Fred was injured in a car crash and he told me that he received a phone message that somebody called to speak with him from Acme insurance. I asked Fred if that was his insurance company or the other driver's insurance company. Fred said that he was insured by Acme but he didn't know the other driver's insurance company. I asked Fred to look at the accident report, and lo and behold, the other guy was also insured by Acme.
My next question to Fred was whom did the adjuster represent? Fred didn't know and asked does it matter, I said it absolutely matters.
Why it matters
The simple answer is that even though it's the same insurance, each adjuster has a different responsibility to you. If the adjuster that left the message for Fred was handling his side of the claim, then the adjuster owes Fred a duty of good faith and fair dealing, and Fred has to talk to him. If the adjuster represented the other guy, then the relationship is adverse, and Fred does not have a responsibility to say give the guy a recorded statement or provide him with a medical authorization or provide him with in depth information about his injuries.
How does this work on the Insurance Company's end?
The way it is supposed to work on the insurance company's end is that they assign two different adjusters to the claim, and they are also supposed to restrict access to each other's files. Whether this happens is up to debate. With some of the larger insurance companies, they adjusters may be in different locations.
How is Fred supposed to handle the return phone call?
When Fred returns the adjuster's call, the first question he should ask is which file is he handling. If he is handling Fred's file, the adjuster is a first party adjuster, and Fred has to cooperate with him. If the adjuster is handling the other guy's file, he is handling the third party claim, and Fred has no real duty to discuss the case with him.
One of the best ways for Fred to think about the situation so he doesn't get confused is to assign the other guy's insurance company a different name like “X”, this way when he receives letters in the mail, he knows how to respond.
This type of situation can be tricky for people who are injured in car accidents and don't deal with insurance companies on a regular basis. If they don't keep their guard up, they can make common mistakes that destroy their Indiana personal injury claim.