Three Things You Should Not Say to the Claims Adjuster

OK, your home is damaged in a storm or through water leakage or a pipe bursting.  Obviously, you should contact your insurance company right away.  They’ll take some information.  One rule is don’t say too much because they are going to have an adjuster come out and view the damage, so let them decide if it is a “small” incident or what the extent of the damage is.

With the claims process started, remember two important things:

The insurance company and ALL its personnel, including claims adjusters do not have as their primary focus helping you, their primary intent is to minimize the cost to the insurance company.

The insurance adjuster is not “on your side”, he/she represents the insurance company and will try to minimize your damage.  How?  Easy: underestimating cost of replacement materials; underestimating the time required to do the job; not taking into account restoring to original condition where part is damaged but any partial replacement is not going to restore a uniform appearance (Florida requires that restoration does that; if a partial fix won’t do it, the entire surface must be restored); and lastly BY TRYING TO FIND A REASON TO DENY THE CLAIM.

New Leaf services FAQs

What services does New Leaf offer?

New Leaf offers ‘direct cremation’ services at an affordable price. Forms are filled out online or over the phone. We provide efficient, quality service at a clear, reasonable price.

Arrangements are made online or over the phone.

We provide efficient, quality service at a clear, reasonable price.

How does the process work?

-A call to New Leaf or a visit to our website is all that is needed to start the process

– You choose your package and receive a quote, complete the online forms, and provide payment.

-We then dispatch our licensed funeral directors to transport your loved one from the place of death to our climate controlled holding facility for care and storage.

-We then register the death with the local municipality. Forms, certificates and authorizations are completed according to New York State laws before the cremation can take place.

-Once the forms and authorizations have been signed and filed with the local health department, the decedent is transferred to a third party crematory (as required by New York State law) for cremation. Usually this takes place within 3-7 days.

-The ashes are then shipped to the family or a hand delivery/pickup is arranged.

How long does the process usually take?

The overall cremation process, from notification until the family receives the ashes, will take an average of 7–15 days (you said you would hold body for five days when we spoke; can you hold a body more than that without cremation; should note that if there is a delay, as outlined below, body must be cremated). (We can’t cremate until the forms are filed. If the delay is longer than 5 days we charge a storage fee per day) Funeral homes are at the mercy of the medical examiner and others, though, so delays can and do occur.

The overall cremation process, from initial arrangements until the family receives the ashes, will take an average of 10–15 days.

Delays may occur when local, state or federal agencies, police, county coroner, or medical examiners become involved and investigate the circumstances surrounding a death, or the attending physician delays signing the death certificate.

You can rest assured that New Leaf will keep you informed every step of the way should a delay occur.

**Note: Should a delay in obtaining the death certificate require us to store your loved one in our care beyond the standard 3 day window, a daily ‘custodial care’ of $150/day will apply.

Is the memorial service included?

No, New Leaf handles the cremation allowing you to plan your own memorial service. If you would like to have a memorial service at one of our partner funeral homes we will be happy to arrange.

How are the ashes delivered?

Your loved one’s ashes will be either shipped through USPS Priority Mail, or hand-delivered by one of our representatives. They come in a rigid plastic container unless an urn is purchased through our website.

Does low cost mean low quality?

When it comes to a traditional funeral, yes, you get what you pay for- nicer facilities, nicer livery vehicles, etc. Direct Cremations are different however. New Leaf offers an efficient service and we pride ourselves on quality customer service. We believe that a person’s financial standing should not preclude them from a dignified end, and that every life should be celebrated. We treat our clients like family, just as we have for over 100 years at our partner funeral homes.

With all that being said, there are three things you should never say or do to or with the insurance company’s adjuster:

  1. Any statement about non-performance of routine maintenance that would allow insurance company to cite that as part of the reason for the damage, i.e., a leaking pipe that wasn’t fixed; roof shingles that weren’t replaced; etc.
  2. Any statement that indicates the underlying condition was long-standing, i.e., well it was only a small leak for the last two years”. The adjuster is able to determine in most cases whether the condition was recent or long-term.  Not taking care of a problem through lack of routine maintenance or timely fixing/maintenance can be cause to deny the claim or modify the claim amount.
  3. Make a recorded statement. An insurance adjustor who asks for you to do that has only one goal: to get information that can be used against you to minimize or deny the claim.  It is NEVER to get “get your story” or to help you get a higher claim settlement.  Time to call us, Pinnacle, or an attorney.

