How to Give a Recorded Statement to An Insurance Company
At Sussman & Simcox we always recommend that you retain an attorney before agreeing to give a recorded statement to an insurance company, even your own. Once recorded, your statement is permanent and can be used years later if a case is in suit. So before you agree to a statement, it is really important to understand not only the issues at play, but HOW to answer questions. An attorney can help.
In most instances, a recorded statement is not required at all, despite the typical claim from the insurance representative that a recorded statement is required if they are to “complete the investigation into your accident.” In the rare case that a statement is required (we can help answer that question), you should take the process seriously.
Proving Accident Details
Before you give a recorded statement, take some time to prepare. Ensure you understand the incident's details, and have any relevant documents or photos on hand. Details matter and can add credibility to your account. Do you remember the street names? Which direction you were traveling? The weather? The type of cars involved? Where was the other car when you first saw it? An answer, “I don’t know, the car just came out of nowhere,” is weak, and more likely to hurt your case more than help. Take time to think about the facts, and write down key points to remind you what you want to say. The more prepared you are, the better you are likely to do. Never agree to a statement if you are on medication, in a rush, or in a distracted environment.
Avoid Speculation in Your Recorded Statement
It is important to stick to the facts when giving a recorded statement. Avoid casual chit-chat and avoid speculating or guessing about details you are unsure about. Stick to what you know for sure and be clear and concise in your answers. If you do not know the answer to a question, say so, rather than guessing or making assumptions. “I can’t be sure, but I’ll bet the other driver was on the phone” is classic speculation that is best left out of a statement.
Always Be Truthful
It is essential to be honest during the recorded statement. If you are caught lying, even about inconsequential matters, it ruins your credibility on more important case issues. Even if you think a small lie may not be a big deal, it could come back to haunt you in the future. Be truthful about what happened, and avoid exaggerating or downplaying any details.
The Issue of Fault is Paramount
In Maryland and D.C., the law is such that if the crash victim is even 1% at fault, their ENTIRE claim is barred. Let that sink in. Thus, a favorite tactic of an insurance company looking to deny your claim is to poke around at YOUR conduct to create an argument that you contributed to the crash. Watch out for bait questions like “So it sounds like maybe you were going a little fast?” or “If you had to do it over, how do you think you might have avoided the collision?” Don’t admit fault or give the other side reason to argue that you were at fault.
During the recorded statement, it is essential to be polite and respectful. Avoid getting defensive or angry, as this could harm your credibility. Answer the questions calmly and professionally, and avoid arguments or debates with the insurance adjuster.
Don't Agree to Anything
During the recorded statement, the insurance adjuster may try to get you to agree to certain things or sign documents. It is essential not to agree to anything without fully understanding the implications. If you are unsure about anything, ask for clarification or speak to an attorney before agreeing to anything.
Get a Copy of Your Statement
After you have given the recorded statement, ask for a copy of the transcript or recording. This will allow you to review what was said and ensure that there are no mistakes or inaccuracies. If you do find any mistakes, contact the insurance company immediately to have them corrected. YOU can even record the statement yourself, if your phone has such a program, but notify the claim rep that you intend to make your own recording. Having your own copy can be a good reminder of what you said, months or even years later.