How to successfully negotiate personal injury insurance claim - Handling
the First Call from the Insurance Adjuster
No recording from the insurance adjuster
Remember, ABSOLUTELY NO RECORDING! This is a primary, cardinal Number One
Rule. What you say CAN and WILL BE USED AGAINST YOU. She may try to get into
your personal life: Are you married? Do you have kids? Where do you work?
What do you do? Etc. Again, deflect all of those questions and tell her
there will be more than sufficient time for you to present that information
as part of your background in your settlement claim. She has no right to the
information at this time and do not participate in giving it to her.
She is going to want to know your version of the accident. You can't believe
how sweetly the question will come because it sounds like she wants to be
your "good neighbor" and friend. Just remember her "good hands" are on your
wallet and anything you say about the accident or your treatment WILL work
to your disadvantage later on. Tell her very politely that you do not wish
to give any statement whatsoever regarding "my" version or any version of
the accident. Tell her that you will be glad to discuss the facts further at
the appropriate time. Tell her you will be making a written demand for
compensation and it will include a complete description of the accident.
She is going to want to know where you went for treatment, and, by the way,
how are you feeling today, and-oh-what did your doctors tell you about your
injuries. NEVER, EVER, GIVE HER THIS INFORMATION EARLY ON.
There is not one thing in that request that cannot wait your sending to her
a brief paragraph in writing. The reason why she wins and you lose-big
time-if you answer is that at this early stage, you do not know what is
important or not important about any of those topics. But believe us, much
is at risk, because in the informal format of the interview you will not
think to include everything. And although it sounds informal, once you give
a statement, it may as well be etched in stone.
See, she will ask you when you are finished speaking whether or not there is
anything else you can remember that you want to add. Then, so far as the
insurance company is concerned, you have just committed yourself to that
particular set of facts. YOU CANNOT LATER COME AND CHANGE THINGS WITHOUT
AROUSING SUSPICION AND RESISTENCE.
Keep Your Resolve
With respect to the second rule, keep your resolve. She is trying to
intimidate you and to discourage you from proceeding with full vigor by
arguing "no liability" at the outset. She knows that her insured owes you
something and she is trying to deflate your enthusiasm for documenting and
submitting your claim. You do not have to get into a debate with her, or
prove her wrong on the phone. Calmly state that you are sure that she, as a
professional, would not make a decision on partial facts and that once she
has your complete demand package she will agree with your assessment.
Then say goodbye and get off the phone. DO NOT engage her in idle banter;
she has no facts to go on and all she is doing has nothing positive in it
for you, so don't accept her invitation to spar at this time. Once you are
free of her, read more of this website to understand the strengths and
weaknesses of your case.
Resist Overtures toward an Early Settlement
The third ground rule is to resist her overtures toward an early settlement.
If you do have a particularly strong case, both in terms of liability and
severe bodily injury, you can expect that the adjuster is going to try to
settle the claim early. She may not try it during the first call, but
somewhere early on, she is going to indicate that the case is one of clear
liability against her insured and that she has a fair offer for you. She may
even blurt out a proposal: "I cleared this with my supervisor because we
feel so bad about what happened to you. He authorized me to take care of all
your medical expenses in this matter and pay you an additional $2,500 on top
of that! You won't have to submit a thing; we pretty much know what your
medical treatments consist of. My boss has only done this in two other cases
that I know of. That sounds pretty fair, doesn't it? I can have the
paperwork prepared along with the check to you in, say, two days. OK?"
WOW! You would swear some of these adjusters could sell used cars and do
quite well at it. She is not doing you any favors at all. What she is doing
is nothing you want any part of; she is trying to avoid what she sees as the
possibility of extensive damages. Insurance companies do not want to hang
around on the payment end of a heavy damages claim as they watch the medical
expenses increase and the pain and suffering award grow. Of course every
early settlement offer is not the sign of a particularly strong case; some
cases with simple damages need to be settled early.
The key to knowing when avoid the overtures to early settlement is to focus
on your injuries: if they are simple and you completed all necessary medical
treatment after only one or two visits, there is nothing wrong with
entertaining an early settlement offer. Just make sure she has all the
information from you and your doctors before she formulates her offer. And
make sure you counter her offer at a higher amount than you actually want.
On the other hand, as is most often the case when an insurance adjuster is
anxious to settle, if your injuries are more severe, or will take some
longer time for a course of treatments, then she is trying to buy a
settlement on the cheap, and you need to politely decline her overtures. Do
not be one of the crowd that accepts an unsatisfactory settlement offer.
Most people are so overjoyed to know they will not have to fight for a
settlement that they jump at the first offer.
Plus she has worked in a neat little factor in her presentation to induce
you to settle because you might feel beholden to both her and her
supervisor. Do you recall (from the example above) how she told you about
going to bat for you and your award, and how her supervisor also went along,
in a rare show of compassion?? The natural reaction of most people (because
they are gullible enough to believe her) is to be in awe of-and thankful
for-all she has done for them. "Gosh, look what they did for me; they really
care about me and my well-being; they really went out on a limb for me to
make this offer."
Can you see how making you feel indebted to her and her supervisor makes you
want to believe that what she has done is fair, and it would be in bad taste
to go against all they have arranged and ask for much-if any at all-more
money? This is nothing more than a pleasant way to intimidate the poor
victim from seeking his rights. Instead of threats and harsh talk, she has
used honey, but make no mistake: her purpose is to undermine your resolve to
push forward toward a fair settlement. And if you listen to her, she has won
with sweet intimidation.
What is the key to avoiding this trap? First, this advice only applies if
you do have a case involving something more than just one visit or two to
the doctor. If that is your situation, then when she starts to sell you on
an early settlement, the key is: DO NOT EVEN LISTEN TO HER. DO NOT LET HER
GET HER PROPOSAL OUT ON THE TABLE. SHUT HER DOWN; TELL HER IT IS FAR TOO
EARLY TO MAKE ANY SUCH OFFER, AND YOU DO NOT INTEND TO SELL YOUR CLAIM
SHORT. USE THOSE EXACT WORDS. And end that topic of conversation. Why should
you say this, isn't that rude?
No, what she is trying to do to you is rude. If you even so much as ask her
what the offer is, then she has won a BIG part of her battle; you have shown
a big weakness because you have shown an interest in settling before you've
resolved your medical care. The proper response is to politely tell her that
you are under medical care and treatment and that when you are stabilized,
you will present her a demand package and then learn her value of the claim.
Tell her that you don't believe she could possibly have an understanding of
the value of the claim because she has not received medical information.
Finally, as with all other conversations involving these matters, take
notes. You can scribble them down on a piece of paper while you are talking
but later transpose them to your Confidential Personal Diary (for more
information about your Confidential Personal Diary please visit our website
That way you have a chronological record of all the adjusters you have
talked with and the questions they have asked and your responses. Augment
the diary with additional pieces of paper if you wish.
Get more useful information on how to settle your own personal injury claim
yourself by visiting
About the Author
Jeanine Steele is an editor with SettlementCentral.Com
(http://www.settlementcentral.com), the online resource for self-help
do-it-yourself personal injury claims