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Negotiating Your Car Accident Insurance Settlement
Article 4 of 7 in Car Insurance Claim Settlement
If you have filed a car insurance claim to recover money for property damage to your vehicle, bodily injury or both, you will need to negotiate a car accident settlement to get the payout you deserve. Negotiating a car accident insurance settlement is not difficult if you are comfortable and prepared. When you negotiate your car accident settlement, you will need to work closely with an insurance claims adjuster who is responsible for investigating the accident and deciding what the company will pay.
TIP:Insurance claims adjusters have a car accident settlement range and will typically begin at the lowest figure. Their job is to settle the claim for the least possible amount of money. Do not be afraid to reject the first offer, and negotiate a better car insurance settlement deal.
The Insurance Settlement Negotiation Process
You can respond to the car insurance settlement offer, by politely declining and writing a claim letter with a counter offer reflecting the figure you believe your claim is worth. The adjuster will then respond with their own counter offer that should be closer to your acceptable range, and you two will begin negotiating the car accident settlement. You may venture into back-and-forth negotiations for a while, so be patient don't let any delays deter you to give in quickly and accept less than you deserve.
How to Dispute a Car Insurance Settlement
The first step in knowing how to dispute your car insurance settlement offer, is to prepare yourself by gathering as much information as you can about your policy and your claim. Before you respond to the initial car insurance settlement offer from your car insurance company, you should:
- Know what your car insurance policy says! You can't make a claim unless the damages are covered, so read through your declarations page to know what you are entitled to recover.
- Know what your car insurance claim is worth. Add up all of your bills, keep all of your receipts, and calculate all the costs that you have had to pay as a result of the car accident.
- Know your acceptable settlement range. After figuring out how much your claim is worth, set an upper and lower amount that you would be willing to accept, and be prepared to end the negotiation if your needs are not met.
- Know when to seek legal advice. You need to know what a car insurance attorney can do for you, and when you should consider getting legal help. Your car insurance company has experience negotiating claims, so you need to be prepared
How to Negotiate a Car Accident Settlement
Here are some options to bring your claim closer to settlement, even if you have reached an impasse:
- Go up the chain of command and speak to the adjuster's supervisor or manager. Adjusters get their dollar authority to negotiate a car accident settlement from their higher-ups. You may be able to convince someone in charge of your accident claim's value.
- Request alternative dispute resolution (mediation or arbitration).
- Hire an attorney to continue the negotiations for you.
- File a complaint with your state's Department of Insurance. Do this if you truly feel you are at an impasse, especially if you feel the low amount is in bad faith. Consider hiring an attorney who is well versed in insurance bad faith cases to file a suit against the insurance company for bad faith negotiations.
If your car accident attorney reaches an impasse and is convinced your case has greater value than the insurance company is assigning it, he or she might suggest filing a lawsuit against the insurance company or the negligent driver. Do not be afraid of this option if the car accident settlement process is not going to get you the money you need to pay for your damages.
How Long Does a Car Accident Settlement Take?
Settling a car accident claim may take days, or it may take months. The length of time depends on the amount in question and the facts of each case. As you work with your insurance company, you need to keep in mind that there are deadlines for you to file a lawsuit should negotiations fail. If your insurance settlement negotiations drag out for several months, you may need to take further action. While you can't force your insurer to settle your insurance claim by a certain date, there are things you can do to speed up the process, such as:
- Contact your claims adjuster on a regular basis. Don't sit back and wait for your insurance settlement. Claims adjusters typically handle hundreds of claims. Letting your adjuster know that you are on top of things by contacting them on a regular basis makes it more likely that your file will end up on the top of their pile.
- Demand better service. If you are having difficulty with the adjuster, ask to speak with their supervisor. Most insurance settlements must go through the insurance company's legal department, which can take some time, depending on the complexity of your settlement. Although a claims adjuster can't usually tell company attorneys to "hurry things up," he or she should be able to "manage" the process. If you feel that you're getting the run-a-round, talk to a supervisor.
- Contact an Attorney. An attorney can help force the issue by speeding up negotiations. The attorney may be able to write a final settlement letter to encourage the company to work more diligently on your claim at the threat of legal action. Additionally, an attorney will know when to end negotiations and file a lawsuit.
Negotiating your car accident settlement can be tedious, difficult, and frustrating. You will need to be ready to work with your insurance company, but not be afraid of pursuing legal action if they refuse to make an acceptable offer considering the value of your claim. It is not easy to learn how to negotiate a car insurance settlement, and attorneys are trained professionals who can help. Attorney consultations are free, so do not be afraid to rely on legal assistance when negotiating with your car insurance company. Click here to find an attorney in your area.
For more information about auto insurance claims, check out the following articles:
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