At the Marc Lopez Law Firm, many of our clients have been involved in automobile accidents that ultimately result in them being charged with DUI / OVWI. Because of this, one of the more common questions I’m asked is, Marc, my insurance company wants to talk to me. What do I say? If you learn nothing else from this blog, I want you to remember this: You must cooperate with your insurance company, or they will not cover you.
If someone from your insurance company calls and asks for a statement about the accident you were involved in, you should speak to them. You don’t need to worry about confidentiality, because the statements you make to your insurance company are privileged and shouldn’t be used against you in court. Not only are you allowed to speak to your insurance company, you have a duty to work with them following a collision.
That said, it’s always a good idea to speak carefully, especially when a criminal case is involved. If you’re already facing (or expecting to face) criminal charges, it makes good legal sense to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney before making your official statement. I, Marc Lopez, or any one of my talented associates would be happy to talk you through this scenario, including what to say, what not to say, and things to watch out for. When it comes to your insurance company, the key considerations are honesty and cooperation. If you fall short on either count, you may find yourself without coverage, and this could leave you in a very vulnerable position, especially where other parties involved in the accident are looking for someone to sue.
On the other hand, if you’re contacted by someone else’s insurance company, the opposite is true. You don’t owe them assistance or candor, and you should not speak to them. Statements that you make to someone else’s insurance company are not privileged, and these statements can and will be used against you.
For example, let’s say I carry Progressive auto insurance, and I’ve recently gotten into an accident. If Geico calls me and wants to know what happened, I’ll politely redirect them to Progressive.
GEICO: We were hoping you could tell us a little about the collision that occurred last Saturday.
ME: I’m insured through Progressive. They’ll be handling the claim for me.
GEICO: We just wanted to get a statement.
ME: I’m sorry, but you’ll need to call Progressive.
This isn’t any fun, but it is important. As an attorney, part of my job is alleviating client stress whenever possible. When I encourage people not to make statements to insurance companies other than their own, I’m trying to save them unnecessary stress in the long-run.
Bottom line: Talk to your insurance company, and don’t talk to anyone else’s. If you get flustered in the moment and find that you don’t know who you’re on the line with—stop, and take a breath. Get the person’s name, number, and employer, and let them know you’ll call them back. Then give us a call, and we’ll walk you through the next steps. If you have any other questions about the games that insurance companies play, give us a call at 317-632-3642, and when in doubt, always remember to plead the 5th!