Many times people struggle with what to do if they are injured by the negligence of a friend or family member. It can strain a relationship to sue someone, to say the least. What most people recognize, however, is that your friend or family member’s insurance company will likely handle the case. People purchase insurance for precisely that reason: To defend and indemnify them if they are injured or sued. With a little insight into how insurers handle the process, you can better prepare for filing a claim.

Identifying the Insurer

The first step to filing a claim is determining which insurer to put on notice. If you were involved in an auto accident, you should obtain the insurance policy information for the at-fault driver. This can be an awkward situation if the driver is a friend or family member, but remember that the purpose of insurance is to take care of claims. If you are injured while visiting a home, condo, or apartment, you will need to put the homeowner’s or renter’s insurer on notice. If you are in a public or common area at a condo or apartment, you may also need to notify the property manager and its insurer. Once you have retained an attorney, he or she will send a letter of representation to the insurance company advising it of your potential claim and notifying the company to contact your attorney rather than you directly. In order to send the letter of representation, however, the attorney must know who the correct insurer is.

Setting Reserves

Insurers like to start investigating potential claims as soon as possible. Don’t be surprised if they want to interview you or even get copies of your medical records. Insurers do something called “setting reserves” for claims. This means that they estimate the value of your potential claim so they can hold funds in case they pay for the claim. It is important that you provide honest and complete details about your injury early so that the insurance company can set accurate reserves. If you undervalue your claim, it will make it very difficult later to recover a fair amount for your injuries. An experienced attorney can help position your case to maximize its value from the start.


Insurance companies make their money by holding and investing funds. Thus it is common for insurers to delay on paying liability claims, even totally legitimate claims. An experienced personal injury attorney can help speed up the process for you by working with the insurance adjustor.