If you were able to walk away from your car accident with no injuries and only a few scratches and dents in your vehicle, you probably consider yourself lucky. Dealing with your insurance company was a hassle, but they agreed to cover the damage to your car—so it could have been much worse.
However, for those who have sustained serious injuries or total loss of their vehicles after a crash, the process of dealing with the insurance company becomes significantly harder. In most cases, an insurance adjuster will offer you a lump-sum payment that is intended to close your case. Many victims make the mistake of simply accepting this payment instead of pressing their case to get an amount that will cover their full injury costs.
The Insurance Company’s Offer Is Only a Starting Point
Victims should be aware that an insurance company’s first offer is not set in stone—in fact, it is more like the beginning of a negotiation. After you have been sent a car accident settlement letter by the insurance company, you are entitled to respond with your own counter-offer. Your case may vary, but the general steps in the settlement process include:
- Initial (low) offer. Insurers are trained to keep payouts as low as possible, so the company’s initial offer will likely be less than what your claim is worth.
- Counteroffer. In order to make a counteroffer, you should make a detailed argument outlining why you are entitled to a larger settlement. You must write a detailed demand letter explaining your costs and losses and the figure that you believe would be fair compensation. The demand letter may include medical records, police reports, other costs, and other information that supports your argument.
- Negotiation. The insurance adjuster will contact you again with another offer, and the process will continue until you can reach an agreement. This usually involves supplying additional documents, forms, and other information to press your case. You will try to increase compensation, while the insurer will attempt to bring the number down.
- Settlement. Once you and the adjuster have agreed on the amount in writing, you can accept the settlement amount. You will have to sign a release stating that you will not ask for more money in the future for your injuries, and the insurance company will send you a check.
How to Get Help Making a Counteroffer to the Insurance Company
The settlement negotiation process can be long and frustrating. If you’ve never dealt with an insurance company before, the adjuster may attempt to “stonewall you by refusing to budge on the amount until you give in. The best thing about having a lawyer on your side is that he can deal with the insurance company for you, getting you fair compensation as quickly as possible. Click the contact link on this page to discuss your case with one of our attorneys.