Should I Sign an Authorization to Release Medical Records from the Insurance Company in my Car Accident?

A person signing a legal document.

If you have been injured in a car accident, and are dealing with the at-fault driver’s insurance company, then chances are the adjuster handling your claim has asked you to sign an Authorization to Release Medical Records.

On its face, it seems like a good idea to go ahead and sign the authorization. You have to get the records and bills anyway, right? Why not let the adjuster do the work for you? The insurance adjuster will make it sound like he needs them in order to pay you what you are entitled to. Unfortunately, this is far from the real truth of why he wants your medical records.

Here is the real reason the adjuster wants you to sign that medical authorization: Adjusters use medical authorizations to obtain a claimant’s past medical records completely unrelated to the car accident. Then the adjuster will use those past medical records as justification to make a low-ball settlement offer to resolve your claim.

Let’s look at an example. Jane Doe was recently in a car accident where she suffered a herniated disk in her lumbar spine. Five years prior to the car accident, Jane Doe was eight months pregnant and mentioned to her doctor she was having some low back pain. If she signed a medical authorization, the adjuster would be able to obtain Jane Doe’s past medical records from her OBGYN, and would inevitably use those past records as “proof” that Jane Doe’s herniated disk was a pre-existing condition, thus drastically reducing the settlement offer in her car accident claim.

Bottom line: We recommend you do not sign a medical authorization from the at-fault driver’s insurance company.