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How To Negotiate A Good Settlement With An Insurance Claims Adjuster

The following is an account of actual events as they were experienced by me. I was the victim of an injury causing motor vehicle accident. This event happened in September of 2005.

I was stopped at a red traffic signal with 4 other vehicles, one of which was behind me. The car behind me was rear ended by a BIG RIG. Eye witness accounts report that the tractor trailer was doing in excess of 40 mph and caused damage to all five vehicles. The 1st vehicle to be struck was a lincoln. The lincoln pushed me into a truck in front of me. All three vehicles were totaled! You will learn here what my experience was and how I was able to reach what I consider to be a very satisfactory settlement. I choose not to use an attorney, although I interviewed several. I also interacted with 3 different claims adjusters. One from another state just happened to be a friend of mine.

Earlier in my life I was involved in a family court situation. I was in the domestic relations office more times than I care to remember. It was during this time I started to discover that attorneys really don’t do that much work for their money. (This is my opinion).

What I witnessed was that me and my attorney would go to these hearings and after some pleasantries were exchanged between attorneys from both sides and the domestic relations officer. We got down to business. The same thing would happen. The domestic relations officer would get a chart from his desk drawer and ask me and my ex-wife some questions, like how much did we make each week. The domestic relations officer would then run one finger across the chart and the other finger down the chart. Then he would announce a figure.

That figure was the amount I had to pay for support. One time I didn’t have the fee for the attorney so I went without one and guess what? The same thing happened. Out came the chart it was searched, and the figure was arrived at by the same method. I didn’t win anything. But I did save hundreds of dollars in attorney fees. It was then that I stopped using an attorney for these situations.

It was apparent to me that there was a formula which was used whether I had representation or not.

Back to this topic:

I wondered if the same thing would happen in my motor vehicle accident situation? I asked myself is this going to be determined by a formula as well? I went to the internet and started to do some research and guess what? For $20 I was able to buy a book written by a former insurance claims person.

The information was basic but it gave me enough knowledge to think maybe I could handle this successfully and save myself a boat load of money. If I could find out what the formula was I would be in a good position to fight for a good settlement for myself, by myself. I did not want to pay 30% of my settlement to an attorney for something I could do myself!

The first thing I did was to establish control. I emailed the adjuster at the at fault parties insurance company and informed him that all correspondence would have to be either written or email. That way I would have a copy of everything that was said. He called me and left a message saying we would have to have a conversation via telephone to discuss my case. I stayed my ground and informed him via email all correspondence would have to be written or emailed. The adjustors don’t like this because what they say in email they have to stick to. Remember…The adjustor’s job is to get you to accept as little money as possible!

On the internet I found some information about a case similar to mine that was settled in court. The victim was close to my age, had a similar injury as the result of a similar accident. The judge awarded this person nearly $400,000.

The adjuster I was dealing with wanted to know what kind of money I was looking for. I told him I didn’t know at this point but asked him based on his experience what could I look forward to from them? The person asking the questions is always in control. The adjuster wouldn’t answer my question. Neither would any of the attorneys I interviewed. But my friend in another state who was working as an adjuster was glad to help me.

When dealing with an adjustor it is important that you convey to them that you know what’s going on, without being offensive. Give them some statistics and tell them some stories. You may know someone who has been through this and can advise you what it was like for them.

In my case I have a friend who had the same accident and had been through 2 surgeries, and hired an attorney and had reached settlement. He was willing to share his results with me.

The bottom line here is that you can settle your own claim. If you need to have surgery I suggest you do seek professional advice. The longer you can wait for your settlement money the stronger your position. Don’t let these people push you around! You want to push them as hard as you can without going to court. Be polite, courteous and firm. These folks want to get through their day and go home without getting all stressed out.

Once the adjustor has all the paper work he requires and your losses and expenses have been documented it’s time to say SHOW ME THE MONEY!

In my case the 1st offer was $10,000. Remember the $400,000 settlement above? This just made me mad and I clearly stated that fact. When making a counter offer don’t go to low. You can’t raise your figure. The adjuster’s desire here it is to eliminate any amount above your counter offer.

Example : If I was to counter the $10,000 with $200,000 then anything over that is off the table. I would suggest you counter with a very high figure which is just as ridicules as the 1st offer. The adjuster told me this was part of the process and then talked down to me by telling me it was called negotiation. I responded by telling him maybe that how it was in his world but in my world I didn’t play games. I told him I would get back to him.

My wife and sat down and we figured out what our bottom line figure was and when we wanted it to happen by. I told the adjuster that I knew what was going to be acceptable to us and gave him an exact figure. I told him this was it there was no room for negotiation, and I wanted his response with in 3 days. I also told him that if they declined my offer I was done with him and would turn it over to an attorney. The insurance companies don’t want attorneys involved.

It cost them more money and when you’re done paying the fees you might be close to what the highest offer would have been anyway! The adjuster called me back that afternoon and accepted my offer. Case closed!

Copyright (C) John Steven Corbin 2007

DISCLAIMER: The purpose of this article is to help folks understand the motor vehicle accident claim process. It is not required that you hire an attorney. If you feel you need professional help you must obtain it on your own. Neither John Steven Corbin nor any publication offering his articles make any guarantee of any kind. John Steven Corbin is not an attorney and does not offer legal advise. John Steven Corbin's recent publication is titled MOTOR VEHICLE ACCIDENTS - A SPECIAL REPORT and is available at http://www.accident-victims.net

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Andrea said...
March 19, 2011 at 10:36 PM  

I know adjuster tries to settle the claim at a very low cost, at that moment the consumer have to be very careful and not to accept their offerings till he won't get a satisfactory claim. You do have talked about a book that shares information about how to deal in those times, can you please share the name of that book.
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Andrea said...
March 19, 2011 at 10:36 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
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