You could easily accrue several hundred dollars in bills within an hour or two of a car crash. If you have to call a tow truck to move your vehicle or ride to the hospital in an ambulance, bringing those specialty vehicles to the scene of the crash could cost hundreds of dollars. The care that you need and the repair costs for your vehicle will also quickly start mounting after the wreck.
You know that you need car insurance to pay those bills, and you don’t want to wait for months while those invoices go unpaid and possibly drag down your credit score. When the adjuster handling your claim calls or sends you an email offering a lump-sum settlement, you might feel excited or just relieved that you can finally pay those past-due bills.
Before you accept that settlement, you need to look at it carefully, as initial offers are frequently lower than they should be.
Insurance adjusters don’t offer maximum compensation at first
You should not confuse the claim negotiation process with the bidding process during a sale. Someone trying to buy a piece of real estate or a work of fine art at an auction may open with their best offer to ensure success. An insurance adjuster will apply the exact opposite approach.
They want to make the lowest reasonable offer that they can possibly get away with making so that they have room to increase the offer if you reject it. Typically, an insurance company will never pay more than the maximum amount of coverage that the other driver purchase. Realistically, the insurance company will do its best to avoid paying even that much.
How do you make sure a settlement is fair?
It is reasonable to assume that the first offer from an insurance company isn’t the best possible offer unless they truly do offer you the maximum coverage amount carried by the driver at fault. Otherwise, you must prepare to negotiate.
You will need to review what the crash has cost you so far and what it will likely cost you in the next few months. There could be future medical bills and many more weeks before you can go back to work. Once you have an estimate, you are in a position to counter the offer with a figure closer to the real costs.
The average person will struggle to manage this process on their own, which is why they work with a legal professional who can negotiate with the insurance company without becoming emotional or falling prey to common tricks employed by adjusters and negotiators. Understanding that the settlement process often requires some time to finalize can help you handle an offer made after a serious car wreck.