Car Accident Insurance Settlement
How to Fight a Low Claim Offer
If you get a really low car accident insurance settlement offer, you can still find ways to negotiate more money from the auto claims adjuster.
(This is part 2 of negotiating an unfair settlement offer. Read part 1 Auto Accident Settlements: Negotiating an Unfair Claims Amount. )
Here are some tips that can help you increase your compensation:
Contact Claims Supervisor
If you are unable to convince the adjuster to increase your car accident insurance settlement amount, ask to speak to his or her boss.
Every claims adjuster has a supervisor and claims manager that handles the claims department. Merely suggesting that you want to talk to the supervisor, will make the adjuster want to alter the car accident insurance settlement offer and avoid contacting their boss.
If the adjuster says that he will contact the supervisor, let him have some time to go back and discuss your auto accident settlement with the supervisor. But ask for a specific date to have a response by and follow up on this by contacting the adjuster.
If the adjuster refuses to discuss this with his boss, ask him for the name of the boss and contact them yourself. Let the supervisor know that you are unhappy with your car accident insurance settlement and mention any improper negotiating or bad faith tactics used by the adjuster.
Ask the supervisor to review the claim himself or assign it to another car accident adjuster. If you are still unable to get a reasonable offer, ask the supervisor to send you a letter explaining the reasons behind this car accident settlement amount. You can then analyze each point and see if you can argue it or show it to a lawyer.
If you are still unhappy with the result, you can contact one more person, the claims manager. The claims manager is the boss of both the adjuster and supervisor. You would repeat the same process by describing your car accident settlement and the difficulties you are having with the adjuster and supervisor.
At this point the claims manager will think that you are really persistent about your car accident claim and may be more trouble than it's worth. This would force the manager to consider settling for a higher amount and avoid all the hassle.
Contact State Department of Insurance
Every state has a Bureau of Insurance to oversee the insurance companies in its state. The primary responsibility of the State Department of Insurance is to protect the interests of you, the insurance consumers.
You can find your state's department of insurance by going to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) . Once there you can navigate to the car accident claims department.
For example, here is a link to filing a claim against an auto adjuster for my home state of New York.
If you mention to the adjuster that you will submit a complaint to the state department of insurance, that should help you reopen negotiations. The insurance company doesnÕt want to have to your car accident claim drag on and also have to deal with a filed complaint against them. This can be really bad for companies that have been repeatedly reported to the state department of insurance.
Your Last Options
If after all of these negotiating tactics you are still unable to get a fair car accident insurance settlement then you will have to explore other options. These may include going to small claims court or hiring a personal injury claims lawyer.
Small claims court are simple and do not require you to hire a lawyer. However, your maximum car accident settlement is limited and will be different in each state. For example, in New York the maximum amount you can recover in a small claims court is $3,000. If you think your car accident insurance settlement is worth more than the state minimum, you should consider hiring a personal injury lawyer.
Hiring a personal injury lawyer can save you the headache of handling the car accident claim on your own and having to deal with the insurance companies. The downside is that the personal injury lawyer will take nearly half of your settlement.
Pays to be Persistent
The most important point in all of these negotiating tactics is to stay persistent. If you keep coming at the insurance companies with all the options I have outlined, you will at least give yourself a chance to get a better car accident insurance settlement.