How to Get the Insurance Company to Increase A Settlement Offer
When people are injured in accidents, many of those people try to handle their own injury claim against the insurance company. Usually, they quickly realize that they will be in for a fight to get a fair settlement offer. Here are the ways to get the insurance company to increase a settlement offer that are often used by experienced personal injury lawyers:
Increase a Settlement Offer by Documenting Your Damages
In Alabama personal injury claims, you are entitled to different types of “damages.” Damages are the types of harm suffered by someone for which they can received compensation under the law. To learn more about the different types of damages in Alabama, read our blog post Types of Damages in a Personal Injury Claim.
When negotiating with an insurance adjustor, you must understand that they are often constrained by a computer system that is used to evaluate claims. In many instances, insurance adjustors will have limited discretion to exceed what the computer systems say the claim is worth.
For example, Allstate Insurance uses a computer system called Colossus. State Farm uses a system called DREAM. These computer systems heavily focus on ICD codes from medical bills and records to determine the value of the personal injury claim. Therefore, when negotiating a personal injury claim, it is important to ensure that the insurance company has all of your medical records and medical bills that are related to the accident. Most of these computer systems prioritize certain types of injuries by assigning more value for certain injuries.
In addition to medical records and bills, it is important to outline and substantiate other damages. For example, if you suffered a loss of income, gather proof of this from your employer. A letter from a supervisor or someone in human resources should be sufficient. If you seek the damage of “disfigurement” for suffering a scar due an airbag burn, provide photographs and receipts from the pharmacy for any skincare ointments.
In other words, insurance companies heavily rely upon documentation to determine the value of a claim. You must be able to corroborate and substantiate every element of damage with documentation in order to increase the settlement offer.
Increase a Settlement Offer by a High Risk Carrier
When another person or company causes you injury, then their liability insurance policy applies. In Alabama, insurance adjustors do not have to tell you the liability policy limits. However, if the insurance company is Direct General (GMAC), Assurance America, or another “high risk” carrier, you can almost be certain that there is only $25,000 in coverage.
With a high-risk carrier, you might can get them to tender the policy limits by refusing to accept less than the policy limits. To do this, you need to give them a firm deadline to respond to your demand and detail why your damages are significant. In many cases with high risk carriers, they will offer their policy limits of $25,000 if you hold their feet to the fire. You may not even need an attorney to do this.
If your case has damages in excess of the policy limits in a car accident case, be wary of not accepting a policy limits offer prior to determining whether you may have underinsured motorist coverage. To learn more about uninsured motorist coverage and how it may apply to your claim, read our blog post How to Protect Yourself with Underinsured Motorist Coverage. To seek underinsured motorist benefits from your own insurance company, you cannot accept a policy limits offer from the liability carrier without obtaining permission to do so from your own insurance company.
Everything you do with the insurance company should be in writing. You must not only provide documentation to support your damages, you must create a paper trail to show that you have provided the insurance company with everything they need to make a good faith offer.
Insurance adjustors have a legal responsibility to act in good faith to protect their insureds, i.e. their customers. They have a duty to attempt to resolve the case. The more of a paper trail you leave showing you have given them an opportunity to protect their insured, the more leverage you may have over the adjustor in negotiations.
Contacting a Lawyer to Increase a Settlement Offer
If you are unsuccessful in getting a fair offer, contact a personal injury lawyer. Many personal injury lawyers will handle your case on a contingency fee on the amount of money they increase your offer by. For example, if the insurance company offers you $15,000 prior to you contacting a lawyer, the lawyer may agree to charge a contingency fee on sums obtained over and above the $15,000. We frequently do this for our clients.
In many instances, a lawsuit will be necessary in order to obtain a better settlement offer. Insurance companies usually realize that an experienced personal injury attorney will be able to get a jury or judge to award a better verdict than their lowball offer.
If we can be of assistance to increase a settlement offer in an Alabama personal injury claim, please reach out to us to discuss your options.