How to Negotiate a Car Insurance Settlement
When involved in a car accident that has left you injured, you are entitled to compensation for damages. You know what your injury has cost you financially, physically and emotionally but documenting this and proving it to the insurance company is essential for getting the compensation you deserve. Knowing what you need to make a claim, what to save and document, as well as what not to do, will help you maximize your auto insurance settlement.
Maximizing your auto insurance settlement is an important part of the claim process and something that should be given a fair amount of consideration. This isn’t to say you should cheat or defraud your insurance company but you should get fair value for your claim. The insurance company is going to be working hard to pay you as little as they can get away with, but you need to ensure you get a fair settlement.
Often, insurance companies will tell you they need a recorded statement from you in order to process this claim, this not only is not required but it is designed to get you on the record in order to ensure a smaller payment at a later date. This conversation is often loaded with questions such as “describe the extent of your injuries.” Some of these questions not only can catch you off guard but when asked at the time of an accident cannot be properly answered. Especially in the case of injuries, you may not know to what extent you are hurt until a later date. Describing what happened moments after it happened is difficult and victims are often confused and hurt and may do themselves a disservice. In many cases, the answers you give could actually lead to a claim being denied because the insurance company has you on record claiming something that may not be precisely true.
You have the right to not only contact a lawyer prior but also to have that lawyer present when answering any questions. Your lawyer will not only know the proper process of filing a claim, but he or she is there to protect you. The second thing you can do is to document all of your conversations with your insurance provider. Hard copies of letters, emails and other conversations protect you in the event your claim is denied or you are offered less money than you were initially promised. If you are unhappy with your settlement you can also ask to speak with a supervisor. Many times a supervisor has the authority to increase your claim in situations where an insurance adjuster will not. Lastly, if you are still unhappy you can ask to have your claim arbitrated or resolved in a legal manner. Mediation and arbitration allow an outside third party to oversee the dispute and help resolve the matter.
Follow these Instructions to Get a Fair Auto Insurance Settlement
- Do not give consent to a recorded statement. The insurance claims adjuster will try to get a recorded statement from you. Some will even go as far as to imply that without it, they cannot process your claim. This is not the case. These statements are taken as a means to ensure a smaller payout in the future. Oftentimes they will ask questions about your injuries that you may not have accurate answers to and those answers can and will be used against you in the future.
- Document all your conversations. You will be going back and forth with the insurance company a great deal during the claim and settlement process. It is important that you keep track of the conversations you have with them. Keep original copies of letters you receive along with any emails or other correspondence. When talking on the phone with the insurance company, write down the title and name of the individual you spoke to along with date, time and details of the conversation.
- Keep accurate records. Save copies of the medical bills you incur while being treated for your injuries. This includes doctor visits, hospitalizations, X-rays and lab work, physical therapy sessions and any other medical care you receive. Get copies of your medical records to have on hand. If you have missed work, obtain a statement from your place of employment with salary information and the number of days you have missed due to your injury and recovery time. If as a result of the accident you need to order food or hire help to cook, care for children and household chores, keep a record of this information and how much you spend. These are all factors that should be considered when evaluating the settlement.
- Do not settle for less. If you are denied a claim or are unhappy with the amount the insurance company is offering, speak to a manager to negotiate. If you find that you are unsuccessful in getting a settlement amount that you find is reasonable, do not hesitate to contact an injury lawyer for further assistance.
Tips & Warnings
- If you have a lawyer, it is wise to only answer questions in his or her presence.
- If you are unsure about the answer to a question, do not answer it.
- Do not admit guilt, or take responsibility for the accident.