You got a settlement offer from the car insurance company after your accident, but the offer seems too low. This is a common situation, since the whole job of an insurance adjuster involves trying to save their company money. Just because you got a low settlement offer doesn't mean you need to take it though and the following article discusses what to do to try to reach a fair agreement.
Analyze the Offer
An insurance adjuster's offer will be based on many elements of your claim. A low settlement offer might be due to a number of possible issues. The insurer may not have all of the information about your injuries or property damage. They might feel that they have a good chance of winning a court case because of the circumstances surrounding your accident, or because there is evidence of your contributory negligence. A low initial settlement offer may also be a simple negotiating tactic, but a close look at the information that has already been sent to the insurer may help you better understand the insurance adjuster's position and improve your chances of negotiating or winning a higher amount. It can be wise to review your written response with an attorney to insure that you don't unwittingly harm your claim with the statements you provide.
Send a Written Response
A written response to an offer can be used to better develop your claim and request information about the insurer's reasoning in setting a settlement offer. If insufficient documentation is the issue and there is better information available, such as additional bills for treatment or repair estimates, it can be submitted in your reply. A written response is also an opportunity to develop the emotional and psychological aspects of your claim, which do not typically receive much attention in initial demand letters. Providing information about the negative impacts of your injury, such as the loss of consortium with your spouse, lost work, pain and suffering are difficult to quantify and may have been overlooked or undervalued in the insurance company's initial assessment.
Make a Counteroffer
Rather than simply refusing an insufficient settlement it can be very helpful to respond with a counteroffer indicating the amount that you consider to be appropriate. The insurance adjuster may accept your counteroffer, or they may continue the negotiations by sending a counteroffer of their own. This kind of back-and-forth exchange may be repeated many times until an amount that is acceptable to both parties can be reached.
Take Them to Court
When a car insurance settlement offer is too low and attempts at discussion and negotiation fail there is still another option. You can file a lawsuit. Starting an injury suit doesn't necessarily mean that negotiations are over. An intractable insurance adjuster may suddenly become more reasonable when their company begins to accrue the expense of a court case and face the possibility of a judgment against them. On the other hand, a lawsuit also exposes you to the risk that you will lose your case and the additional expense of litigation might mean that the insurance company is less willing to reach a settlement or that even if you win a settlement it is reduced on account of legal expenses.
Regardless of how you proceed, responding when the car insurance settlement offer is too low requires a careful and rational analysis of your situation, as well as clear, well-considered communication between yourself and the insurance company.
Get a Free Case Review
Negotiation is an art. Insurers keep teams of professionals on staff for precisely this purpose. By hiring a competent lawyer you can ensure that you also have the advice and assistance of someone who understands the complex considerations surrounding settlements and other legal actions. Contact a local attorney to schedule a free review of your claims and how they can help you get fairly compensated.
Contact a qualified auto accident attorney to make sure your rights are protected.