What Is Stonewalling and How Should I respond?

March 26, 2023 / 4:10 pm

Does it seem like the insurance adjuster is dragging his feet on your personal injury claim? It may be that the adjuster is stonewalling you – that is, deliberately delaying the settlement of your claim in an effort to wear you down until you are willing to accept a low offer just to put an end to the frustration.

Stonewalling can take many forms, including:

Silence. This is, perhaps, the most frustrating stonewalling technique. The adjuster simply stops communicating with you. He does not respond to letters or emails or phone calls.

“I don’t have authority to settle for the amount you have requested.” It is the nature of an insurance claims department that the adjuster has to get authority to settle from someone higher in the chain of command. If, however, the adjuster makes this claim repeatedly, you are probably being stonewalled.

“Your claim is being reviewed.” Even though no settlement offer has been made, the adjuster assures you that the wheels are in motion:

Your claim is “in committee,” or “being reviewed by the home office,” or “waiting for a supervisor’s approval.” By dangling the carrot of a pending settlement, the adjuster hopes you will continue to wait.

“I need more proof.” The adjuster has copies of all your medical records and bills, and evidence of your lost wages, but says he needs “additional documentation” of your loss. If no offer is forthcoming, these repeated requests for documentation are a blatant effort to delay payment of your claim.

“I’m just getting up to speed on your file.”

Some insurance companies have a high turnover rate among claims adjusters; some insurance companies routinely move claims files from one adjuster to another. If you are constantly dealing with a new claims adjuster, for whatever reason, the effect is to stonewall your claim and delay payment while the adjuster learns the file.

“We can settle all of your claims or none of your claims.”

The adjuster may try to leverage one claim against another. If, for example, you have an auto damage claim and a bodily injury claim, the adjuster may refuse to settle your auto claim unless you also settle your injury claim (right now, for a low amount).