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How to Negotiate a Settlement With an Insurance Adjuster

Written by Tom Crosley
Mar 23, 2022 Personal Injury
  1. 1. Who Is an Insurance Claims Adjuster? 
  2. 2. Steps in the Settlement Negotiation Process  
  3. 3. Will My Insurance Claim End With a Settlement or Trial? 
  4. 4. Crosley Law Will Handle the Insurance Company 

Whether you find negotiations intimidating or exciting, taking on an insurance company after a car accident or other incident can be a roller coaster of emotion for you and your family — especially if one of you is healing from serious injuries.    

If your life was negatively affected due to someone else’s negligence or recklessness, you have every right to demand a settlement that helps restore the security you had before that accident. Knowing what to expect from negotiations is an important step toward the fair settlement you deserve. 

Enter this process carefully and armed with knowledge. Your primary point of contact when it comes to negotiating your claim is likely to be an insurance adjuster. This person may act friendly and sound like your friend, but in reality, they are on the side of the insurance company.  

A personal injury attorney is one of your greatest assets throughout the negotiation process. Keep reading to learn more about settlement negotiations and the options available to you.   

Who Is an Insurance Claims Adjuster? 

Insurance adjusters go by a range of job titles, including claims representative, claims specialist, car insurance adjuster, and independent claims analyst. Whatever title they use, their job is essentially the same: Negotiating settlement amounts with injured people and their attorneys.  

Often, the insurance claims adjuster will be employed by the insurance company itself. Other times, they are from an independent firm. In some cases, an attorney negotiates on behalf of an at-fault company or entity. While an attorney might be savvier than an adjuster about the law, they cannot do anything a regular insurance claims representative may not do.   

In all these instances, the adjuster’s goal is to settle your case quickly and for as little money as possible. As a representative of the insurance company, they know their job is on the line and will do what it takes to close the claim without involving supervisors or holdups.      

The adjuster’s goal is to settle your case quickly and for as little money as possible.

RELATED: Should I Talk to an Insurance Adjuster After a Car Accident?  

Steps in the Settlement Negotiation Process  

Below, you’ll find a general outline of the negotiation for most personal injury cases, such as those following a car accident, truck accident, slip and fall, defective product, or trampoline accident.  

It’s important to understand, however, that negotiation doesn’t always follow a perfect script, and can be more of an art than a science. Your attorney can help you navigate these steps with confidence and protect you from inadvertently harming your claim. 

1. Make a Personal Injury Claim  

This is the very beginning of your negotiations with the insurance company and will put you on the adjuster’s radar. It lets them know you believe one of their customers is responsible for your injury. Usually, you can do this step over the phone or with an online form. 

We recommend filing the claim as soon as possible. Insurance companies often have their own deadlines for filing claims, so check with the at-fault’s insurer to make sure you’re within the time frame.    

2. Receive a Reservation of Rights Letter 

After you file a claim, you will probably receive a reservation of rights letter from the insurance company. The letter is an acknowledgement of your claim and the insurance company’s investigation of it.  

The reservation of rights letter will also clearly state that the insurance company’s investigation of the claim does not mean they will necessarily accept liability or agree that the incident falls under their policy.  

3. Send a Demand Letter 

This step might happen quite a while after the accident. It’s best to wait until you are fully healed, or at least have a reliable estimate of the costs of ongoing treatments and future lost income.  

Be sure to send the demand letter well before the statute of limitations, which is the deadline for filing a lawsuit. For a personal injury case in Texas, this is two years. 

Your demand letter should include details on your:  

  • Injuries  
  • Medical bills 
  • Lost income 
  • Estimated future costs and losses.   
  • Pain and suffering 
  • Emotional distress 

Ultimately, the demand letter demands a specific amount of financial compensation. This amount should be well above what you actually need to cover your costs — an amount you have in mind but never tell the insurance adjuster. 

An attorney can help you pinpoint the most important details and calculate costs, especially when it comes to harder-to-define losses like pain and suffering.  

RELATED: Car Accident Victim Quickly Settles His Claims with Help from Crosley Law: Booker W.’s Story 

4. Receive a Settlement Offer 

Most likely, the insurance company will respond with a settlement offer that’s much lower than you specify in your demand letter (a “low ball” offer). In fact, it might be so low that it’s meant to test how well you know your own case and if you mean to negotiate for fair compensation — in which case you can ignore it and move on to a counteroffer.   

