After an accident, it’s inevitable that you will have to deal with an insurance adjuster when filing a claim, either with your insurance company or the one representing the other party.
In the aftermath of an already-stressful event like a car accident, this process adds more stress because often the insurance adjuster does not want to work with you.
Instead, they are often trying to work out how they can pay you as little as possible.
During this process, you may be asked to sign a medical authorization form releasing your medical records to the insurance company. So should you? The answer is almost always a resounding no, for several reasons.
While you generally shouldn’t sign a medical release, there is one situation where it’s okay: if it’s being requested by your own insurance company. If your insurance company needs you to sign a medical release in order to process and pay your medical bills, then it’s best to do so.
Why You Should NOT Sign a Medical Authorization Form
The most important time to ask yourself “should I sign a medical release for the insurance adjuster” is if the adjuster works for the other person’s insurance company. There are a few reasons why:
1. It Could Hurt Your Settlement
Even though an adjuster may tell you this is necessary in order to pay you, what they are really doing is looking for anything in your medical history that could reduce your claim.
If you suffered a neck injury in the accident, for example, but had mentioned minor neck pain to your doctor at some point in the past, the insurance adjuster may attempt to say that your current injury is merely an extension of the issue you’ve experienced in the past.
Signing a medical release can also hurt your settlement even if you did not experience any prior symptoms. If you release your records too early, before you or your doctor are aware of the full extent of the injuries caused by the crash, then an insurance adjuster may work on your claim using incomplete information.
2. It’s an Invasion of Privacy
When you’re in an accident, you may suffer a specific kind of injury that you are filing the claim for. By releasing your entire medical history, other issues that you don’t want third parties to know about can be seen.
You should not have to worry about an insurance adjuster searching through the kinds of sensitive information contained in a medical record, especially when that information may have nothing to do with your crash.
What About Medical Reports or Examinations?
Sometimes, adjusters will request a medical report to clarify a particular medical issue or an independent medical examination as a “second opinion.” In both cases, unless you are required to by law, it may be best to refuse.
When it comes to medical reports, if the request seems reasonable then it’s up to you to decide if you want to release that information. If you do, though, never let the insurance company speak directly with your doctor—make sure you are in control, so that you are aware what your doctor might say and how much they would charge for the report.
Medical examinations should be approached with more caution. Because the doctor performing the exam is hired by the insurance company, they may be less neutral than your primary care provider or specialist.