Dealing with an insurance company following a car accident is often a back-and-forth process. It usually begins when you send a demand letter to the insurer, which describes the accident in detail and provides an accounting of your damages. The insurance company will then conduct its own investigation and reply with a settlement offer.
An offer is just that–a proposal to settle. You are under no legal obligation to accept the insurance company’s first offer. Indeed, in many cases it is not in your best interests to settle immediately. Remember, insurance companies deal with thousands of accident claims every year. They are quite adept at low-balling initial settlement offers, knowing that many accident victims will simply accept any amount of money offered.
Responding in a Firm, But Respectful Manner
So what do you do if the insurer offers you less than you think your claim is worth? The first thing you should do is stop and take a deep breath. Keep in mind, a low offer is not a personal insult. From the insurance company’s standpoint, this is just business. Of course, from your perspective it’s personal–you have bills to pay and need money right now.
But the worst thing you can do in response a low settlement offer is reply in anger. Negotiating with an insurance company is not like arguing with someone on Twitter. Personal insults and inflammatory statements will not convince the insurance company to increase their offer.
Instead, you need to carefully craft a written response that firmly–but respectfully–states your position. Always keep in mind that this is a negotiation, not a battle to the death. This does not mean that emotion should play no role in your response. To the contrary, in replying to a low offer, you can (and should) emphasize the extent of your own pain and suffering following an accident. These kinds of non-economic injuries are inherently difficult to quantify, but you can provide the insurance company with specific examples of how the accident has left you unable to enjoy certain aspects of your life.
Indeed, your reply letter should clarify any factual discrepancies contained in the insurer’s settlement offer. This applies not just to your injuries but the underlying cause of the accident itself. Insurance adjusters are often quick to try and shift blame to you, especially if they represent another driver. So in replying to an offer, it is critical to deny your own liability and point to any facts that contradict the insurer’s account of what happened.
Skilled Personal Injury Attorneys Can Help
It may take several rounds of offers and counteroffers before you are able to successfully resolve an insurance claim. If handing an extended negotiation sounds overwhelming to you–especially when you are still recovering from an accident–it may be in your best interests to hire a qualified personal injury lawyer to deal with the insurance company on your behalf. The personal injury attorneys at RMD Law are skilled negotiators who know how to deal with insurers. Contact us today if you have been in an accident and need immediate assistance on how to proceed with your insurance claim.