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Tips for Settling a Car Insurance Claim

When you are in a car accident that is not your fault, you may need to file a personal injury or property damage claim. The car insurance company may offer you a settlement, but its initial offer may be lower than the amount you feel you are entitled to receive.

Continue reading for tips on getting a fair deal when settling your claim.

Be Prepared

Have everything you need when you submit your claim. Include as much documentation as possible, such as the following:

  • Photos and other evidence that you collected at the scene of the accident.
  • A list of property damage and expenses for repairs.
  • All medical-related expenses that resulted from the car accident.
  • Any notes on your pain, daily limitations from your injuries, and medical consultations.
  • A copy of the police report.

Understand How Car Insurance Companies View Claims

Auto insurance companies typically offer low settlements on claims. Their goal is to save money by paying out the minimum that you will accept. They may make the following arguments:

  • You were at fault (fully or partially), so they cannot compensate you to the extent you feel you deserve.
  • The value you are asking for is not justified.
  • Your documentation is inadequate. For example, if you can’t prove your injuries were accident-related with documentation, your insurer might argue that they cannot be reimbursed.

Negotiating a settlement is often necessary to receive a fair settlement if the insurance company’s first offer is low.

Negotiate Your Settlement

As you submit documentation for your claim, you will ask the auto insurance company for the amount of money that you feel is fair based on the property damage or personal injury suffered in the car accident.

At this point, you’ll probably hear from your insurance claims adjustor to discuss the specifics of your claim. The claims adjustor will use the information he collects to determine the settlement amount.

If you feel you have not received a fair settlement, it may be time to negotiate with your car insurance company. Negotiations can include a bargaining process in which you offer an amount lower than your first request but higher than the claims adjuster’s first offer.

The adjuster may make a counteroffer. You can accept that offer or continue to negotiate until you’ve reached a fair number.

Negotiating with an experienced insurance adjuster can be daunting, but these tips can help you get a higher amount of compensation for your claim.

  • Determine your minimum acceptable settlement. Don’t tell your adjuster what this value is, but keep it in mind as you go through negotiations.
  • Be flexible. Through investigation of your claim, certain pieces of information may weaken your claim. Understand that certain information may require you to revise your ideal number.
  • Don’t be hasty. The first offer may be very low because the insurance adjuster is hoping you will not negotiate. Don’t rush to accept an offer that feels too low.
  • Request explanations. Ask the insurance adjuster to identify reasons why you were given a lower offer than you had asked for in your initial claim.
    • Write these reasons down, and respond to each one in a letter.
  • Highlight emotional costs. It may help to emphasize some emotional points in your conversations with the adjustor. You could describe, for example, a newfound anxiety over driving.

Consider an Attorney

Getting a fair settlement for your personal injury claim is not always that easy. In some cases, hiring a personal injury attorney can be worthwhile. These are some reasons why you might want to consider hiring a lawyer, including:

  • The insurance adjuster is putting pressure on you to settle quickly.
  • You don’t think the car insurance company is offering you a fair settlement.
  • Your case is dragging on and your state’s statute of limitations may come before you reach a fair settlement.
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