If there is always one thing you can count on, it is that insurance companies will come in low with the initial offer. Their hope is to keep the case as short and sweet as possible by putting an attractive enough offer on the table to end the case as soon as possible. They know, in most cases, the longer the case goes on, the more it is going to cost. On your part, however, even though that offer may look attractive, it is probably far lower than you actually deserve or can win in court. Knowing when to accept an offer for an injury is crucial.
Stay Calm and Remain Polite
If you get lowballed by an insurance company, losing your cool is not going to help matters. Even if you know the representative is trying to get over on you, remain calm and be polite when discussing the settlement. Besides, most of us do not think straight when we lose our temper, and that is one thing you cannot afford to do as this process plays out.
Ask a Lot of Questions
If the offer is far lower than you thought you were going to get, start trying to find out the thought process behind the offer. Why was the case evaluated to present this offer? What were the biggest contributing factors that led to the offer? Asking questions such as this may lead to the discovery that the insurance company did not have all the information that would have led to a bigger offer.
For instance, perhaps you left out personal property damage or did not include an expected extended recovery period by the doctors, which leads to not only more medical bills but also more lost wages.
Presenting Your Evidence
If you believe the offer is low, you will need to go back over your documentation to ensure the company has all the facts to make a reasonable offer. Gather all your medical bills, lost wages, personal property damage assessment, doctor’s notes, etc., and make sure they jibe with the information the insurance company has reviews. As mentioned above, the offer they gave may have been based without key information that could dramatically change the offer.
Give Response in Writing
The worst thing you can do is rely solely on oral communications when dealing with insurance companies. Everything that happens needs to be documented, including phone conversations. If any oral communication takes place, recap it in an email and make sure you save copies of all written communications to back up your case.
This includes turning down an initial settlement offer. If that happens, recap the initial settlement offer and note why you disagree and are turning down that offer. You can also include a counter-offer if you like, with your reasoning behind seeking the additional money.
Avoid Common Insurance Tactics
As we touched on above, the insurance company will want to get out of this case with the least possible damage. Their insurance adjusters are very skilled at using techniques to deceive plaintiffs and getting them to accept far less than the case is actually worth. Some of these common bad-faith tactics are:
- Denying a claim without reason
- Offering an extremely low settlement
- Claiming they only have the “authority” to offer up to a specific threshold
- Needlessly delaying the case by refusing to answer your calls
Without an attorney to represent you, you can expect the insurance company to play as dirty as possible to get the lowest possible settlement.
Something else you may want to keep in mind, and that was also mentioned above, is that to be truly sure you are getting a fair settlement, do not even consider accepting an offer until you are fully healed. If you accept an offer early, this plays right into the hands of the insurance company.
Anyone that has been injured knows there can be unexpected challenges that occur during recovery. It could be something as simple as extended therapy due to a slow recovery to the injury impacting other areas of the body, which leads to even more physical problems. For that reason, be sure you are fully recovered or, at the very least, your doctor gives you a definitive thumbs up on when you can expect to return to normal.
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Taryn J. White is a legal research specialist and Injury law news reporter. Her current accomplishments include helping those facing any injuries from vehicle accidents, workplace accidents, and medical malpractice.