After you’ve been involved in a car accident and report it to your insurance company, a claims adjuster will be assigned to your case, who will investigate the claim and send you a settlement offer, typically in writing. You should be aware that the first offer you get from an insurance adjuster will almost always come in low. This is because the adjuster is working for the insurance company, and his or her job is to save money for the company.
However, adjusters also have the authority to negotiate the amount, which means you are not necessarily locked into that first settlement offer. You have the right to reject the offer or attempt to negotiate a higher settlement figure.
Below are some issues to consider as you form your response:
- What qualifies as a reasonable offer in your case?: To be able to determine whether or not an offer is reasonable, you should determine whether that figure will cover your vehicle damage, medical bills and any other losses you incurred, such as fees for towing or rental cars. Future medical costs and rehabilitation may also be an issue if you suffered a serious injury.
- What does your insurance policy say?: You should be familiar with your insurance policy, as well as Florida’s insurance laws. If your coverage limits are lower than how much you’re paying, your offer will not come in higher than the coverage limits. In addition, make sure you know who the insurance company believes to be at fault for the accident — many adjusters will attempt to overstate how much fault you bore to be able to justify a lower offer than you might otherwise receive.
- Be fair in your counteroffer: You will find that your adjuster will likely be willing to negotiate if you are specific in your rejection about why you believe the offer is unfair, and if you are reasonable in your counteroffer. You should not submit an extremely high figure that you cannot justify without evidence — that will indicate to the adjuster that you are not negotiating in good faith, and will likely lead to them summarily rejecting the counteroffer and any other counteroffers that follow.
For more tips about handling the settlement negotiation process, speak with an experienced Sarasota auto accident lawyer at Goldman, Babboni, Fernandez, Murphy & Walsh.