Before you begin to negotiate with the insurance company, you should calculate both the value of your case, and the minimum amount of settlement you will accept. Your minimum amount should at least cover your medical bills. You should never tell the adjuster what the minimum amount you will settle for is. This will only hinder your negotiations.
Beginning the Negotiations
After you have calculated the worth of your case you are going to want to initiate negotiations with the insurance company. Typically negotiations are conducted via phone conference. The insurance adjuster will begin by countering your initial demand with a lower amount. This amount is hardly ever a fair settlement. However, the adjuster has to provide justifications pertaining to the low offer. Adjusters will do their best to get you to settle for as little as possible.
You may counter their offers as many times as you would like by lowering your original settlement request in small increments. However, you must provide justification for every counter offer you make. This will demonstrate to the adjuster that you are willing to negotiate and that you are doing your best to be reasonable. Negotiations will continue in this manner until you reach a compromise. Keep in mind this process may take several phone calls, so don’t be discouraged if your case isn’t settled after the first phone call.
Reservation of Rights Letter
You may receive a “reservation of rights” letter, once you begin negotiations, from the insurance company. This letter is standard practice when conducting settlement negotiations.
This letter states the insurance company has not yet accepted any liability and is currently investigating your claim. The purpose of this procedure is to protect the insurance company from fraudulent claims being made against their insured. Further, just because you have begun to negotiate, you aren’t necessarily going to be paid by the insurance company. If their investigation concludes that you were at-fault, or shared a portion of the blame, you may lose claim on their insured, and therefore not receive any compensation.
How Your Speech Can Impact Your Case
Throughout negotiations be sure to emphasize the strong points of your case, including the emotional points. You should make reference to the fact that you didn’t ask for this, and provide evidence as to the effect this accident has had on your everyday life. Although it isn’t easy to assign a monetary value to emotional turmoil, talking about them will help convince the adjuster that your case is worth the compensation you have requested.
However, you should be careful with the things that you say to the adjuster as even a simple phrase can damage the value of your claim. You should avoid statements of well-being as adjusters will use your words against you in order to reduce your settlement. Thus, it is vital that you stick to the facts of your case, and remain neutral.
You should also avoid making statements that are against your interest, especially at the scene of the accident. This means avoiding phrases that assign blame to you, or that minimize the damages done to you or your possessions.
Don’t be overly friendly with the insurance adjuster; you should be polite but you need to remember the insurance adjuster is not your friend. You must be firm and believe that you deserve full compensation for your claim.
Don’t lie, and don’t exaggerate. If the adjuster discovers you have lied or are exaggerating, anything you say will be regarded with suspicion. In order to have a successful negotiation, it is important to establish an honest rapport with the insurance adjuster.
Be aware of medical release forms. This form will allow the insurance adjuster to access your medical history. If your medical history involves any chronic disorders or recent pain visits, the adjuster may use it as justification to lower your settlement. Before you sign this document, you can, and should, change the dates the adjusters are able to access. This way, the adjusters will only be able to see relevant information, and will not be able to use previous injuries against you. Further, do not discuss any pre-existing conditions with your insurance adjuster as this may negatively impact your settlement offer.
Finishing up the Negotiation Process
When you complete your negotiations, confirm your agreement in a letter to the insurance adjuster. This letter should state the amount that you settled on, the injuries or damages that the settlement will cover, and the date you expect to receive the settlement documents from the insurance company.
When you Should Seek the Help of a Professional
Some cases are possible to settle on your own. However, if you find that your case is too complex to navigate on your own, or if the adjuster is unwilling to fairly negotiate with you, you should consider hiring a lawyer. Attorneys are experts in state law and can help you navigate the complexities of your case.
Were you or someone you know involved in a recent auto accident? Call Auto Accident Care Network now at 801-683-1948 to connect with a live care advocate. Our team at AACN can connect you to trusted attorneys and doctors to schedule a free legal consultation, a free thirty-minute massage, and a no-cost medical exam!