Learn how to negotiate a nuisance value payout from the insurance company for injury claims the adjuster would rather deny.
Insurance adjusters handle dozens of claims every day. Most claimants have strong cases, and it’s only a matter of negotiating a settlement.
Occasionally, adjusters may end up with injury claims so weak that, in the adjuster’s opinion, they’re not worth wrangling over.
Weak injury claims are usually flatly denied. However, sometimes the adjuster can be induced to pay a “nuisance value” to make a claim go away.
A nuisance value settlement is the adjuster’s way of getting rid of a bothersome claim file. Nuisance value settlements are typically nominal amounts of money paid in exchange for a release of liability.
Here’s what you need to know about negotiating nuisance value claim settlements.
When a Personal Injury Claim is Denied
When you firmly believe another party caused an accident, you file an injury claim with the at-fault party’s insurance company.
The adjuster may have several reasons to deny your injury claim.
Adjusters often deny claims because:
- Their insured was not liable for the accident
- Their insured was partly at fault, but you were mostly to blame
- Their insured was at fault, but the adjuster doesn’t believe you were injured in the accident
Example: Claim Denied for Questionable Injuries
Patty stopped her minivan a few feet behind Sam, who was waiting for a red light in his pickup truck. Patty was reaching into the back seat when she inadvertently took her foot off the brake, causing her car to roll forward, striking the rear-end of Sam’s truck.
Patty and Sam exchanged information and agreed not to call the police since there was no visible damage to either vehicle and both drivers felt fine. They went on their way.
Patty called her insurance company to report the accident, explaining there was no damage and no injuries.
A couple days later, Sam woke up stiff and sore in his neck and shoulders. He called off his construction job and went to urgent care. Sam told the doctor he was rear-ended in a car accident.
The doctor determined that Sam had pulled a muscle or might have a mild case of whiplash from the accident. Sam was ordered to take it easy for a few days and use over-the-counter pain relievers. Sam soon was better and didn’t go back to the doctor.
Sam filed an injury claim with Patty’s insurance company, demanding $5,000 for his small medical bill, a day off work, and his pain and suffering.
Sam’s claim was quickly denied because the adjuster found no evidence to suggest that Sam’s injury was caused by the accident.
The adjuster explained that there was no vehicle damage from the low-impact collision, Sam’s truck was much bigger than Patty’s car, and his delay in medical treatment indicates his alleged injuries were not caused by the accident.
Having an adjuster deny your claim can be very frustrating, especially if you’re convinced their insured is liable for your injuries. You may be in pain and have accumulated medical bills, out-of-pocket expenses, and lost wages.
If you think the adjuster is wrong, contact a personal injury attorney for an honest opinion on the strength of your case.
Even if your claim is denied, you don’t have to give up. There are some legitimate tactics you can use to convince the adjuster not to close your file without paying at least a small amount of compensation.
In other words, you can try to negotiate a nuisance value settlement.
Negotiating a Nuisance Value Settlement
“Nuisance value” is a term used by claims adjusters to describe an amount of compensation they’re willing to pay to make a personal injury claim go away. Nuisance payments are generally small amounts paid when there’s no proof their insured was liable, or when the adjuster believes the victim’s damages are questionable.
If the adjuster decides her insured was responsible, the next step is to review the victim’s damages. Those damages normally include medical treatment costs, out-of-pocket expenses, and lost wages.
When the adjuster doesn’t believe your damages were caused by their insured, either because the insured wasn’t to blame for the accident or because your injuries are questionable, the usual methods of calculating what your claim is worth go out the window.
If you don’t have a strong claim, you still might recover a small settlement with these tactics:
Maintain persistent good-faith contact with the adjuster. Your arguments must be based on some form of credible evidence, however slight, proving that you’re entitled to some compensation for your injuries.
Calling every day, leaving messages about how you disagree with the decision, or angry messages asking to speak with the supervisor may be considered harassment, which serves no purpose and may get you into trouble.
Look for Additional Evidence
Ask the adjuster to listen to your arguments once more without interruption. Before you do, review every bit of evidence you have supporting your claim. If you can’t find something new to add to your existing case, however, you’re wasting your time.
When speaking with the adjuster, re-emphasize your belief that the insured’s actions were in some way responsible for your injuries. If you can show the adjuster something new about the evidence, you may get a small settlement offer.
Consider Filing a Lawsuit
Another method of securing nuisance value compensation is to consider filing a lawsuit against the person you believe is at fault. Injury lawsuits are filed against the at-fault person, never their insurance company.
Look at the situation from the insured’s point of view. Imagine you were in a car accident and then referred the matter to your insurance company. The last thing you would expect is to be interrupted at work or home several months later by a sheriff serving you with a lawsuit. That’s what you pay insurance for – so you don’t get sued.
Adjusters know very well their failure to settle a claim may result in their insured being sued. If that happens, the adjuster would hear from the insured, from you, and the adjuster’s supervisor.
You must be careful, though. Baseless threats of litigation are improper. The adjuster can easily call your bluff, knowing you probably can’t find an attorney willing to take your case.
Your threats must be based on good faith. Unless there is some basis, however small, the threat of a lawsuit will not be productive.
You could certainly file a lawsuit on your own, but if your case is weak, you may end up losing and on the hook for the other side’s legal fees.
Adjusters can usually tell when a victim is serious about threats of litigation. If you believe you have a legitimate chance of some form of relief through the courts, threatening a lawsuit is proper. That threat can be all you need to get the adjuster to offer some amount of compensation.
Emphasize the Cost of Litigation
The logical extension of a lawsuit is the cost of litigation. Insurance company defense attorneys are usually independent contractors who bill the company by the hour. Once you file a lawsuit, even in small claims court, the insurance company is obligated to defend their insured.
The adjuster knows about the costs of legal procedures. There’s nothing wrong with reminding the adjuster that settling with you will probably cost less than litigation, even if they win.
Once the adjuster realizes you’ve done your homework, there’s a good chance they’ll make an effort to settle your claim quickly, even if it’s only for nuisance value.
Will These Tactics Work?
Insurance companies and their claims adjusters do draw the line sometimes, even when they might have the authority to settle a claim for nuisance value. There are some claims they will not settle.
Claims adjusters often juggle dozens of injury claims at any one time. They’re not going to give money away without some legitimate basis, but they also don’t want to spend a lot of time and effort on valueless claims.
You can improve your odds if you are persistent, professional, and have at least a little evidence that gives the adjuster an excuse to approve a nuisance value settlement. But understand there are never any guarantees in claim negotiations.
First, talk to a personal injury attorney. Most attorneys won’t charge for the initial consultation.
If you decide to handle your claim without an attorney, these negotiation tactics might help you get a nuisance value payout for your injury claim.
Video: Getting a Nuisance Value Payout
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