Can You Negotiate an Insurance Settlement by Yourself?

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Can You Negotiate an Insurance Settlement by Yourself?

Many people who have suffered property damage or a personal injury find themselves in a situation where they have to negotiate with the insurance company. In some cases, injury victims or people whose homes were damaged in a hurricane are anxious to get some money because they need to pay for medical treatments, home or vehicle repairs or make up for lost wages. They may not want to delay the process by getting a lawyer involved.

Whether or not it’s a good idea to negotiate with the insurance company on your own is highly dependent on the situation you find yourself in.

When It May Make Sense to Go It Alone

If you were involved in a car accident and suffered very minor or no injuries and just had vehicle damage, you may want to consider foregoing an attorney. In most cases, a property damage attorney won’t get involved in a case where the only thing at issue is vehicle damage.

Home damage claims can be a little more complicated. The extent of the damages and the claim offer should really be the determining factor. If your home suffered roof damage due to storm damage and the insurance company offers you a fair settlement that will cover the cost of repairs, you likely won’t need an attorney.

When You Should Really Consider Contacting a Personal Injury or Property Damage Attorney

Auto Accident Injuries

If you are trying to decide whether you should get an attorney involved in an auto accident injury claim, consider the extent of your injuries, long-term repercussions and the cost of treatment and recovery. Are your costs going to exceed the limits of your personal injury, bodily injury or uninsured motorist coverage?

You may benefit from legal representation if your injuries were the result of another driver’s negligence and are going to:

  • Cause long-term disability, disfigurement, scarring or require ongoing care
  • Result in expensive and lengthy rehabilitation
  • Require surgeries to repair
  • Result in you needing specialized medical devices or home modifications
  • Prevent you from returning to work or earning the same income as you would have before your injuries

Even though Florida is a no-fault state, negligent drivers can still be held monetarily accountable for the injuries they cause, especially when the cost of treating your injuries significantly exceeds your auto insurance policy provisions.

Home and Business Damage Claims

Homeowners and business insurance policies are thick, complicated documents that are littered with complicated rules and restrictions. The dozens of potential damage source exclusions can sometimes result in homeowners getting offered a settlement that won’t even cover a fraction of the cost of all the required repairs.

If you’re going to be saddled with massive out-of-pocket costs because your insurance provider is saying the damage your home or business sustained isn’t covered by your policy, it’s likely in your best interest to speak with a property damage attorney or independent claims adjuster.

These professionals are intimately familiar with:

  • The complicated legal jargon and confusing terminology in insurance policies
  • Damage exclusions and the claims process
  • Potential mistakes insurance claims adjusters can make when analyzing damage
  • The tactics and strategies insurance companies use to convince policy holders to settle for less than they could potentially receive

Five Tips to Keep in Mind if You’re Negotiating With the Insurance Company

  1. Be warry on your first call with the claim’s adjuster. You are entitled to an opportunity to explain why you think your damage should be covered. Once you’ve discussed the merits of the claim, they will make a settlement offer. You should ideally counter with a figure that’s higher than their offer but lower than your initial request.
  2. Go into negotiations with a settlement figure in mind. You should do some research and potentially even get repair estimates before beginning negotiations with your insurance company. Knowing how much money you need will help prevent you from settling for less than you’re entitled to receive.
  3. Don’t jump at the first offer if you think it’s unfair. Starting with a low offer is a common insurance company negotiating tactic. If the first offer they make is unreasonably low, ask them to justify their reasoning and make sure to take notes so you can send a written retort on why you think their settlement offer and the rationale behind it is incorrect or inadequate.
  4. Read authorizations for release carefully. If you are trying to negotiate a medical claim or lost income, your insurance company will send authorization papers for you to sign. In most cases, these papers give them permission to obtain relevant medical records or information about your income and work record. Read these authorizations carefully and make sure you’re not giving them access to records that are unrelated to the accident.

Put settlement agreements in writing. It’s much easier to hold an insurance company accountable if you have everything in writing. If you do negotiate a claim settlement with your insurance company, write it out, including the damages covered and for what amounts and the agreed upon date of settlement payment.