If you have been involved in an accident, you can expect to be contacted
by a claim adjuster from the other party's insurance company. The
claim adjuster will request certain personal information, including your
full name, address, date of birth and Social Security number. The claim
adjuster also may request the name of your primary care doctor or your
health insurance. You may be told that this information is required to
open a claim or maybe that no settlement check can be issued without this
information. Do you give the claim adjuster your personal information?
What you don’t know (and won’t be told) is that your personal
information will be entered into a national data base and will be made
available to the other party's insurance company (and any other insurance
company that wants to investigate you). Your personal information will
be available to any insurance company that subscribes to the data base
service (and more than 90% of them do). This data base is called the “Index
The Index System provides a wealth of information to insurance companies
about you in addition to your personal information, including your current
insurance policy information, prior claims made by you and against you,
injuries you may have sustained in other accidents, etc . While it can
be a great investigative tool for the insurance industry to detect fraudulent
claims, index information is not always interpreted correctly and inaccurate
assumptions about your claim can result. Also, as with any database, the
information is only as good as the information that is entered accurately
into the database, and sometimes errors are made.
How does providing your personal information affect the handling of your
claim? If you have been involved in a prior car accident and the claim
adjuster suspects you may have been injured in that prior accident, you
can bet he/she will attempt to obtain your prior medical records. Is that
an invasion of your privacy? You bet it is. Filing an injury claim because
of someone else's negligence does not mean you must give up your right
to privacy. Even if you were not injured or had an injury to a different
part of your body, prior claims often lead to "low ball" offers,
based on the assumption (sometimes inaccurate) that your injury was pre-existing.
Typically, the claim adjuster will ask you to prove you were NOT injured
in a prior accident by agreeing to release 10 years (or more) worth of
medical records. Is that a further invasion of your privacy? You bet it is!
For these reasons, it is important to tell your attorney if you have been
involved in any prior accidents (even if there was no injury or an injury
to a different part of your body). That way, your attorney will have a
heads up as to what kind of index information the claim adjuster may have on you.
If you have been injured because of someone else's negligence, whether in a
car accident or other accident, call now to schedule a free, no pressure consultation.
It is never too early to discuss your options with an attorney. I offer
a free, no pressure consultation over the phone or in person and there's
never a fee until I win your case.
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