It is standard practice for insurance companies to ask personal injury victims for their social security number in a personal injury case. Insurance adjusters do this very matter-of-factly, as if it is “standard protocol” that you MUST turn over this very private piece of information to them as “part of the process.”
The truth is YOU DO NOT HAVE TO TURN OVER YOUR SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER to the insurance company in your personal injury case and you should NOT do so!
The insurance adjuster will inevitably give you a hard time if you refuse to turn it over, and continue to try to convince you that it is mandatory in order for them to proceed with your case or resolve your case. We have even had insurance companies initially refuse to give us the settlement check, after we’ve negotiated with them for months and settled the case with them, unless we release our client’s social security number.
We never provide a client's social security number in a personal injury case - even when the insurance adjuster tries to withhold payment. This is simply a bullying tactic used by insurance adjusters and should not be given into by you or your personal injury attorney.
Once we advise the insurance company of the applicable law and that disclosure of the social security number in a personal injury case is not required for the release of settlement funds, they reluctantly agree and send us the check. It is really sad that it requires such extreme measures, but this is just one example of why it's a good idea to get a personal injury lawyer to get the settlement money you deserve.
Bicycle Accident Client
"Sally Morin and her team were instrumental in resolving my personal injury case (doored by a car while biking, resulting in spine and elbow injuries that required two surgeries). They held my hand as I traversed car insurance and personal health insurance claims over the course of two years. Sally, Lauren and co. worked tirelessly to resolve my case and protected my settlement to assure I recovered enough for future medical expenses related to my injury. Sally and her team will fight for your personal interests. I cannot recommend them enough."
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There are several reasons that insurance companies ask for your social security number in a personal injury case and want to have it on file, especially if you are opening a bodily injury claim related to a personal injury accident. Regardless of whether or not the injury is from a pedestrian, bicycle, motorcycle or auto accident case, they want this data on file so that the entire insurance industry has access to the details of your injuries for years to come. With just your social security number, an insurance adjuster is able to obtain a plethora of personal information about your life and your past, without your authorization or consent.
The information to which the insurance companies have access includes your medical, financial and criminal histories. This type of information can be very useful to an insurance adjuster or insurance company in the future should you be faced with another personal injury case, and they will have access to this information before you or your injury attorney have submitted one piece of information to the carrier.
The insurance industry is focused on minimizing the value of your claim(s), so this information about prior injuries and treatment can be very valuable to them on subsequent claims and they can contort it in whatever ways fit their objective. It is best to keep them from having free reign over this information. Do not give them your social security number!
Criminal, medical and financial information can provide an insurance adjuster with insight into your personal history. It can be a useful tool that enables the adjuster to find information that will diminish the value of your bodily injury case. What is even more disturbing is that your social security number allows an insurance adjuster to access a nationwide database called the Bodily Injury index.
Almost every insurance company in the United States has access to this index, which contains a list of all bodily injury claims opened with all insurance companies. It includes the specific details of those claims with the respective auto insurance companies, including information about the injuries, accident, and settlement amount. So, even if you had a really small personal injury case previously, the insurance adjuster can find out how much you settled it for. They will use that information as a factor to set limits on what they will pay in your current case, even if you suffered serious injuries in the current accident.
Because your social security number is a short and unique identifying piece of information, it makes it easy for an insurance adjuster to use it to search the index and identify your past bodily injury claims and personal injury cases. Since the information contained in the Bodily Injury index includes very specific information on your prior claims, an insurance adjuster can do a “look-up” in the database to see if you have ever had similar injuries to those you are claiming in your current personal injury case. Thus, providing your social security number to an insurance adjuster enables them to use your sensitive information to investigate previous claims and minimize any settlement that you might deserve in your current claim.
Even if you have had prior traffic accident injuries, it is best to allow your personal injury lawyer be the one who controls the information released to the insurance company (by only providing relevant information), rather than allowing the company access to everything compiled in the Bodily Injury Index.
In short, protect yourself from releasing this sensitive information by refusing to give your social security number in a personal injury case to any auto insurance company that requests it. Even if they tell you this disclosure is “required” to resolve your claim, you must refuse. You are not required to provide them with your social security number, despite the many reasons they will give you trying to convince you otherwise.
Rather, you or your personal injury attorney may provide them with other identifying information - such as your birth date - which will allow them to obtain the information necessary in order to open and process your bodily injury claim. This will allow you to go forward with a bodily injury claim against an insurance company, while at the same time safeguarding confidential and sensitive information, and to ensure that such information is not used to minimize your current bodily injury claim.
If you have an experienced personal injury lawyer, they should know the applicable law on this subject and help to protect you from unnecessary disclosure of your private information.