Regardless of the type of accident you were involved in, once you’ve submitted a demand letter to an insurance company it will be time to negotiate with them.
Whether you have been injured in a car accident, sustained a personal injury, or you’d like to claim for insurance after medical malpractice, you will need to understand the negotiation process so you have a better chance of getting your side of the story across.
Once you have sent an insurance company your demand letter your negotiation is likely to involve making a few telephone calls with one of the insurance companies claims adjusters. Let’s take a look at how to start the negotiation process:
How to Start Negotiating with an Insurance Company
The very first step you need to take involves calling the insurance adjuster. During the telephone call, you will both discuss the strengths and weaknesses of your claim. Once these have been discussed the adjuster may then make you an offer to settle your claim. Please note that the offer they make will be lower than the settlement figure you gave. Here is where you step in and offer a figure that is higher than the adjuster’s figure, but lower than your original settlement figure. It is highly unlikely that you will come to an agreement during the very first negotiation, but you may do so two to three telephone calls later.
Receiving a ‘Reservation of Rights’ Letter
The insurance company may send you a ‘Reservation of rights’ letter, stating that they have begun investigating your claim and that they reserve the right not to pay you anything if it is found that the accident is not covered under the insurance policy. Please do not be alarmed by this letter, the insurance company uses it to protect themselves from you, should you claim that their insurance policy covers your accident simply because settlement negotiations have begun.
Consider what your Settlement Figure may be
If you have already written your demand letter, you should have already decided how much you think your claim is worth. Now you will need to consider the minimum amount of money you will accept.
If you have not already considered your settlement figure, it would be wise for you to give the insurance company a figure that is higher than the amount you think your claim is worth. In general, you should ideally demand a figure that is 75-100% higher than the amount of money that you would be pleased with.
Now it’s time to consider the minimum amount of money you will accept, but please refrain from telling the adjuster what this figure is. You do not have to stick to the minimum figure, it can be made higher or lower depending on any points that the adjuster makes. If at any time the adjuster offers you a figure that is close to or identical to your minimum settlement figure you may want to think about making that figure larger, as you may be offered more.
Do Not Accept the First Offer That is Made
You may find it tempting to accept the very first offer that the insurance company makes, however, this could be a mistake. In some circumstances, an insurance adjuster may offer you a lower figure so that they can determine whether you know what you’re doing. However, if the offer seems quite reasonable but is still too low again, you may want to think about refusing it.
On occasion, insurance adjusters offer figures that are quite reasonable, if this is the case you may want to make a counteroffer that is slightly lower than the original amount that you made in your demand letter. This will show the adjuster that you are willing to compromise and after a little more negotiation you could come to a settlement figure that both you and the adjuster think is fair.
Ask for Justification of a Low Offer
If and when an insurance adjuster makes a low offer, rather than reducing your original offer (The figure that you placed in your demand letter) ask the adjuster why their offer is low. If you are given reasons as to why the figure is low, please make a note of them, and then contact the insurance company with your response to the reasons they gave you.
If you find that the insurance adjusters reasons are quite strong, you may want to lower your demand a little, however, try not to lower it too much as the adjuster may amend their figure upon receipt of your reply. The next time you talk to the adjuster ask for a response to the letter that you sent, here the adjuster may make you a more reasonable offer, allowing you to start negotiating that figure too.
Make it Clear what your Strongest Points are
During the negotiations, you may be tempted to reiterate exactly what happened during your accident. However, now is the time to place emphasis on the aspects of your claim that you think are the strongest. For example, if you think someone else was completely at fault, that you have had to pay medical bills, and you’re in a lot of pain, now is a good time to talk about this.
You may also want to point out any emotional effects that your accident has had. For example, any photographs of your injuries, if your children were injured, how upset you have been about the accident etc. Although it is hard to put a monetary value on emotional aspects, mentioning the emotional effects could help to settle your claim.
Confirming the Agreement
Once you have come to an agreement as to how much the settlement figure should be, you should confirm the agreement in writing to the insurance adjuster. The letter does not need to be very long, it can simply state the agreed amount, and list the damages or injuries that the settlement covers. In the letter, you should also mention when you would like to receive the settlement documents that the insurance company will be sending you.
Whether you have been injured in a car accident, sustained a personal injury, or you’d like to claim for insurance after medical malpractice, knowing how to negotiate with an insurance company could help you get a settlement figure you’re pleased with.
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