So, your going to mind these three areas that you should be aware of.  There are also a couple of other things to do/avoid:

  • Document, document, document. Take your own pictures and make your own notes.
  • If you provide the adjuster with any notes, pictures, invoices, whatever, either give the adjuster a copy or make a copy for your self. Also, try to get the adjuster to share his notes (unlikely) and give you a copy of his worksheet (sometimes they will).  The more documentation you have, the better armed you are to defend your claim
  • Keep a record of the timeline: when you first contacted the insurance company; when the insurance company responded; when the first appearance of the adjuster occurred; when the first settlement offer was made; etc.
  • Lastly, NEVER accept the first offer. Hard as it is to believe, the insurance company is going to make a low settlement offer; they expect to receive a counter-offer!  If you accept the first offer, you are leaving money on the table.

Neither the insurance company nor anybody who works for it are really that interested in helping you. As I mentioned above, perhaps the biggest mistake I’ve seen individuals make is putting their trust and faith in an insurance adjuster to do the “right thing.” I would like to make one thing perfectly clear to you before I go any further: (a) insurance companies are in the business of making a profit (which should come as no surprise to anyone); (b) The only way the insurance companies make a profit is when they take in more money (individuals paying insurance premiums) than what it is willing pay out to injured people like you;

(c) Therefore, whenever an insurance company is forced to get involved to settle an injury claim like yours, it will take whatever steps it can to pay you as little money as it can get by with. What that means is that while the insurance company may act nice to you, their ultimate goal is to be as nice as it takes so that it can settle with you for as cheaply as possible. Remember to always keep that in the front of your mind when you are dealing with an insurance company. One of the oldest tricks in the book is when an insurance adjuster contacts you by claiming that he or she only wants to work with you in settling your claim. REMEMBER: Adjusters are employees of insurance companies. Their loyalty, and in fact duty, rests solely with their employer, the insurance company. Insurance adjusters are highly trained to trick you into believing that they are your friend and that they only want to “help you out.” Here is how you know the insurance adjuster is not on your side but rather is on the side of his/her employer, a large corporate insurance company: insurance adjusters make bonuses in their salary by paying to you as little as possible.

In reviewing a claim, he or she may evaluate all of the relevant information to your case and, after discussing your case with his or her supervisors, will decide on the value of your claim. For example’s sake, let’s assume that an adjuster and his team put a value of $10,000 on your claim. When the adjuster is negotiating with you, he or she will likely start offering you some minimum amount, such as 50% of that amount, or $5,000. Ultimately, after you and the insurance adjuster have gone “round and round” in negotiating the settlement of your claim, the adjuster may tell you that he or she can go no higher than $7,500. The adjustor may even tell you that he/she is fighting for you with their supervisors but can’t get them to budge any higher. Because you have learned to trust this adjuster and have come to believe that he or she is your friend and is looking out for your interest, you will probably be tricked into accepting $7,500 to settle your claim. If you do accept that amount, the adjuster will have saved $2,500 from what he/she was authorized to pay you in the first place.

Trap #1: We need you to sign ‘just a few forms’: General Release

Trap #2: Giving a Recorded Statement Within a day or two after an accident, you will receive a call from an insurance adjustor to get “your side of the story” and some personal information. They will always seem nice and tell you they want to determine liability so if necessary, you can be compensated. You have nothing to hide, and I am sure you want to be helpful. So what could go wrong if you answer a few questions on tape? Plenty! You should never give a recorded statement to the insurance company of the individual who hit you. That deserves a second read; you should never give a recorded statement to an insurance company without first speaking with an attorney. It is not in your best interest and more than likely, it will be used against you.

The purpose of recording a statement is to ultimately take your words and use them to reduce your claim.

Trap #3: Settling Pre-Maturely

One of the biggest traps insurance companies will set is to get you to settle your claim as soon as possible. The quicker they settle your claim, the cheaper it will be and insurance adjustors know this. They also are aware that most accident victims want the experience to be over as quickly as possible. However, if you have serious medical injuries, you need to slow the process down. Do not allow the insurance company to pressure you into settling. Your priority should be to fully recover from your accident.