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If you do not hire an attorney for your personal injury case you may be out of your depth when it comes to negotiating a settlement with an insurance adjuster. Insurance adjusters negotiate cases day in and day out. While it is never too late to get professional advice, follow these ten tips if you try it alone.
This is the most important tip for negotiating anything including personal injury actions. Remain calm and professional in all your interactions with the insurance adjuster. Crying, strong emotions and aggressive behavior will get you nowhere. It is best to stick to facts and keep a clear head.
Do not take the first settlement offer just to get the issue finished.
Some people do not like confrontation or dealing with the hassle of insurance agents and medical records. Most people would like their claim to settle as soon as possible. The insurance companies know this. If an insurance company offers a settlement early in the process without much prodding from the injured person, it is probably a rather low settlement offer. The insurance company is trying to make the injured party go away without a lot of hassle or money spent.
See the Insurance Company as a money-making enterprise.
Insurance companies are not charity organizations. They are usually large corporations concerned with the bottom line. Your insurance adjuster will have to justify any money he or she offers you to his or her superiors. Your argument to your insurance adjuster should stand up when he or she takes it up the chain.
Know your facts.
When it comes time to write a demand letter or talk settlement, know the facts of the case inside, outside, upside down, and backward. You don’t want to get mired in details you can’t remember. It will make your arguments seem less clear and less effective.
Read the Law.
Like the tip above, be knowledgeable. The insurance adjuster may assert that the insurance company does not have to cover the accident. If you know the law governing your accident type, you can argue liability and coverage much more clearly and efficiently.
Have your documents ready.
Insurance adjusters need documents which can be tangible proof of your claims. They need medical records, medical bills, police reports, witness statements, and any other document related to the accident. No one is going to take you at your word. Be prepared with proof.
Negotiate in writing whenever possible.
The first time you ask the insurance company for a settlement send a demand letter outlining the accident, who is at fault, and your claims to financial compensation. This helps you because it provides a written record of your request. Also, presenting your arguments in writing allows you time to think about and rework your arguments as necessary.
If you would like to reject a settlement offer, a letter is also the best way to do so. Remember that insurance companies love documents, and negotiating in writing creates a paper trail.
Be prepared to walk away.
You may have heard this piece of advice when you were buying a car. It applies in litigation as well. Insurance companies settle cases because they do not want to be sued. Litigation is expensive and time-consuming, not to mention bad press. Be clear that if you do not get a fair settlement from the insurance adjuster, you could take the company to court.
As in anything, you need to know when to quit. This insurance claim will not make you a millionaire or keep you from needing to work ever again. The settlement should be based on simple math. If the insurance company offers you a reasonable settlement, take it.
Negotiating against professional negotiators like an insurance adjuster can be intimidating. Do not be afraid to ask for professional help. Lawyers negotiate day in and day out too. You can always contact an attorney and ask if your settlement is reasonable.
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