How Many Counter-Offers Should I Make?
By Chris Dixon
If you’re going through an insurance claim negotiation, you have probably gotten a response for a lower offer. This is normal. Insurers want to pay out as little as possible for obvious reasons. To do this, they’ll take advantage of injured plaintiffs who are in recovery or suffering from medical and financial stress. Don’t accept the first offer. If your claim is for $100,000 and they counter with $80,000, there’s a reason they cut it back by 20 percent. Why? Because they know you have a good case.
How to Negotiate With Insurance Companies
The first step is to write a demand letter to the negligent party’s insurance company. If they’re uninsured, you may have to write a letter to your own company or personally to the at-fault party.
In your demand letter, you’re going to have to justify how much your claim is worth. This includes a number of factors, including special and general damages.
- Current and future medical expenses
- Lost income and loss of earning potential
- Property damage
- Out-of-pocket expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment
- Loss of consortium
Different states allow for different forms of compensation. You should contact an experienced personal injury attorney today for more information about the reimbursement you can receive.
Your demand letter should also include a complete rundown of how the accident occurred and why the insurer’s client is liable. You’ll need to provide supporting evidence such as witness testimonies, pictures, police reports, and eventually medical records. Once the insurer looks at your settlement offer and supporting evidence, they probably won’t accept it.
Insurance companies will send a lower counter-offer the majority of the time. This number is based on their own investigation, how much they believe you may be at fault, and other factors. A counter is likely going to be several times lower than your original offer. Usually, the special damages that you claim are not disputed. If the victim has solid evidence backing up lost wages, medical bills, and other expenses directly related to the claim, the insurer will accept that. However, when it comes to pain and suffering and emotional distress, the insurer will almost always try to knock down those values.
If the first counter-offer is much lower than you think you deserve, it’s important to send a letter back to the insurance adjuster asking for justification (if they didn’t provide any) for the reduced amount. Then, you’re going to want to re-justify why, for example, your pain and suffering is worth five times the amount of your special damages.
The Insurance Claim Negotiation Process
It’s important to note that, during the insurance negotiation process, that patience is key. You can go through several offers and counters before both you and the adjuster land on a number you can agree to. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Is the First Offer Reasonable? If you slip and break your hip in a commercial establishment, do you think it’s truly reasonable to ask for $1 million? There may be a reason to, but it has to be a good reason. Different claims and injuries are worth certain amounts. However, your claim could be linked to a bigger issue that could result in a class action and larger settlement.
- Emotional Points. In your original claim, you would have submitted a report about general damages like pain and suffering. Insurers will discredit numbers if they seem inflated. However, in your counter-offers, be sure to restate how the injury has affected your life. Keep a journal, be honest, and don’t be afraid to report anything that is related to the injury.
- Know Your Own Policy. If you’re seeking compensation from your own insurance company, keep in mind that you have a policy limit. Any counter-offer you make shouldn’t exceed that limit. If you experience more financial trouble due to the injury, know that the insurer won’t be able to pay out a higher settlement.
- Statute of Limitations. Missouri and Illinois’ statutes of limitations are different from other states’. Usually, you have around two to three years to file a personal injury lawsuit. If the negotiation process starts dragging on you may run out of time.
Hiring an Insurance Claims Lawyer
If the negotiation process is difficult and time-consuming, it’s time to reach out to a personal injury laywer that can help you negotiation a better settlement. Once an insurer makes a final offer, it might be time to open a lawsuit. You can contact the Dixon Injury Firm today for more information about our services and hear more about how we can help you win your claim.