Law Offices of Paul K. Schrier, PLLC

When car insurance companies offer lowball settlements

After a car accident, the last thing you want to do is deal with the insurance company. Most likely, you just want to get your claim settled as fast as possible so you can return to normal life. You also may be facing financial pressures related to accident injuries or damage to your vehicle.

This scenario is exactly what the insurance company is counting on, which all too often results in you receiving a low initial settlement offer. Once you accept their check, you can never go back for more money. Before you resign to accepting offer, consider taking time to negotiate for a better settlement. There are several steps you can take to protect yourself against these bad faith insurance tactics.

Don't accept the first offer if it is too low

If you believe the insurance company's first offer is too low, do not accept it. In fact, do not sign any paperwork or deposit the settlement check, as the insurance company can take that as offer acceptance. The claims representative may try to pressure you, saying you may risk obtaining any settlement at all, but this isn't true. You have the right to take a reasonable amount of time to review the initial offer and negotiate if necessary.

Obtain documentation to support the value of your claim

It can greatly help your claim to collect any evidence related to your car accident. This is where it is often your best strategy to get a lawyer involved, to handle these details for you. Take photos of any vehicle damage and visible accident-related injuries. Keep record of all expenses related to medical care and vehicle repairs. Factor in other expenses such as rental car costs, as well as projected future expenses for injury rehabilitation or vehicle repair estimates.

Present gathered information to the insurance adjuster

Share the documentation you have gathered with your attorney, who will make them available to the insurance representative. Tell them you are not satisfied with the initial offer and would like it to be reevaluated, taking the evidence you are submitting into consideration. If the insurance adjuster claims there is nothing more they can do to change the settlement offer, ask to speak to their supervisor.

Negotiate with the insurance company

Your attorney, should continue to negotiate with the insurance company until you obtain a settlement offer that meets your needs. If the insurance company refuses to negotiate, or even move beyond the initial offer, you will have the option to pursue fair compensation through the courts. You also may be able to file a complaint against the insurance company with the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation.

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