It’s stressful enough to be involved in an accident, and then you realize that you will need to have a plan for a successful settlement. The bottom line, however, is that you need to have a definite strategy in place in order to be properly compensated for damages and injuries. Here are seven tips to help you get started:
1.Know Your Offer Amount – But Be Flexible
The first thing you need to do is figure out how much you think your claim is worth. This needs to be decided upon before you speak to an adjuster or write a settlement demand letter. While this is just for your own knowledge, having a number in mind can help you stay on track when you enter into discussions with an adjuster. If his or her offer is not close to that minimum amount that you decided upon, you can let the adjuster know and ask for an explanation.
Keep in mind that an adjuster may give you advice regarding why your minimum amount is too high, and you may learn that your claim is too weak for that amount. On the other hand, it’s possible that you will find evidence that strengthens your claim, in which case you may want to increase the figure. Stay flexible, but have an amount in mind as a starting place.
2. Don’t Be Intimidated by the Adjuster
Oftentimes, insurance adjusters will begin by offering you a very low amount for your settlement, or he or she may even tell you that you that you aren’t eligible to receive any settlement at all. Adjusters will test the waters to see if you actually understand your claim and what it might be worth. He or she is also trying to find out if you will settle for less money if you are promised to get it quicker. Knowledge is power in these situations, so always stay one step ahead of the adjuster if possible.
Also, never forget that adjusters work for insurance companies, and they will use whatever tactic they can to pay you less money. If they offer a settlement that you feel is fair but lower than you expected, you can offer to come down a bit. This will show the adjuster that you are willing to negotiate. By bargaining in this manner, you should eventually come to a conclusion that is satisfactory to both parties.
3. Ask for Explanations for Lower Offers
If you come up with a fair amount for the settlement, and the adjuster won’t negotiate, you will need to ask for an explanation. Is the adjuster trying to bluff you, or are there legitimate reasons for the lower offer? If you still feel that the offer is too low, make a note of each point and write a letter addressing each factor, explaining why you feel that the adjuster’s offer is too low. Once you send that letter, wait for a reply and when you speak again, ask for a response to the letter. It’s possible that the adjuster will now begin to negotiate with you and you may be able to come to an agreement.
4. Don’t Be Afraid to Mention the Emotional Aspects of the Claim
As you begin negotiating, don’t hesitate to bring up emotional areas of the incident that can help support your claim. There are many ways to do this, but the bottom line is to bring up factors that can help persuade an adjuster to settle on the claim. Some examples might be a picture of your injury or your totaled car, the fact that other accidents have also occurred at that particular location, or the fact that your child is now scared to get into a car. These aren’t items with an exact value, but they help make the case more real to the insurance company by seeing things from an emotional point of view.
5. Wait Patiently for an Answer from the Adjuster
One of the best ways to receive a reasonable settlement amount is to be patient. When people become impatient, they often settle on a lower offer just to get their settlement faster. However, in order to be most successful, you have to play the game, and that means waiting. Don’t reduce your offer amount until you hear from the adjuster, and you should continue to follow that system until an agreement is made. You deserve an answer each time you counteroffer, and although a counterclaim may take some time, you can keep bargaining until you receive a reasonable offer.
6. Talk to an Attorney
People are sometimes hesitant to speak with an attorney, but in these types of situations, you may find it very helpful. Bryan Folger at Folger Law Firm in Phoenix, Arizona can help you know your rights. Here are some examples of when you should consider contacting an attorney:
- Your settlement consists of several thousands of dollars, and you have incurred serious injuries, pain, and suffering. Adjusters likely won’t even consider a fair settlement of this proportion without the aid of an attorney.
- Your settlement includes claims for future damages due to loss of income or the cost of treatment. An attorney can help you work with the insurance company for these types of claims.
- Fault has not been determined. You may need an attorney to help you prove the validity of your claim if that is a question. He or she can stand with you to formulate a sound defense.
7. Confirm the Settlement on Paper
Once you come to an agreement with an adjuster, make sure that the information is communicated in a letter to the adjuster. Be sure and add important information such as the settlement offer amount, the dates of the agreement, and when the settlement will be made.
Contact Folger Law Firm today to see how we can help you with your settlement. We offer a free, no-obligation consultation in order to learn more about your claim and how we can assist you. Contact us today!