Most insurance companies have a template of questions (recorded statement guide) for taking recorded statements, which is very useful. Even the most experienced statement takers can forget important questions in the heat of the moment. Moreover, having a template helps you learn from experience. If, for example, you discover later that you should have asked if there was a hide-a-key on the car, you can add that question to your template for future use. Having a template allows you to go “off script” when you need to, and come back later to where you left off.
- Make sure to remove all distractions before taking the statement, such as noisy children, barking dogs, and cell phones.
- Check to make sure that the recording device is working, has batteries if needed, and picks up both sides of the conversation.
- Although responses are sometimes needed, avoid comments or unnecessary conversation when you can.
- Use open-ended questions, such as “what happened next?” in the important areas and then follow-up with specific questions based on the response.
- Consider if your question could be misinterpreted. If you ask the insured to list the “big” items, are you asking for items that are large in size or expensive in price?
- When you receive a vague answer, offer ranges in your follow-up question and use events to tie down dates. Did you return in the morning, afternoon, or evening? Was it before or after dinner? Was it dark outside?
- Listen to how the person sounds. Does his or her level of emotion seem appropriate to the situation? This can vary with the individual but is sometimes a guide.
- Remember that the insured should be doing most of the talking.
- Don’t be afraid of pauses—allowing the person to pause without interruption often will lead the witness to expand upon the topic or fact under discussion.