ''I'm honestly not sure if I was on the phone, I might've been, and then again I might not have been'' However honey, I find it highly unlikely that she wouldn't have known, ConfusedRolling Eyes and most certainly the party she was talking to would know! (ie) BANG! "what was that?" "I hit a car! "OH!" get my point?.....The adjuster will likely take a recorded statement, in his 'script' there may now be that very question, ''were you on your cell phone'' or ''was there any distraction''...tell her to tell the truth! Would I start the conversation with, 'hey adjuster i was talkin' on the phone when this happened!' na, I wouldn't.



Quote:
On a side note, is there a circumstance where an insurance company would be able to deny coverage solely based upon cell phone usage?
I do not know of any that would deny her coverage solely based on that (using her cell phone at impact) whether illegal in your area or not. Drunk driving is illegal and we don't deny those claims..Would only be able to deny it base on that if there is a special circumstance/endorcement/provision in her policy, and I find that highly unlikely. As I mentioned though they CAN deny a claim if an insured lies about any part of the facts of loss. We (adjusters/ins companies) don't impose that often, generally an insured will 'fess' up in time to straighten everything out.



You didn't say what happened in the loss, did she rearend someone? Let us know also the progression of the claim. Glad we are able to help and look forward to your updates. Please let us know if you have anything else we can help you with!
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 29, 2007 7:06 pm   Post subject:   

Thanks very much for the additional info.



I told my friend that I thought she should promptly call her carrier and tell them the fuller truth (that a call was made on her cell in close proximity to the time of the accident but she does not remember making the call and thus does not know if it was made before or after the accident [and there was no evidence of the accident happening on the call recipient's message]).



Her carrier has already indicated that there are right of way issues with her claim and that, without good witnesses or a favorable police report, she would likely be deemed at fault. Given that, it seemed to make sense to be proactive about the cell phone call and not give the carrier any leeway to deny the claim even if it increases the likelihood of an at fault determination.



Again, thanks so much.


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 31, 2007 10:33 am   Post subject:   

Quote:
Given that, it seemed to make sense to be proactive about the cell phone call and not give the carrier any leeway to deny the claim even if it increases the likelihood of an at fault determination.
you are correct, you did the right thing by your friend. Smile





Quote:
Again, thanks so much
You are welcome, and I hope you capture the heart of your your 'Damsel in distress'...good luck WinkVery Happy
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 31, 2007 3:35 pm   Post subject:   

Question... did talking on the phone _really_ have anything to do with the accident? If not, I don't know that I'd come right out and point this out. If someone asked, where you on your mobile phone I'd certainly tell them the truth.



I'm an adjuster and I know that statistics tell us that talking on mobile phones can lead to accidents. I don't buy it 100% (consider the source). Yes, it _can_ distract people... but so can talking to a passenger. Where are the studies on that? If your friend had a passenger and she was talking to that person would she volunteer this information, as to indicate that she was distracted?



As I mentioned, I'd answer questions truthfully mainly as an adjuster uses this to guage how truthful the person's entire statement it. If they catch one obvious lie, they are going to give lesser weight to the person's entire statement. But I'm just a little worried that talking on the mobile phone really did not change anything and by your friend just offering this info that it might lead the adjuster to wonder why it was being mention... that is, perhaps your friend was mentioning it up front as she thought it _did_ contribute to the accident.



I'd answer truthfully but not bring it up on my own. Let the adjuster handle the claim as they see fit.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2007 11:59 am   Post subject:   

It is illegal/against the law in many states now to talk on a cell phone while driving. In some states it is against the law for a driver under the age of 21/18 to talk on the phone while driving.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2007 3:59 pm   Post subject:   

Well, not "many". Only one that I could find and I'm not 100% it's a total ban (New York). Several other states have made it illegal only if your not using a headset. But several other _states_ have made laws stating that individual municipalities _cannot_ make laws against this.



It's just more political posturing. Politicians introduce bills like these to make it look like they are working and to get their name out in public. If you don't make the correct laws, it's really just a joke. Example: New Hampshire at least got it right in making other things like eating and drinking while driving illegal as well (but they don't require the use of seat belts, huh). As I mentioned above, is it any less distracting to have a conversation with someone who is in the vehicle? Where are the studies on this? What about radios? I can rememeber stories from adjusters who had many claims when people were adjusting their radios. How about adjusting MP3 players and Ipods? Heck, most states don't make it illegal for drivers to watch TV while driving. Lastly, why allow cell use when using a headset? How is this less distracting?



Do I think cell phone use contributes to some accidents? Yup. Very few, but yes. I could name _millions_ of things that do. That does not mean we need or should have laws banning them (example: why not make radios illegal). When we find the drivers distracted and it leads to an accident, hold them accountable then. Sorry, one more thing... I think there are some things that save enough lives, like wearing seat belts, that they should be laws. I just think cell phone use is the newest/hippist thing for politicians to use to make it look like they are working.

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