Well, the number one tip is: Don’t Do It! An insurance adjuster is thoroughly trained in the claims process – both in a classroom and on the job. And chances are that your experience and expertise in this field pales in comparison. This puts you at a disadvantage and they are trained to use your inexperience against you.
This adjuster is an employee of the insurance company and their number one objective is to save the company money.
They try to accomplish this with a smile, but never forget that the adjuster’s main goal is to efficiently handle your claim in the cheapest way possible for their company. That is how they will get a good review from their manager, a raise or a promotion.
Overall, while it is generally not a great idea to negotiate with an insurance company on your own there will inevitably be some times when it just doesn’t make sense to hire an attorney to do your bidding. If you are in a position where you are about to enter into a negotiation with an insurance company, here are some tips:
First, gather your evidence.
Proof, in the form of photographs, documents, witness statements, internet printouts, receipts, etc. These things are very important so that the insurance adjuster can document the file otherwise and get authority to make an offer.
I once was contacted by a young woman whose method of negotiating proved successful, so I am sharing it here. Her vehicle had been deemed a total loss but she and her insurance company were disputing the “Blue Book” value of the car. Though I don’t recall the exact figures, let’s say the insurance company was offering $10,000.00 while she believed her vehicle was worth $15,000.00.
This young woman didn’t agree and scoured the internet to find sale prices for the exact vehicle; make, model and options. She printed out the results and sent them to the adjuster. The adjuster (reluctantly) increased the offer to $14,000.00. I would say that this was a successful negotiation.
Second, never ask for what you want.
In other words, don’t ask for $100 if you’re looking for $100. The art of negotiation is such that your demand should be higher than what you are actually seeking. Every negotiation is different, so there is no hard and fast rule as to how much more, but it should be more.
Also you should have a justification for that larger demand, whether it’s founded on some piece of evidence or some other reasonable explanation. An insurance carrier will almost always try to low ball you. Because again, they’re just trying to save money.
Third, know what you want going into the negotiation.
How much do you want? Are you looking to get the matter resolved as quickly and easily as possible? Do you want top dollar? Are you willing to accept less in return for some other accommodation?
The reality is that you will probably end up taking a discount to get something done quicker and easier. But it’s probably worth it because you will not have to go through all of the time, effort, frustration and uncertainty of small claims court for the sake of negotiating a small difference in a property damage settlement.
All of these rules hold true whether you’re negotiating a property damage settlement or a personal injury settlement, but the reality is no insurance company is ever going to pay you a fair compensation for personal injuries without an attorney. It’s simply not going to happen.