Nobody wants to deal with damages to their car or to their home. Yet accidents and acts of nature do occur, whether it is a truck ramming into your car or hail punching holes into your roof. When these things happen, your only option to keep repair costs and medical bills low is to file an insurance claim.
According to your specific policy, the insurance adjuster will arrive at the scene and evaluate the damage. Then they will determine the right amount of compensation to pay for home repairs, car damage, replacement items, and medical costs. When the settlement comes to your door, most people simply accept the quoted amount because they are afraid that if they don’t, the insurance company will simply pull the claim and offer them nothing.
Yet you do have negotiation room when it comes to settlement offers. You don’t have to take the first one delivered to you, or even the second one. Check out the following advice regarding first settlement offers from insurance companies and what you should do about them.
Gathering Your Documentation
Long before the first settlement offer comes in, you want to gather as much information about the accident or damage that was caused. Take photos, gather receipts for the possessions that were damaged, keep all medical bills easily accessible, and gain repair quotes from local contractors and builders. You can use this information to determine a compensation amount that you think that you deserve.
It is also the appropriate time to review your insurance policy. You want your amount to cover everything, yet you have to ensure that the existing policy will cover everything. If you set up a compensation amount that is way higher than what the policy offers, then you won’t ever come to an offer agreement as your claim could drag on for months.
Evaluate the First Settlement Offer for Errors or Omissions
Never assume that the first adjuster’s report will be completely accurate. There can be omissions of certain items that you feel should be included which are lowering the amount on the compensation claim. There may also be measurements of damaged areas that are way off from what the true measurements may actually be. Don’t be afraid to reject the first settlement offer outright.
Return the check and inform them about the errors that were found. Often, the insurance company may say that you can file a supplemental claim to include any omitted items and to go ahead and start making repairs with the existing offered compensation. Yet it’s just best if they go ahead and cut a new check for the corrected amount after the insurance adjuster revises his report.
Lower Compensation Than Expected
Never be surprised that the compensation amount offered by the insurance company comes in way lower than what you expect. You may even find that the amount will not sufficiently cover repairs or medical bills. You can reject the first offer for this reason and request that the insurance company explain why the amount is so low for certain items.
When you get an explanation about the low offer, go over each item and provide a concise reason on why you believe the amount should be higher. This is an ideal time to use your gathered documentation to back your claims. Also, ask if they need any other additional information that could change the adjuster’s report. This tactic will make it appear as if you want to be accommodating and help them have the most accurate information, while at the same time being firm that you won’t just accept any offer that is placed right in front of you.
Provide All Complaints in Writing
Always make every complaint and counter-offer in writing. You want to have a paper trail available that you can review in case it seems like the insurance company is just bouncing back and forth with their reasoning. You should always write down why you are not accepting their offer and what type of resolution you desire to the problem. Set up a reasonable response time of how long you will wait for their next offer or to see it they accept your offer.
If you get to the point where it is obvious that the insurance company has placed in their final offer, and you still feel like it is not the amount you deserve, you should seek out the appropriate legal counseling. Here at DuBoff & Associates, we can look over your claim, evaluate your documentation, and help you negotiate with the insurance company.
Our firm can provide you with the consultation you need to determine your next course of action in reaching a settlement that you think is fair. Contact us today so we can get started with your claims process.