Negotiating with an insurance company over a personal injury claim without legal representation is a risky business. That’s because the insurance company will certainly have legal representatives and might require that you sign materials before explaining to you what you are signing.
Or during phone calls, the insurance adjuster might try to trap you with certain questions or leading statements that lull you into believing the insurance company has your best interests at heart when they really don’t.
So before you begin negotiating with an insurance company regarding a settlement, memorize these five important negotiation tips and tactics.
1. Stay Guarded About What You Say
On initial phone calls, the insurance adjuster might seem like they are really focused on helping you get better. They’ll ask important questions about the accident, act concerned, and offer their take on things.
Even on the first call, the adjuster might offer you a settlement. You should be very wary of early settlement offers. These are often low-ball offers designed to get you to settle fast and for as little money as possible.
Watch what you say on the call and never claim that you were not injured or that you know the full extent of your expenses yet. You should only answer the questions you have to and you should have an attorney present for all conversations.
2. Calculate Your Accident Expenses Carefully Before Beginning Settlement Negotiations
Before you begin talking about dollars and cents or the value of your claim with the insurance company, you should begin calculating your expenses from the accident. This should include the following:
- Expenses from medical bills (but only once your doctor has signed off that your treatment plan is complete. Otherwise, wait to negotiate a settlement until you have to).
- Property damage, such as your car if it was a car accident or your smartphone that got smashed in a slip and fall accident.
- Missed work. This is a little harder to calculate since it factors in overtime pay based on the average for what you earn in a year.
- Lost future earning capacity in case you end up with a long-term ailment or disability.
- Pain and suffering. This is the most challenging line item for individuals to calculate when considering a settlement with the insurance agency and the area of compensation where it’s best to have an attorney calculate carefully.
3. Don’t Be Afraid to Propose a Counter Settlement Offer
Once you’ve carefully calculated your accident expenses, you’re ready to propose a settlement. Don’t decrease the value just hoping that the insurance company accepts it. You know your value and the inconvenience and expense that the accident caused you. Don’t be afraid to negotiate for it.
And you might want to increase your settlement offer a bit above the amount you actually want to leave room for negotiating. You can come down on your settlement offer based on what the insurance company says.
4. Before Releasing Your Claim, Read It Carefully
Signing off on a claim is a serious matter. Don’t take it lightly. Read every line thoroughly and evaluate what you’re signing. Don’t be so eager to complete your claim that you sign materials that are unwise or not in your best interest.
5. Get Everything in Writing
A settlement is a contract of sorts. Make sure you get it in writing before signing off on your claim. Do not accept verbal offers. And be very careful because your verbal acceptance that’s recorded could be legally binding. So once you get an offer, ask for it in writing before responding to it.
The best way to avoid pitfalls when negotiating with an insurance company is to work with an attorney who can explain things to you and protect your interests. For a reliable personal injury attorney in Indiana, contact Stewart & Stewart. We offer a free case evaluation to help you get started.