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A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing

When I recently changed my auto insurance, I received a packet from the new insurer. Front and center was their advice not to admit responsibility for an accident. Well, their lawyers advised them correctly because any statement – whether inculpatory, exculpatory, or indeed any remark – is admissible at a trial if made by a party opponent. I suppose, therefore, that I cannot blame an insurer for wanting to protect their policy holders in the event of an accident. But let’s look at it from the injured person’s perspective. A statement of responsibility at the scene by another driver could alleviate years of litigation on what is termed “liability.”

Maybe what the insurer’s advice tells us is that insurance companies are not, first and foremost, in the business of paying over money to claimants. After all, they did not advise their insured to say the truth at the scene of an accident. Rather, they were very mindful of implications for a personal injury case. That is why people with claims against an insurance company who have yet to hire a lawyer should not be disarmed by a pleasant claims adjuster. Many such insurance employees will try to greatly undersettle someone’s claim. It is why I will tell clients that it is good that they have an attorney rather than being lulled by “a wolf in sheep’s clothing.” What better evidence is there than the insurer’s own statement to never admit responsibility, even if their policy holder is responsible?

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