Negotiating a personal injury settlement is a bit like haggling over something at an outdoor market where haggling is common. You and the buyer (the insurance adjuster) know approximately how much an item is worth (your damages). you know how much you’re willing to accept for it, and the adjuster knows how much the insurance company is willing to pay. but neither knows how much the other party is willing to pay or receive. so they go through a process of testing each other, a dance of bragging and bragging that goes like this, sometimes in just two or three phone calls:
- Ask for a high amount in your written demand letter.
- the insurance adjuster tells you what’s wrong with your claim; for example, there are questions about who was at fault or if his lengthy physical therapy seems excessive.
- you respond to these arguments.
- The adjuster makes a low counter offer to see if you are in a hurry to accept the settlement amount.
- you concede a little on the adjuster’s arguments and make another demand a little lower than the one in your demand letter.
- the insurance adjuster increases the company’s offer.
- either accept that amount or make another counterclaim.
Usually, it’s as simple as that. The main factors that determine how an accident settlement turns out are how well you’ve prepared all stages of your claim (investigation, supporting documents, and demand letter), how much you’re willing to accept, and whether you’re in a hurry to settle. .
negotiation issues with an adjuster
During negotiations, an insurance adjuster has the right to ask questions and dispute facts in an attempt to limit your right to compensation. questions or disputes may refer to:
coverage. if the insurance policy in question actually covers the accident.
responsibility. who was at fault for the accident and their potential negligence party.
the extent of your injuries. whether an injury was disabling or had a permanent long-term effect.
The nature and extent of medical treatment. Whether the type and duration of the procedures or therapies were medically necessary and whether you had pre-existing conditions that contributed to the losses (damages) claimed.
You must respond to an adjuster’s reasonable questions and inquiries with reasonable responses. But some questions and arguments are not legitimate and could be construed as unfair settlement tactics designed to get you to settle the case for less than it’s worth.
keys to successful injury claim negotiation
How you proceed during settlement negotiations can go a long way toward making the process go smoothly and quickly, with minimal stress or inconvenience to you, and a satisfactory settlement as a result. Here are some basic rules on how to deal with a claims adjuster. (See more tips for negotiating with an insurance company.)
Be organized. If you have a conversation with the adjuster, make a note of what was said. If you or the adjuster have said you will or won’t do a certain thing, or that something will happen on a certain date, write a confirmation letter and send it to the adjuster. keep a copy of everything you send. if you have agreed to provide information to the adjuster, please do so immediately.
Be patient. Although you may have already had to wait a significant amount of time to get all of your medical and income records, try not to be in too much of a rush to settle your claim. One of the tactics claims adjusters use is to make a low initial settlement offer and see if you are too impatient to continue negotiating. if you can bear to wait, don’t jump at a first offer. waiting a while often increases your payout. after some time passes, it will be the adjuster who will want to settle your claim as soon as possible, and then you will be able to get the full value of your claim.
Be persistent. The flip side of being patient is being persistent. don’t let the adjuster keep your claim. If the adjuster has said he or she will do something, like make another offer or consult with a supervisor, get a specific date to do it. Put everything agreed upon in a confirmation letter, and when that date arrives, call and politely ask for a response. If you have requested information or a new settlement offer, set a reasonable deadline for receiving a response. don’t bother an adjuster by calling them every day, but make sure the adjuster knows you’re there and will follow up on your claim regularly and thoroughly.
Stay calm and direct. Insurance adjusters are overworked and underpaid, and they hear a lot of stories every day. They’re also human, which means they don’t respond well to abuse or threats. Even if you do get an inconsiderate or unfriendly adjuster, stay calm and don’t get into a personal battle. Your job is simply to show the adjuster that you know how the process works and that your claim is honest. let the adjuster know that you believe the facts he has presented. avoid high emotions. If you show the adjuster that you are filing a claim in good faith, you will likely receive a good faith settlement offer in return.
Get details on what to do when personal injury settlement negotiations fail.
learn more about how to settle your injury claim
For more details on how to negotiate an insurance claim, including sample letters to insurance companies, tips for handling negotiations, and strategies for dealing with an insurance company that refuses to make a good offer, see how win your personal injury claim, al jose l. matthew (nolo).