How to Negotiate with an Insurance Company
Negotiating with insurance companies is often a daunting task, especially if you have been injured in an accident and are struggling with medical bills, property damage, and missed work. Further complicating matters is that insurance companies are highly experienced in minimizing your claim, and they have a full arsenal of tactics to make the process as convoluted for you as possible.
Consider the two broad topics that will be at issue: liability and damages.
“Liability” is a broad term used to refer to who is at fault for the incident. “Damages” is the broad term used to describe the way in which you were harmed, with examples including medical costs, lost wages, physical impairment, disfigurement, mental anguish, and pain.
Remember: liability and damages are separate issues. Just because the adjuster accepts liability for the incident does not mean they will pay for all of your damages or value them in the same way as you.
Dealing with Insurance Adjusters
It's important to understand what you are up against. Adjusters do not have to treat you nicely or fairly. They are trained to sense weaknesses and to use them to achieve a more favorable settlement for the insurance company. It is perfectly legal for them to pay you less than what you deserve for your injuries—in fact, it is their job.
After gathering all the documents and evidence for your case, create what is known as a demand letter. This letter should lay out the facts of your claim, including the relevant facts on liability and damages, and make a demand for a certain amount of money to settle the claim.
The adjuster will usually respond to your demand by indicating that there are problems with the case or trying to show that they know more about the situation or injuries than you do. They will probably tell you that your case has little to no value, or at least much less than you demanded. Moreover, they will typically argue about the costs of the medical treatment and whether the treatment was necessary, or suggest that a doctor made a mistake or that time off work was not required. Oftentimes, the adjuster will ask for more information. This may occur multiple times.
Adjusters have different styles that they have found successful. Some try to be your friend and explain how they are “helping you out,” while others are more aggressive and may attack the validity of your claims. Some adjusters may say that their offer will only be available for a limited time, in order to pressure you.
It may be in your best interest to hire a lawyer or file a lawsuit. Most adjusters are unlikely to take a threat of a lawsuit seriously if you do not have an attorney. If your case is small, then you might be able to file in small claims court and handle it without legal representation.
Delay, Delay, Delay
In many cases, these tactics by adjusters are designed to delay the settlement. They do this for many reasons. They may try to test your resolve or see if you understand the process. They may want to evaluate you as a potential witness and thereby your risk to them at trial. They want to see if you are impatient enough to take a low offer or intimidated enough to believe their rebuttals. Mainly, they want to see how serious you are and how far you will go with the claim, including whether you will file a lawsuit.
It’s important not to overreact to the adjuster’s points. This can even be difficult for attorneys at times, but it’s best to politely thank the adjuster for the counteroffer and briefly explain why you disagree with the points of their rebuttal. Tell the adjuster that you will review the offer and get back to them after you have thought it over.
Take some time to really consider the points the adjuster has made and whether they are supported by your evidence. You may have to reduce your demand in order to continue the negotiating process.
It is crucial that you never bid against yourself. Primarily, that means do not call the adjuster to make a counter-demand until you receive a firm offer. The adjusters will intentionally avoid your calls and delay getting back to you in an attempt to frustrate you into bidding against yourself.
The negotiations will continue with offers and counteroffers and a continual discussion of each of your beliefs concerning the strengths and weaknesses of the claim. This goes until you either reach a figure that you can both live with or you reach an impasse where neither of you are willing to move anymore.
In order to know when you will reach your point, think ahead about a bottom-line figure. This is the lowest value you will take to resolve the claim. This is not an amount you should ever tell the adjuster. If you cannot get this amount, then you must be prepared to file a lawsuit, which will mean either retaining an attorney or filing it yourself in small claims court. Although you can file a case pro se, or without a lawyer, in higher courts, that is typically not advised because the rules of evidence and procedure are strictly adhered to in those courts.
Get Help Negotiating with the Insurance Companies Today
If you were injured in an accident, you may need an experienced personal injury lawyer to help guide you through the process. The attorneys at Zinda Law Group have negotiated with all of the major insurance companies and have experience handling many different types of cases. Call 888-988-7063 today to receive a free consultation. Meetings with attorneys by appointment only.