Being in an auto accident is bad enough, without the settlement process turns into a contentious car insurance dispute. Here’s a few tips to ensure you get a fair payout and maintain your sanity.
Have your own facts
There’s a saying that says each person is entitled to their own opinion, but not to their own facts. That’s not entirely true.
There are decisions made by subjective interpretation and the bias of the person making them is going to play a role. The value of your car and depreciation schedules are examples.
The claims adjuster making the initial decision is employed by the insurer and will typically come down with a figure on the low end of the spectrum.
But the adjuster doesn’t have to be the final word. You can hire an independent adjuster who will be paid based on the percentage of the settlement. Their interests are served by coming down with a figure on the high end of the spectrum .
Know how you negotiate
Now you’ve got the basis for some give-and-take with an insurer who doesn’t want to go to court any more than you do. Prepare yourself for a drawn-out process that will be drawn-out process with a lot of back-and-forth.
Everyone negotiates better in different circumstances. A sales rep might enjoy verbal jousting with the claims department. An accountant might be better off responding to counteroffers with “I’ll get back to you”, and then use their mastery of numbers to win the battle on paper. There’s no right way to do this and nothing that says you must play on negotiating terrain that doesn’t suit your skillset.
Be prepared to settle
You want to start with an asking price that’s high (but not ridiculous), but also know your minimum settlement amount. You’ll determine this by what you consider fair and your willingness to go onto mediation and then arbitration, which are the next two steps should negotiations fail.