Negotiations With Your Auto Insurance Company
After an auto accident, part of the recovery process often involves filing a car insurance claim to recover for the property damage to your vehicle, bodily injuries, or both.1 The process of filing a claim with your own auto insurance company will focus around negotiations between yourself best handled through legal representation and the company’s insurance claims adjuster.2
Steps in the Negotiations Process
The claims adjuster’s goal during the negotiation process is to reach an agreed upon settlement that is as low as possible within a preset range. The initial offer will likely be very low in comparison to the final settlement, but will be based off of comparable vehicles price in your geographical region.3 In general, there are two possible responses to an initial offer: acceptance of the settlement value or declining the offer which coincides with providing the adjuster a claim letter that provides a counter offer.4 The later of these two options can trigger a back-and-forth negotiation process The offers made to adjust the settlement amount during the negotiation will depend on the adjuster’s inspection of the car, the benefit of determining a car a total loss, or the need to style claims quickly due to the company’s volume of outstanding claims.5
The Negotiation Process: Pitfalls and Defenses
It is common for there to be a power and authority disparity between the claims adjuster and the insured party during negotiations, however, there are ways in which you can protect your interests during the negotiation process. Hiring an attorney who can negotiate on your behalf is an important first step towards reaching a successful settlement. Besides seeking legal advice, it is also important to know your own car insurance policy, know what your insurance claim is worth, and have an acceptable settlement range in mind.6 It is easy to become prey to a low first offer even when the initial offer is only used as a tactic to gauge the expectations of an insured party. This is why it is important to reject offers that are insufficient in value if acceptance would only serve to expedite the negotiation process. In other words, it is important to understand that settlements have a binding nature and that premature offer acceptance can be detrimental to recovery. In order to reach a sufficient offer, insured parties can deploy common defenses to a lower offer by requesting a justification for the low amount and by emphasizing the emotional consequences of the car accident; even if the adjuster is aware of the facts, a personal account of the pain, stress, or effects of the accident may aid the negotiation process in the insured party’s favor.7
Contact an Experienced St. Louis Personal Injury Attorney for a Free Consultation
If you have been involved in a car accident, it is likely that you will have to negotiate with an insurance company. In order to be prepared for negotiation with a claims adjuster and reach a fair settlement agreement, it is important to discuss the circumstances of your injury with an experienced auto accident attorney who can help to protect your legal rights and interests. To contact a personal injury attorney for a free consultation please feel free to call the The Bruning Law Firm trial attorneys at 314-735-8100.