Learn how applying patience and persistence while negotiating an injury settlement with the claims adjuster can boost your compensation.
It’s understandable to want the adjuster to give you their full attention. Injuries and recuperation from a car accident, slip and fall, or other injury accident are disruptive and expensive.
After all, it was the adjuster’s insured who caused all these problems, and you expect some consideration for your trouble.
Insurance adjusters want to settle injury claims as quickly and cheaply as possible. They’ll be more than happy to promptly settle your claim, if you’ll agree to settle for a much lower amount than you deserve, of course.
If you’re willing to negotiate with patience and persistence, you can effectively settle minor injury claims without a lawyer for an amount you can live with.
While some injury claims settle in a couple of weeks, many take several months of negotiations to reach an agreement that fairly compensates you for your injury-related damages.
Preparing to Negotiate with Patience
Insurance adjusters are trained negotiators with a variety of negotiation styles and tactics designed to push your buttons and get you to settle for less.
Careful preparation is the best way to keep a firm footing during negotiations. Don’t let the adjuster push you into discussing settlement before you fully recover from your injuries.
Take the time you need to do your homework so you can prove the at-fault party is responsible and defend the value of your claim.
Help Getting Ready to Negotiate:
You can bet the adjuster has an organized claim file in front of them when they sit down to negotiate, and you should too.
Your injury claim file should include:
- Evidence proving the at-fault person’s liability for your injuries
- Your medical records, medical bills, and receipts for out-of-pocket expenses
- Correspondence with the insurance company, including your demand letter
- Your detailed notes about the injury and your conversations with the adjuster
In a perfect world, the adjuster would thank you for making a fair demand, apologize for the inconvenience you suffered at the hands of their insured, and mail you a check for the full amount. Unfortunately, in the imperfect world of personal injury claims, adjusters don’t apologize to victims, and prompt settlements are the exception, not the rule.
You can negotiate with patience and confidence when you know your case inside out, and have supporting documentation at your fingertips.
Claims adjusters try hard to maintain the upper hand in negotiations, and can be manipulative and confrontational. The settlement process will go easier if you know how to deal with insurance adjusters.
Strong Emotions Hurt Negotiations
Negotiating with the insurance adjuster is the hardest part of handling your own injury claim. It’s normal to be nervous or anxious. You’ve got a lot riding on this, and you just want to be done with it.
Never admit to the adjuster that you’re nervous. You know what your claim is worth, and you’ve gathered good evidence. If you say the wrong thing, it’s not fatal. Just say, “I misspoke” and move on.
Sometime after receiving your demand letter, the adjuster will contact you, usually by telephone. The adjuster will give several reasons why your demand is unrealistic, and then make a significantly lower counteroffer, probably while making it seem like they’re doing you a favor.
Anger Can Undermine Your Efforts
Don’t get rattled when the adjuster’s first offer is excessively low. Exercising patience may be difficult, especially if you feel insulted by the adjuster’s low-ball offer, but it’s an important part of negotiating effectively.
The adjuster is watching to see how you react. If there were ever a good time to show your poker face, this is it. The fastest way to derail negotiations is to lose your temper.
Expert negotiators understand that bringing anger to the negotiation table won’t make you look stronger or more powerful. Rather, anger harms the negotiation process and makes it harder to strike a fair deal.
Take your time and think about the adjuster’s counteroffer. Remember, negotiating is a step-by-step process. At the end of a successful negotiation, neither side gets exactly what they want. That’s why you start with a higher demand than you expect to get, and the adjuster starts with an extremely low offer.
Expect Delays from the Adjuster
One of the ways adjusters exercise control is by taking their time when responding to your communications. Nobody likes to be kept waiting.
While persistence is important, avoid the temptation to call the adjuster too soon after you’ve made a settlement demand or counteroffer.
If you go into the negotiation knowing it may stretch over several weeks or months, you’ll not only sleep better, but you’ll probably end up with a higher settlement. By taking your time, you will use more objective reasoning and arguments, and avoid giving in to the anxiety and frustration that leads to bad decisions.
Adjusters handle a high volume of injury clams every day. They may be holding off to see how “desperate” you are to settle your claim, but they are just as likely to be swamped with work.
Common reasons the adjuster will make you wait include:
- A high caseload with other, more serious claims
- The time it takes to gather information from witnesses, police reports, and others
- Review of the claim by insurance company management
- The time it takes to collect information from you
Promptly send copies of your medical bills and records, lost wage statements, and other proof of expenses to the adjuster. Keep the originals in your claim file. Keep track of what you sent to the adjuster and the mailing date.
The adjuster might say they can’t process your claim unless you give them a recorded statement. You are not legally obligated to provide a recorded statement to the at-fault party’s insurance company. Giving a statement can help move things along. However, anything you say can be used against you.
You have the right to consult a personal injury attorney before agreeing to a recorded statement, or at any other time during the negotiation process.
Proper Follow-Up with the Adjuster
After receiving the adjuster’s offer, take a few days to come up with your counteroffer. Put it in writing and mail it, then sit back and wait. You may not hear from the adjuster for a week or more.
Negotiating with patience doesn’t mean you can’t call the adjuster if you think it’s been too long since you last spoke. There’s nothing wrong with picking up the phone, so long as you remain professional.
If you leave a voicemail, let it signal your restraint and determination. Don’t let your frustration show. The adjuster is looking for any weakness they can use as leverage to lower your settlement.
Here’s a good voicemail example:
“Hello John, this is Bill Monroe. My claim number is 23567. We last spoke on May 11th. At that time, I informed you that your offer of $2,400 was unacceptable. On May 13th, I mailed you my counteroffer of $5,100. I have yet to hear from you.
Please get back to me at your earliest convenience so we can settle this matter. My telephone number is 555-345-2741. I look forward to hearing from you.”
The above example conveys restraint and patience, while reminding the adjuster of your intent to resolve your claim. A claims adjuster will respond more quickly to a polite message.
Don’t leave a voicemail like this:
“John, this is Bill. I’m tired of waiting for you to call me back. I sent you a letter with my new demand. Why haven’t you called me yet? I’ve waited long enough. I want to speak to your supervisor. I want my money now!”
Rude or threatening communications will backfire on you. Not only will most adjusters let rude claimants sink to the bottom off their call-back list, this message lets the adjuster know you’re not likely to hold out for more money.
Although an effective negotiation style requires patience and persistence, there’s nothing wrong with debating your point with the adjuster. You must be able to disagree when the adjuster is wrong about the need or cost of a certain medical treatment, or how much time you were off work.
The adjuster expects you to argue. It’s part of the negotiation process, and they’re prepared for it.
So long as you negotiate with credible arguments in a professional manner, you’ll meet your burden of proof and maintain the adjuster’s respect. Respect leads to quicker and higher settlements almost every time.
When Negotiations Fail
Most injury claims settle for a reasonable amount of money after a few weeks or months of patient back-and-forth negotiations. It’s in the best interest of the insurance company to settle your claim and obtain a release for their insured.
Unfortunately, not all adjusters negotiate in good faith, and some are just plain incompetent.
If your settlement negotiations have stalled, or the adjuster won’t come off a ridiculously low offer, you might need a personal injury attorney to settle your claim.
Most injury attorneys don’t charge for their initial consultation with injury victims. There’s no cost to find out what an experienced attorney can do for you.
Video: How to Effectively Negotiate Injury Settlements
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