Even the smallest of car accidents can wreak havoc on your life and daily activities. If you or a loved one were injured in the accident, your priority is getting the proper medical treatment needed to make a full and, hopefully, speedy recovery. And you also have to deal with getting your vehicle repaired. All of which will require dealing with the insurance company, and their claims adjuster to get the compensation you are entitled to for your injuries and other losses.
If you have submitted the claim to your insurance company and they have made a settlement offer, your initial reaction may be one of relief – now you will be able to pay for the repairs to your vehicle and get your car back on the road. Not to mention, pay those medical bills that are piling up! But what if you do not agree with the settlement offer?
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What to do if you disagree with the insurance company’s settlement offer?
The insurance adjuster should provide a reasonable settlement offer; however, their employer expects them to protect the company’s bottom line – and that means paying as little as possible on any insurance claim. In order to get what you deserve, you will need to know or learn the art of negotiation, as it is key to getting compensated fairly.
Here are some steps you can take to help resolve your insurance claim:
- Determine What Your Claim is Worth
- Be Prepared to Support Your Claim
- Review your Auto Insurance Policy
- Notify the Claims Adjuster
- Consult with an Attorney
Determine What Your Claim is Worth
The settlement offer should be sufficient to cover all your injuries and damages. When it comes to determining your medical expenses, it is important that the costs for any future medical care for lingering or long-term issues are calculated and included in your demand for settlement. Injuries from car accidents do not always present immediately. If you sustained injuries as a result of a car accident, your health care provider should be able to determine the likelihood of needing future medical care. The cost for any future medical expenses related to injuries from the accident should be included in any settlement offer you accept from the insurance company.
The value of your car is crucial in determining the cost of repair or replacement. The Insurance company will inspect the vehicle and provide an estimate of what they believe it would cost to repair the car properly. To accurately determine the cost of damages, you should have an independent, reliable mechanic inspect the damage as well and provide you with a list of components and labor required to repair the vehicle. You can compare the estimates and question any significant differences you may find.
Used cars may be written off in the belief that there is too much damage to repair, or the cost of repairs may be higher than the value of the vehicle. You can check online offers and use this information to correct the estimated market value of your car.
Be Prepared to Support Your Claim
Collect as much evidence as possible to support your claim. This should include any and all documentation surrounding the accident, such as all your medical records related to the treatment and care for injuries sustained in the accident, treatment plans for all current and future medical care, invoices, billing, and payment records. Additionally, have documentation that supports any claim for lost wages and property damage.
Review your Auto Insurance Policy
Insurance policies almost always include information on the process for resolving any disputes that may arise between the insured and the insurance company. Arbitration is one of the most common methods used for conflict resolution. Arbitration is an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) process outside the judiciary courts. A non-biased, neutral arbitrator will review that case and render a decision in the matter. Their decision is legally binding.
Another dispute resolution process insurance companies practice is through a third-party appraisal service. The third-party appraisal service will inspect the car damages and determine the value of the vehicle. The insurance policy should explain these options.
Notify the Claims Adjuster
Inform the claims adjuster that you do not agree with their settlement offer. If the claims adjuster tells you they are not able to resolve the issue or increase the offer, escalate the issue by asking to speak with their direct manager. It is perfectly acceptable to ask for the name and phone number of their boss. If they cannot handle the matter, then talk to someone who can.
Send any evidence and documents that support your assertions, along with a letter explaining why you feel that the settlement offer is not sufficient to cover your losses. Always include the policy number (if you have it), the insurance claim number, and contact information.
Document everything. After any phone conversation you have with the insurance company, confirm the discussion and any agreements, or disagreements, you may have made, in writing. Follow up with a brief letter stating something like, “This is to confirm our conversation on (date) at (time), where the following agreements took place….”
Consult with an Attorney
If you are struggling with dealing with the insurance company to get the compensation you deserve, having an experienced personal injury attorney on your side can make all the difference in the world. When you retain an attorney to speak for you, insurance companies listen more closely and are less likely to fight you. Rarely does an insurance company wish to go to court to resolve an auto accident claim. A knowledgeable, trustworthy Florida personal injury attorney can spell the difference between a win or a loss for your case. In addition, a skilled attorney will help ensure you get the total compensation for your injuries and damages.
Florida’s rated personal injury attorneys, Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A., have a reputation built on professionalism, compassion, and dedication to our clients. We take the time to listen to your story and get to know you. We want to understand all the ways your life has been affected by the accident so that we can help make your life easier. We will provide you with the best legal advice to get the optimal outcome for your case. And we will happily answer your questions so you can make informed decisions.
Contact us today. We are an award-winning personal injury law firm that has fought for our clients for over 60 years and have recovered more than $145 million in awards. And we will fight for you.