When an adjuster interviews a policyholder or claimant as part of a claim, certain factors can help verify
whether or not the information being
shared is really the truth.
Any interview should be non-accusatory
with a goal of gathering information about
the claim and the events that led up to it.
Sometimes an insured may not be entirely honest. Joseph Buckley, president
of the Chicago-based John E. Reid and
Associates Inc., shared some of the “tells”
that can indicate whether an interviewee
is telling the truth during the opening
keynote at the International Association
of Special Investigation Units 2016 Semi-nar in Las Vegas last month.
“A deceptive subject will often respond
by omission or evasion,” said Buckley. He
may also answer a question with a truth-
ful answer, just not the correct answer to
the question asked.
If a subject doesn’t answer the ques-
tion, Buckley recommends asking follow
up questions. “If they didn’t answer, they
didn’t mean to answer,” he added. “De-
ceptive people count on us to fill in the
blanks for them and frequently won’t say
The interviewer should use investigative
and behavior-provoking questions. How
they are answered can be illuminating.
For instance, when asking: “What should
happen to someone who set the building
on fire?” an innocent person will respond
that the individual should be punished, ar-
rested or suffer some sort of consequence.
A guilty person may look away and say he
really doesn’t know what should happen.
Buckley also said that just being silent
can be an effective way of drawing more
information out of a subject. He explained
that his investigators use note taking as a
reason to be purposefully quiet. “You want
silences during the interview. The subject
may add to his answer if he is uncomfortable and add something he didn’t intend
to say. Note taking gives you an excuse to
be busy and have a moment of silence.”
How and where the interview is con-
ducted is also important. Buckley recom-
mends against having any furniture such
as a table or desk between the interviewer
and the subject. “If you have a physical
barrier between you and the interviewee,
you can only see them from the waist
up,” explained Buckley, “and you can’t see
what their legs or feet are doing.”
He said sometimes anxiety shows up in
the lower part of the body during an in-
terview. If the mention of a person’s name
or an issue makes the subject uncomfort-
able and he bounces his leg or fidgets, the
interviewer should pursue that line of
Buckley recommended that the in-
terviewer minimize distractions as well.
“Make the interview as private as pos-
sible,” he added. It is also important that
the subject sit close to the door to remove
any perception that he is being detained
in any way.
The amount of space between the
subject and interviewer matters as well.
Buckley identified four different zones
surrounding an individual:
•;Intimate zone: within 1.5 ft of a person.
•;Personal zone: extending from 1.5 to 4. 5 ft.
•;Social zone: extending out 4. 5 to 12 ft.
•;Public zone: over 12 ft from a person.
The ideal distance between the interviewer and the interviewee should be
somewhere between 4. 5 and 5 feet — between the personal and social zones.
Listening goes beyond just what is said
to the content of the words used, as well
How to tell if Your Insured
is Being Honest
By Patricia L. Harman, PropertyCasualty360.com
ARMS OR SEEMING
AN INTERVIEW CAN BE
INDICATORS THAT AN
INTERVIEWEE IS NOT