Being involved in a car accident is a serious matter. On top of the injuries sustained, you’ll need funds to cover medical expenses and lost wages. What can make it worse is if you do not have the money required to pay for all these costs.
This is where filing an insurance claim becomes essential. Because the system is adversarial, it’s important that you know how to negotiate with an insurance company to get the best settlement possible.
Here are some negotiating tips that can help maximize any settlement. Of course, in severe accidents, you should hire an attorney early on, because the top results always come with legal counsel.
6 Steps in Negotiating a Settlement with an Insurance Company
Being in a car accident comes with potentially substantial expenses. By having an insurance plan, settling the costs doesn’t have to be challenging. Here’s how to negotiate a settlement with an insurance company to help you cover the expenses from the accident.
1. File an insurance claim
For at-fault states like California, the person liable for the car accident is also responsible for the resulting losses, such as medical bills and property damages. In this case, you’ll have to file the injury claim with the at-fault party’s insurance provider.
2. Gather documentary evidence
Get details regarding the incident, such as photos of the scene, police reports, medical bills, and car repair estimates. Statements from witnesses can also help strengthen your insurance claim. Moreover, obtain the other party’s license plate number and insurance contact details. You’ll need this to prove your claim later on.
3. Estimate the value of your claim
When filing an insurance claim, contemplate a reasonable minimum amount. Do not share your estimate with the insurance adjuster, as they may make it the basis for your compensation.
Review your insurance coverage and assess all injuries sustained. Include everything with monetary value like lost wages, medical bills, and property damages. Then, send a demand letter, providing as many essential details about the incident as possible to make a compelling case.
4. Don’t accept the first offer
Normally, insurance claim adjusters will send back a low-ball offer. Don’t jump at the first offer you receive. Their purpose is to limit the extent of their liability. Often, they use the claimant’s lack of knowledge about the industry against them. Reject their first offer and make a counteroffer instead.
5. Make a counteroffer
You’ll have to defend your demand for fair compensation using all the evidence you’ve gathered. However, you’ll also need to keep an open mind so that the other party knows that you are willing to meet them halfway. There may be cases where the insurance adjuster brings up counterclaims, making your case weaker. In this instance, lowering your figures can help both parties reach a settlement.
6. Decide if you’ll accept or deny the final offer
When the final offer has been made, compare the amount to your estimated value and decide if the amount is reasonable enough to accept. A personal injury lawyer can help you assess the fairness of the offer. If both parties have reached an agreement, you have to confirm the terms with the insurance adjuster, including the settlement coverage and the date you expect to receive it.
9 Negotiating Tips and Techniques to Get the Best Accident Settlement Possible
Don’t let the insurance company talk you into agreeing to a less-than-reasonable offer. Use these tips and techniques on how to negotiate a settlement with an insurance claims adjuster to receive the best compensation possible.
1. Begin the process as soon as possible
If you have been involved in a car accident, you’ll have to file your claim as soon as possible. Take it up a notch and set a deadline for the insurance company to accept your offer in the demand letter. This will let them know that you mean business and won’t wait for the time to run out.
2. Follow through with the recommended medical treatments
The insurer may claim that you failed to uphold your responsibility of mitigating the injuries caused by the accident. Hence, they will lessen the compensation you’re entitled to. In this case, it’s best to follow all medical treatments recommended by your doctor.
Likewise, keep track of all medical documents related to the treatments. You can use these to prove that you’ve taken actions to minimize the effects of the accident.
3. Do your research
Never commence an insurance claim unprepared. As mentioned, insurance adjusters can take advantage of your lack of knowledge to compel you into taking a lower offer than what you deserve.
Study the at-fault party’s insurance coverage and how much your compensation is worth. Get all the relevant evidence to support your claim. By building a compelling case, you can prevent them from having the upper hand.
4. Clearly define your goals
Remember, your goal is to receive reasonable compensation for your injuries. Be direct with the insurance adjuster about what you’re willing and not willing to settle for. List down your non-negotiables and those you can compromise. This way, it will be easier for you to navigate the negotiation process.
5. Emphasize the strongest points in your favor
When making an insurance claim, focus on the strongest points of your case. List all treatment expenses and stress any long-term physical and emotional injuries resulting from the accident. Make sure to support your statements with the necessary documentary evidence, such as a physician’s note certifying you cannot work due to the injuries.
6. Be careful what you tell the adjuster
Insurance adjusters work for the insurance company and will try to downplay the severity of your injuries. You can be honest with them about what happened but watch your words. Make sure you don’t accidentally say something that will weaken your claim, like admitting you had some fault in the incident. Instead, you can emphasize the severity of the injuries sustained.
7. Ask open-ended questions
Asking open-ended questions will allow you to get a clear grasp of the circumstances surrounding your insurance claim. In turn, you can better prepare for the subsequent negotiations. Feel free to ask your insurance adjuster about anything you need clarification on. This way, both parties can be on the same page.
8. Manage your emotions
There will be times when negotiating gets frustrating. If that happens, use your emotional intelligence and keep your cool. Be aware of how you’re feeling, and don’t let it get in the way of rational discussions and decision-making.
9. Hire an attorney early
Knowledge is an advantage, and insurance adjusters understand the law in ways that you don’t. To help you out, hire an attorney early on, so you have someone to guide you through it. Having an expert on your side can help you secure the best offer possible.
Get the Best Insurance Settlement
Car accidents are a costly ordeal with all the medical expenses, lost wages, and property damages you have to deal with. To secure compensation for these costs, you must know how to file an insurance claim properly. Likewise, learning to negotiate with an insurance company is crucial to getting the compensation you deserve.
If you’re looking for a personal injury attorney to help with your insurance claim, RMD Law has a team of experienced lawyers ready for the tireless representation you deserve. Contact us for a free case evaluation today!