If you find yourself with any type of personal injury claim or get into a car accident, you will likely need to talk to at least one insurance company. Whether you are filing a claim against your own insurance policy or against another at-fault driver’s policy, there are a few things you should know before attempting to negotiate with any insurance companies. Here’s an easy to follow step by step guide to help you negotiate your settlement with an insurance claims adjuster. For more information regarding negotiations with adjusters, consult a skilled Salt Lake City car accident lawyer.
- Start With an Initial Demand Letter
- Negotiating with Claim Adjusters
- Prepare for Counter Settlement Offers
- Be Honest When Answering Adjuster’s Question
- Have Strong Evidence with You
1. Start With an Initial Demand Letter
The claimant’s initial demand letter is the beginning of the negotiations process with an insurer. An attorney can help a claimant prepare this letter or he or she may send it personally. The strength of this letter can greatly influence the insurance company’s decision regarding the claim, so it’s wise to have an attorney review your demand letter before sending it. Your demand letter should include detailed descriptions of your claimed damages, their values, and an explanation of which party is liable for the damages. For example, if you file a claim against an at-fault driver’s insurance policy, your letter should explain why the policyholder is liable for your damages.
Your demand letter should also include the full scope of your damages, including medical expenses, property damage, and lost income. If you live in a state that follows a no-fault rule for car accidents, you will need to provide all the reasons your claim is exempt from this statute. Finally, your letter should end with a clear demand for a lump sum that covers your damages.
2. Negotiating with Claim Adjusters
Insurance companies are in business to make money. They make a profit by collecting premium payments from policyholders, and they lose money when they have to pay out on claims. Insurance companies thoroughly investigate all claims to ensure they fall within policy guidelines. It’s wise to assume an insurance company will look for any reason it can find to low-ball, delay, or deny your claim. Having a strong initial demand letter may show the insurer you know your rights and increase your chances of minimizing pushback, but it is still likely a claims adjuster will investigate your claim.
3. Prepare for Counter Settlement Offers
If the insurer counters your initial demand letter with a counteroffer, you can choose to accept or reject this offer. Try not to accept the first offer right off the bat. If you need assistance negotiating a better offer an attorney can help you determine the benefits of pursuing additional compensation or whether the insurance company’s first offer is fair. If you do not accept the counteroffer, the insurance company will likely send an agent to investigate the details of your claim. Insurance adjusters receive training in body language and may ask to record your conversation. It’s important to have an attorney prepare you for this interview, if possible.
4. Be Honest When Answering Adjuster’s Questions
Prepare to answer the claim adjuster’s questions honestly and concisely but refrain from offering more information than requested. Some adjusters will remain silent after letting you answer a question; this is a conversational tactic that encourages you to keep talking to break the awkward silence. Remember, the adjuster is looking for any reason to deny your claim or reduce your settlement amount, so he or she is likely waiting for you to say something that contradicts your claim or conflicts with your provided evidence.
5. Have Strong Evidence with You
Always have documented accident-related evidence with you or with your attorney when negotiating a better settlement claim. This includes:
- Medical records
- Medical evaluations
- Comparable/similar cases
- Accident reports
When choosing your evidence to show to you insurance claim adjuster, an attorney could help you find the most relevant and effective pieces of key evidence.
You should understand the insurance company’s position once the adjuster finishes investigating your claim. An insurance claim is about a fair settlement, not getting rich, so it’s important to keep your expectations realistic. Not only can an injury attorney help you navigate the insurance claim process but also handle adjusters and provide a well-written initial demand letter that strengthens your claim. A lawyer can also help you determine whether an insurer’s settlement offer is fair and help you decide the best course of action for your claim.