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How to Avoid Saying the Wrong Thing When Filing an Insurance Claim

Saying the wrong thing to your insurance company when you file a claim can mean the difference between a quick settlement and an ongoing struggle. Here are some words and phrases worth avoiding.


  • Step 1: Be general When filing a claim, whether in writing or over the phone with an agent, answer the questions as simply as possible, and don't volunteer any additional information.
  • TIP: Avoid using the words "flooded" and "mold" when filing a claim for property damage; they may trigger investigations that can get your claim delayed or denied.
  • Step 2: Tiptoe around medical insurers Steer clear of any words that indicate you're receiving nonstandard medical treatment, such as "experimental," or "clinical trial." Use the phrase "medically necessary" when describing your treatment.
  • Step 3: Car accidents mean never saying "I'm sorry" When reporting a car accident to your insurance company, describe what happened in a brief, straightforward manner, and don’t apologize. Also avoid using the word "whiplash," which can raise red flags with insurance companies because of the frequency in fraudulent whiplash claims.
  • TIP: Consult with an attorney before giving a statement to the other driver's insurance company.
  • Step 4: Remain cordial No matter how upset you are with your insurance company when filing a claim, avoid being abusive. Everything you say may be noted in your claim records, and being difficult won't help your cause.
  • Step 5: Remember who you're talking to Remember that the insurance claims adjuster is not your friend. Don't let your emotions or their apparent empathy lull you into saying the wrong thing when filing a claim.
  • Step 6: Keep a written record Take detailed notes of all conversations with insurance companies, including the names, direct phone numbers, and job titles of everyone you speak to. They will come in handy if you have a problem down the road.
  • FACT: Hurricane Katrina resulted in 1.7 million insurance claims across 6 states.

You Will Need

  • Brevity
  • Discretion
  • Cordiality
  • Common sense
  • Written record
  • Attorney (optional)

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