Insurance companies are notorious for undervaluing claimant’s damages when offering insurance settlements. It is generally an insurance company’s goal to save money and convince the claimant to settle for as little as possible – not to maximize the claimant’s recovery. It is the claimant’s job, therefore, to negotiate with the insurance company for a fairer amount. Use these tips for how to negotiate an insurance settlement to improve your odds of obtaining maximum recovery.
Report Your Accident Right Away
The first action you can take to optimize the value of your insurance claim is to report your accident to the insurer as soon as possible. Most insurance companies have rules in place that require prompt reporting. Waiting too long could hurt your ability to recover damages at all, much less to negotiate a fair settlement. Follow all the rules for dealing with an injury and reporting your claim. This includes seeking medical attention, following the doctor’s orders, and providing the insurance company with all necessary information and documentation.
Prepare Before the Claims Adjuster’s Follow-Up Call
Since Colorado is a fault car insurance state, you will file your report with the at-fault party’s insurer if you’ve been in a car accident. If you’re negotiating a settlement for something other than a car accident, you’ll still contact the at-fault party’s insurance company to initiate the claims process. It is the at-fault person’s responsibility to pay for your damages under civil law.
Someone called a claims adjuster or claims analyst will generally call you from the at-fault party’s insurance company to gather more information about your accident. Before you answer a call from a claims adjuster, prepare yourself for a potentially difficult conversation. The adjuster will ask you questions and seek details about what happened. The law does not obligate you to agree to give a recorded statement, so politely decline to do so.
A claims adjuster can use what you say in your statement against you. Keep in mind during your conversation that the claims adjuster probably knows less about your case than you do. Keep your answers short, factual, and honest. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to a claims adjuster, hire an attorney to do so for you.
Don’t Say Yes to the First Settlement Offer
One of the keys to remember in insurance claim settlement negotiation is to say no to the first offer. The first offer is almost never as high as the insurance company is willing to go. Insurance companies offer low initial offers because they know many accident victims won’t discuss their rights with a lawyer or learn the true value of their claims. Many claimants will agree to the first offer without realizing they have the power to negotiate a higher amount. Ignore an adjuster that says it is the “top” or “final” offer. Talk to a lawyer before saying yes.
Negotiate Using Strong Evidence
The strength of your settlement negotiation lies in your accident-related evidence and documentation. Argue for a higher amount using your medical records, evaluations from medical experts, comparable cases, and police reports. Having evidence of your losses available to show the insurance company can improve your odds of getting a higher settlement offer. A lawyer can help you find and preserve key pieces of evidence.
Hire an Attorney to Negotiate for You
You don’t have to negotiate your insurance settlement on your own. After an accident, hire a lawyer to represent you during settlement negotiations. Using an attorney during negotiations can greatly improve the odds of convincing an insurance company to offer more.
Insurers will often boost the value of their offers when they find out claimants have hired lawyers, in an attempt to avoid going to trial. Most personal injury lawyers operate on a contingency fee basis, meaning you won’t pay attorney’s fees unless they get you a monetary award.