Q Am I required to give my social security number to an insurance adjuster?
What does your social security number have to do with a traffic accident insurance claim? Insurance companies have no relationship to your retirement benfits under social security, right? So, why do they always ask for your social security number when you file a claim for injury recovery benefits after a car accident?
The answer is much like the internet "cookie". Information is being assembled about you without your knowledge by almost every insurance company operating in the United States. The information they collect contains the history of every major injury claim you have filed, and what medical care you received. By tracking that information, insurance adjusters can "look you up" in the insurance database to see if you have ever had similar injuries before the current injury claim.
The information is voluminous, so the insurance companies needed a short & unique identifying piece of information that is easy to use to identify your claims, vs. anyone else's claims who might happen to have a similar name or age. As a result, the insurance companies chose our social security numbers to get this short and simple identification process off the ground. It is known as the Bodily Injury Index, or BI index for short.
Now, do you have to give your social security number to the insurance adjuster handling your car accident cliam? No. Your social security number is personal information, and you are only legally required to give it when dealing with a tax authority.
So, what do they want my social security number for anyway?
The BI Index is a massive database that is used to try and catch people in a lie when making claims. If you forget that you once had a prior claim for a small car accident, count on the insurance company using the BI Index Bureau to get the details on that old claim, and then use that information against you to deny or reduce their settlement offer in your current case.
Though some insurance firms will simply use your SSN to pull up your file, there are others that will also use this key to your personal information to investigate previous claims and settlements. The information they find may not even be relevant to your existing case, but it can easily be used to deny or minimize any settlement you might deserve on your current claim.
There are some cases where an adjuster may need your SSN for legal reasons. In some states, insurance companies are required to check your SSN against government databases for outstanding family support or tax debt before releasing your settlement. Some states now require a mediaid benefit check to allow the state to be repaid from medical expenses paid for you to help treat your injuries from this accident.
If you do give your social security number to an adjuster, it is in your best interests to first make sure that you know exactly why they want it. Do not be afraid to speak with an attorney if you have any question about the legitimacy of the request.
The Virginia truck accident lawyers at The Strong Law Firm serve victims of Virginia, District of Columbia, and Maryland highway accidents. If you are frustrated with denied or low-claim settlements, we may be able to help. Schedule a free case review today by calling 703-350-4241 or filling out the online contact form.
Also be sure to order a FREE copy of Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing, the must-read guide to what insurance companies don’t want you to know.