Getting into a crash is a frustrating experience. First, you have to deal with the pain of the accident—sometimes metaphorically and sometimes actual. After getting any needed emergency medical treatment and finally moving forward with an insurance claim, frustration can surge when you get the insurance settlement offer. It is not uncommon for insurance companies to begin with a very low settlement offer. Here’s how to respond:
#1: Take a breath.
You do not need to accept this offer. Yes, it is frustrating that the insurance company is not being very supportive or realistic but know that you can fight back. This offer from the insurance company is just one part of the negotiation process. Take a breath and prepare for the next step.
#2: Do your research.
Before you start your negotiations, do a bit of a digging. Was your vehicle damaged? If so, get a couple of estimates for the value of the vehicle before the accident. Online resources like Kelley Blue Book can help. Was anyone injured? Get an idea of how much you will likely spend for current and future medical bills as well as any needed rehabilitation or medications. Did you have to miss work? Include any missed wages in your calculation. Take all of this information and put it in order so you are prepared to either call or write up a letter to counter the insurance company’s initial proposal.
#3: Round up.
As with any negotiation, it is a good idea to counter the insurance company’s offer with a slightly higher number than what you calculate. This gives you a little wiggle room if your calculations are off and also gives you some leeway if the insurance company attempts additional negotiations.
#4: Put together a demand letter.
Once you have your research complete, put together a demand letter to counter the insurance company’s offer. This letter will vary depending on the details of the case, but should generally include the amount you expect to receive based on your calculations and a list of everything the payment is expected to cover.
If all else fails, take the insurance company to court.
#6: Find An Advocate.
The above steps can feel overwhelming for those who don’t know the legal system, especially when simultaneously trying to recover from a car accident. Thankfully, there are advocates out there whose job it is to help you get the money you deserve from the insurance company. Most attorneys, us included, offer a free consultation to help you determine what to do next. You can reach out to us at any step in the process, even before you have received an offer from the insurance company.