How to negotiate a settlement with an insurance claims adjuster

It’s understandable that getting into a car accident of any kind puts additional stress on you. Aside from the physical shock, possible injuries, and property damage, the process alone to wrap up the whole experience has many moving parts.

It’s almost never just a cut-and-dry scenario, where the person at fault’s insurance pays out without any fanfare.

This means having to deal with a variety of other individuals who will review and evaluate your accident. They’ll make recommendations that you may or may not agree with, causing you to have to fight for what’s your due. One such person in the mix is an insurance claims adjuster.

An insurance claims adjuster’s job

An insurance adjuster is someone who reviews insurance claims to determine whether or not an insurance company should pay, and if so, how much. In the case of your car accident, they’re the person who decides how much compensation you’ll receive, from the insurance company, to cover damages and injuries.

When an accident is between two people, with insurance, both sides will end up with an adjuster, reviewing the situation and making a judgment on how much the insurance company should pay if you make a claim.

To collect all the information, insurance claims adjusters will:

  • Talk with you directly
  • Assess actual damages
  • Speak with witness
  • Read any reports or official documentation related to the incident

Both written statements and photographs of the scene and property damage, as well as expert testimonies, can go into the file for your case as well.

What do car adjusters look for

The simple answer here is the details. Going back to your car accident, a claims adjuster wants to know exactly what happened from as many sources as possible. They’ll get your account of the accident, but may also want to snap photos of your car itself. They’ll also want to talk to any witnesses and possibly the other people involved in the car accident.

When the police report is ready, your adjuster will review that too. Lastly, they may consult with an expert mechanic or even medical personnel to flush out their assessment.

This is all in addition to the variety of documentation they may want to review. It includes the obvious, like police reports, but may also mean medical records as well.

Once all these pieces are brought together, the adjuster makes a monetary recommendation directly to the insurance company.

What not to say to a car adjuster

When it’s your turn to talk to your claims adjuster it’s important to remember whose side they’re really on. Although dealing with an insurance adjuster can feel like a pleasant experience, like when you’re talking to someone truly concerned with your well-being, they’re really on the side of the insurance companies.

Insurance companies are rarely on the side of the people making claims for compensation.

If you get too comfortable talking to your insurance adjuster, you may accidentally make a statement that damages your case rather than helps it along. This could lead to the offer from the insurance company not converting your full claim.

A best practice for talking to an insurance adjuster is to give an honest account of your car accident with as little detail as possible. It’s also okay to consult with a car accident attorney before you even talk to an adjuster. They may be able to speak on your behalf in a way that ensures the language can’t get twisted into reducing your claim settlement.

Insurance claims adjuster secret tactics

If you do end up discussing things directly with an adjuster, stay on your toes. Even as you watch what you say, keep a close listen out for what they’re asking. Car insurance adjuster secrets include trying to trick you into saying something you don’t have to by how they ask their questions.

When talking with an adjuster:

  • Don’t assign blame yourself, unless it’s obvious who’s at fault. Especially if the evidence of the accident is more a he said/she said scenario, you don’t want to give the adjuster an opening to shift the blame onto you.
  • Don’t believe that minimal car damage means minimal injuries only. It’s perfectly plausible for your car to have minor body damage while you suffer moderate to high physical pain that was directly caused by the accident.
  • Don’t link any accident-related injury to a pre-existing condition unless that pre-existing injury was aggravated or exacerbated by the accident itself. You’ll need medical proof of what you were experiencing before and after the accident, so make sure all health issues are always well-documented.

You should also watch out for your adjuster putting undue pressure on you. Remember, you do not have to accept a settlement by any given deadline. Nor do you have to submit unrelated medical records to them.

Focus on what’s relevant, stick to your guns when talking about the severity of injuries and damage, and don’t hesitate to contact an attorney if you feel like your adjuster is trying to back you into a corner.

Handling a low settlement

Even with all your hard work and focus, you still may end up with a low settlement offer from the insurance company as a result of the adjuster’s review. You can always go back to the adjuster and provide them with additional evidence that may influence their recommendation.

To address a low settlement:

  • Make sure you’ve submitted all the evidence you collected, including pictures and the names of any individuals you spoke to at the scene. They may not have come forward as a witness, but could speak on your behalf.
  • If your case has been labeled as a low-impact accident based on the damage to your car, make sure your adjuster has seen the damage done to the other car. If you’re rear-ended for example, the front of the other car could be in much worse condition, more accurately displaying the severity of the accident, and providing proof that your injuries are valid.
  • Share evidence that goes beyond the accident itself. This includes repair estimates to your vehicle after it has been closely evaluated, and doctor’s statements about the nature of your accident-related injuries. Your insurance adjuster is talking to the experts, you should too.
  • When talking about injuries make sure you quantify how much more serious any pre-existing conditions became as a result of the accident (if applicable). You need to show proof when fighting an adjuster about anything they can claim is a pre-existing condition, and thankfully, modern medicine makes it easy. Instead of talking about how much your pain increased, you can use actual data via bloodwork, x-rays, and more.

It’s always alright to provide a counteroffer, and you’re perfectly entitled to wait until you feel up to dealing with this issue to respond.

For additional support, a personal injury attorney can not only help you figure out what to say, and help you say it right, but they’ll draft the counteroffer letter for you to ensure you’re asking for the proper level of compensation. Remember, you cannot negotiate a claim offer after you’ve accepted it so move slowly.

Get help dealing with an insurance adjuster

At Nicholson, Silverbach & Watson, our experienced team of personal injury attorneys specializes in offering customized support to all our clients. This means we look at the specifics of your car accident and advise you on what’s necessary to ensure you get the compensation you deserve.

Hiring an attorney like the ones at NSW help protect you should you and the claims adjuster not see eye-to-eye on compensation. No matter the reason why, we’ll evaluate your case and take the stress of handing the claims adjuster out of your hands so you can focus on healing.

To learn more, and set up your free, no obligation consultation, contact us today.

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