How To Deal with Insurance Adjusters and Settle Your Claim
The top five tips for dealing with insurance adjusters can be applied to accident fault, total loss, and/or bodily injury claim settlements. Basically, it is essential for you to understand how adjusters work and to be wary of the tricks they will pull to get you to accept a lowball offer.
Things You'll Need
• Be in a good mood
• A telephone with a mute button
Be aware of the musical chairs game: A very common technique used against the unsuspecting insured. Adjusters love to "change," "reassign" or "exchange" claims among them. Many times the adjuster's supervisor steps in and reassigns the claim with no explanation to you. This makes you renegotiate already settled points if they are not in writing.
Also, dealing with different adjusters helps the insurance company isolate different issues. For example, one adjuster will settle the total loss, and another will settle fault, and a third one will settle the injury. This way, insurance adjusters can "throw" the ball among them, and they do not have to give you a straight answer. They can tell you "Well sir, I think the answer is A, but you need to talk to the X adjuster about that, and he is out of the office for a week."
You cannot really prevent this situation as they will reassign claims without notice to you, but the best thing you can do is to put everything they settle or tell you in writing. If they tell you that they will pay for your rental car, send them a letter telling them you understand they will pay for your rental car. This way, when the claim is reassigned, you can point to your correspondence and show that the insurance company agreed to something (pay your rental car) and they have to live up to their promise.
Do not let them change the shape of the money. "I am very sorry that you had a headache and lower back pain for more than two weeks. That is certainly a shame. We only can give you, at the very most $2,500 which can pay for a trip to Mexico for two. Why don't you treat yourself and take your wife on a nice Caribbean cruise?"
This is very powerful. Adjusters do this every day and many people start thinking in terms of trips and electronics. If the adjuster is settling a younger person, the offer would be $250 for an IPod, a Nintendo Wii, or A Play Station 3. This "helps" the injured party "spend the money in their heads," and makes them want to settle. Remember, you are settling for pain, fault, or the total loss of your car. You want money, not iPods, cruises, laptops, or video games. Think in terms of real dollars!
Look at the time of day. Adjusters want to call you when it is inconvenient for you. Yes, they want time to be able to explain their position, but they don't want to give you much time to rebut. So they will call you at 7:30 a.m., for example, when you are about to go to work. They want to put pressure on you so you settle right there and then. It "helps" you want to get rid of them.
You can turn this one around. Call the adjuster just before their lunch hour or before they leave for a three day weekend. They want to get out of the office and go home; you can get a better offer if the adjuster wants to go see his/her family. Tell them right before the weekend to picture themselves relaxing with one less claim to worry about when they come back to the office.
Be aware of the time of the year. Most people are looking for money before or after a holiday, so insurance companies push adjusters to be more aggressive around holiday seasons.
Think about it. You need money for the kids' toys? So why not give in and settle for $1,000? Adjusters are savvy and this is a great time for them. Resist the temptation to spend their offer in your head on Christmas toys -- keep your eye on the bigger picture.
Be quiet! Silence is the name of the game.
Adjusters are commonly trained to give an offer and hit the mute button! The rule is not to emit a sound after an offer is put on the table. This often works. Why?
You want to make one offer, not two, especially one after the other or in the same conversation. If an offer s $10,000, then the adjuster to hear a response. They do not, for example, want to say $10,000, but if you settle today, it's $11,000. This would be considered bidding against oneself. Insurance adjusters will never (unless the adjuster is not trained correctly) give you two different offers in the same conversation.
• They will give you an offer and wait to see what you say. Use this against the insurance company. Counter offer and hit the mute button!
Car Accident? See the Doctor Before An Attorney to Document Injuries!
Tips & Warnings
• You need at least one hour to try to settle your own claim.
• If you do not understand something, ask the adjuster! They have a duty to you, and they have to explain everything so you understand.
• If the adjuster quotes the law to you, ask to see a copy of that law. Many adjusters will not provide any documentation regarding the law.
• Consult with a good local attorney before you make any decisions on your claim.