Rachael Brennan has been working in the insurance industry since 2006 when she began working as a licensed insurance representative for 21st Century Insurance, during which time she earned her Property and Casualty license in all 50 states. After several years she expanded her insurance expertise, earning her license in Health and AD&D insurance as well. She has worked for small health in...

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Reviewed by Jeffrey Johnson
Insurance Lawyer Jeffrey Johnson

UPDATED: Apr 14, 2022

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Here's what you need to know...

  • A car insurance adjuster handles the investigation of an accident
  • If you are involved in an accident claim, the assigned adjuster will be your main point of contact throughout the entire repair process
  • Adjusters approve, adjust, or deny repair estimates that the assigned appraiser writes
  • You can file disputes with your insurance company if you believe the adjuster is handling your claim unfairly

Getting into an accident is never a happy time for anybody, but having auto insurance will definitely take care of the tedious tasks and help you to feel at ease.

How will insurance help you? As you deal with an accident and try to erase all the damage done, the insurance adjuster will be your main guide throughout the entire process.

It’s important to know what the insurance adjuster is responsible for and how they will handle the claim.

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Investigates to Determine Who Is at Fault for the Accident

Once an accident claim is filed, an auto insurance adjuster will be assigned. From there, the adjuster will begin investigating what happened and who caused the accident.

It’s important to know which party caused the accident so that the adjuster can determine whose insurance will be responsible for covering the repairs.

The adjuster will speak with all those involved and get official statements about how the accident occurred. Witnesses to the accident can record statements and/or call in to speak to the adjuster to provide statements.

If the police came to the scene and made a report, the adjuster will collect this as well. Adjusters use any information, videos, reports, or other evidence to help them come to a conclusion on who was truly liable for the accident.

If your insurance company finds you not at fault, the responsibility will be placed on the other party’s insurance and you’ll work with that assigned adjuster.

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Your Point of Contact for the Claim

The insurance adjuster is the one you’ll be speaking to about the claim. You will let the adjuster know where you would like your vehicle to be repaired.

The adjuster will also routinely contact you should there be any status updates or further questions about the accident.

The adjuster will be in contact with the auto body shop you have chosen to have your car repaired. The adjuster will also be the one issuing payment to the collision shop for the repairs.

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Repairs to the Vehicle

An appraiser is responsible for assessing the vehicle damages, taking photos of the vehicle, and writing up a repair plan for your car.

The assigned appraiser will do an inspection on the vehicle to determine which repairs are needed in order to bring the car back to pre-accident condition.

This means that they will be responsible for fixing all damage that the car incurred from the accident.

Once the appraiser inspects the vehicle, he or she will issue the repair estimate to the adjuster.

The adjuster will then approve the repairs, ask for your permission to have repairs started, and then give the repair shop permission to start repairing your vehicle.

Total Loss Settlements


Some accidents may cause so much damage to a vehicle that it would cost more to fix it than the vehicle is worth. This is when an appraiser and adjuster will consider the car to be a total loss.

Though this can be a very unfortunate situation, you will be offered a settlement for the car and the insurance will take the vehicle.

You don’t have to accept the settlement, but it can really benefit you to take the offer and use those funds for a down-payment on a new car. You also have the option to keep the vehicle, and the adjuster will take an amount off the vehicle for keeping the car.

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Red Flags to Watch For

Car insurance adjusters are there to help you with your accident claim, but they also want to keep the cost of the claim as low as possible.

This sometimes mean you could be cheated out of money you truly deserve. Just be sure to watch out for anything that seems unfair or suspicious. The following are some warning signs to look out for.

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Persuade You to Go to A Certain Collision Repair Shop

Insurance adjusters may try to steer you to a certain repair shop. This is most likely because that shop is an in-network shop that the insurance company has a large amount of control over so that they can repair your vehicle as cheaply as possible.

Though it isn’t always a bad idea, remember that you are free to have your vehicle repaired at any auto body shop you would like. It is illegal in most states for an insurer to force you to go to a specific repair facility.

Offer A Total Loss Evaluation That is Lower Than the Value of Your Vehicle

You do not have to accept a total loss settlement if you don’t think it is fair.

If your car is deemed a total loss, do your own research on the current value based on the year, make and model, mileage, and other factors.

Don’t accept a settlement immediately. Once you take the settlement check and cash it, the case is closed for good and you receive only what you were given.

Deny Coverage for No Reason


An adjuster may claim that the drivers’ statements didn’t add up or that the investigation was inconclusive. There are cases in which the claimants and/or the insured has lied about the accident, and there is plenty of evidence in order to deny the claim.

However legitimate claims can get denied, and you have a right to dispute any concerns on a claim with the insurance company and even take your case to court if necessary.

The adjuster will be there every step of the way during the claim process.

Be sure to be in continuous contact with the adjuster, to ask questions, and to be aware of what is going on so that you’re sure you are being treated fairly and are receiving all the help you deserve after an accident.

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