If you are trying, or have tried, to negotiate a car accident settlement with an insurance company claims adjuster, then you know how frustrating the process can be. Insurance adjusters are highly skilled negotiators who handle car accident settlements on a daily basis. An adjuster’s main goal is to settle claims quickly and for the lowest monetary value possible. In order to accomplish this, the adjuster would prefer that you remain in the dark about certain fundamentals and tactics of negotiations.
In our experience as Philadelphia car accident lawyers, these are the five key things the insurance adjuster doesn’t want you to know about car accident settlement negotiations:
It sounds simple, but many unrepresented claimants fall for this very tactic, used often by insurance adjusters. Adjusters usually approach you in the friendliest manner when attempting to negotiate your claim. Some even try to “chat” you up to build a rapport that will make negotiations easier for the adjuster and the company he or she represents. The adjuster may ask you about your family or other personal issues that are unrelated to the claim. Adjusters do this to get you to believe they are on your side, hoping you will let your guard down when you are negotiating the settlement of your claim. The insurance adjuster will not tell you that his only interest is negotiating your claim for the lowest dollar amount, even if that means you are not made whole after the settlement.
The law requires that insurance adjusters act in good faith when negotiating a settlement. Let’s consider an example:
One morning on your drive to work, you are rear-ended by another driver. (In most cases like this, the driver who rear-ended the other vehicle is automatically assigned fault, and as such is responsible for all damages.) This collision caused total damage to your vehicle, and you sustained severe injuries causing you to miss months of work. You have incurred medical bills that range from $40,000 to $50,000. When it is time to negotiate your settlement, the adjuster only offers you $8,000. He refuses to explain why the offer is so low, and refuses to budge on this amount, even when provided with medical bills, a police report, and other objective evidence of liability and damages. This conduct may constitute bad faith. Other examples of bad faith might include witness tampering or withholding information from you or lying to you. Both the insurance adjuster and the insurance company can be held legally responsible for acting in bad faith.
Whether the adjuster is acting in bad faith or just playing hardball can sometimes be difficult to determine. Our experienced car accident lawyers can help you evaluate the adjuster’s tactics and determine whether you are dealing with bad faith or just a legitimate difference of opinion.
Most state laws provide that you must be notified when a conversation is being recorded, so the adjuster likely will tell you when this is happening. However, the adjuster likely will not tell you that he is heavily documenting each and every conversation you have regarding settlement of your claim. The adjuster is creating a file for the insurance company’s records, but also memorializing information that can be used against you in the future. Claims adjusters are looking for any loophole in your statements as regards the events of your car accident and injuries, or any changes in your story. If they find inconsistencies in your statements of events, claims adjusters will attempt to use this information in future settlement discussions to justify a lowball offer.
A claims adjuster’s first offer is never the insurance company’s best offer. It doesn’t matter if you or the claims adjuster started the initial settlement discussion, you are under no obligation to accept the first offer or counteroffer made by the adjuster. Some claims adjuster will tell you that the first offer is a good offer and their best offer (or even their last offer), which in 99% of cases is simply not true. The first offer is a way to start negotiating your claim.
Insurance adjusters are always willing to negotiate and settle a claim, even when they are playing hardball. Insurance companies are in the business of trying to settle claims for the lowest dollar amount possible. Insurance adjusters have certain quotas to fill each month in regards to settling claim. They do not want claims to go unsettled and into the court system (to “litigation”). If a claim goes into litigation, this will cost the insurance company even more in court costs and attorneys’ fees. The insurance company would rather settle your claim than pay litigation fees, which would probably be triple what you are requesting during negotiation discussions.
Let Our Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyers Negotiate Your Settlement
There is no timeline as to when to start settlement negotiations. However, what the insurance adjuster really does not want you to know is that the most fruitful settlement discussions are conducted after all your medical treatment has been completed and with a car accident lawyer who knows all of these things the adjuster doesn’t want you to know. If you have been contacted by an insurance company and/or you are ready to begin settlement discussions, reach out to us. Let our knowledgeable car accident lawyers review your situation and help you negotiate a fair and favorable settlement.