If the insurance company’s offer is too low but not quite absurd, feel free to ask for detailed justification. This will give you points to address in your counteroffer. 

If the insurance company’s offer is too low but not quite absurd, feel free to ask for detailed justification. This will give you points to address in your counteroffer. 

5. Make a Counteroffer 

This is where negotiations truly begin for an injured person and their family. It’s important to demonstrate that you plan to fight for what you deserve, but are willing to negotiate within reason. The insurance adjuster will not hesitate to take advantage of you if they think you’ll easily agree to less money. But if you seem unwilling to budge, it’ll only stall negotiations.  

Often, injured people come down a little bit from their original demand in the first counteroffer, though you’ll still want to stay well above your absolute bottom line. Focus on staying close to where you started, not on getting closer to the insurer’s offer.   

Of course, you’re not required to lower your demand. If you can refute the insurance company’s justifications for their offer and clearly emphasize your strongest points (not restating every detail but highlighting the big picture), you can try again for your original demand.  

If your demand letter focused on your economic losses and physical injuries, provide a little more detail on the emotional struggles, missed opportunities, and decreased quality of life. A broken leg might not sound so terrible on its own, but if it seriously altered academic or professional plans for years to come, that’s a different (and perhaps more convincing) story. Again, a lawyer is a great asset as you navigate these challenges.  

RELTATED: Getting Fair Compensation for Pain and Suffering After a TBI: Kaegan’s Story 

6. Be Ready for Some Back and Forth 

Often, it takes a few rounds of offers and counteroffers to reach an agreement on the settlement amount. A few things you might realize during the volley include: 

  • The adjuster might have more general knowledge about insurance claims than you do, but you know more about your own case. Adjusters deal with numerous claims every month, and simply can’t know all the details of each one. Use this to your advantage.  
  • Insurers covering government and municipal bodies tend to keep a tighter grip on the money because they’re dealing with taxpayer dollars. The entities they represent don’t want a reputation for spending money on legal trouble.   
  • Saying as little as possible about your part in the accident is wise. No matter how obvious it is to you that someone else is at fault, you still might say something that the insurance adjuster can twist to put some of the blame on you. Instead, concentrate on the negative impacts you’ve faced since the incident.  
  • The insurance company doesn’t want you to work with an attorney. Most people don’t have a lot of experience dealing with personal injury claims and negotiations, giving the insurer the upper hand. Once you bring in a lawyer, they lose that advantage.  

The insurance company doesn’t want you to work with an attorney. Most people don’t have a lot of experience dealing with personal injury claims and negotiations, giving the insurer the upper hand. Once you bring in a lawyer, they lose that advantage.  

7. Know When it’s Time to File a Lawsuit 

If you’ve gone back and forth with the insurance company and it’s clear that you’re not going to reach an agreement, you may have to escalate by filing a personal injury lawsuit. Ideally it won’t come to this, but it’s still better than getting an unfair settlement.  

Remember that a lawsuit must be filed before the statute of limitations, which is two years from the date of the injury. A personal injury attorney will be helpful in managing timelines and knowing how to move forward with a lawsuit.    

8. Consider Mediation 

This potential mediation step could happen before or after you file a lawsuit to keep negotiations from escalating to the next step (be it a lawsuit or court trial).  

Mediation is a way to try to resolve the disagreement with the help of a neutral third party. The mediator does not make any decisions on the case, but helps the parties have a healthy, effective discussion — and hopefully come to an agreement.   

Every single step of negotiating with an insurance adjuster is easier if you work with an experienced personal injury attorney. Not only do they bring the skills and knowledge to help your case, but their involvement sends a clear message to the insurance company that you are serious about getting compensated fairly.   

RELATED: Everything You Need to Know About Texas Car Accident Settlements 

Every single step of negotiating with an insurance adjuster is easier if you work with an experienced personal injury attorney.

Will My Insurance Claim End With a Settlement or Trial? 

Most personal injury cases settle (the sides reach an agreement on an amount of money) without going to trial. 

However, if you’ve negotiated, mediated, and even filed a lawsuit and the at-fault party and their insurance company still won’t agree to fair compensation, you may have to end negotiations entirely and leave it to a judge and jury. In that case, you’d be hoping for a jury award rather than a settlement.  

While a good lawyer will try to settle a case fairly, they should also be willing to go to trial if that’s what it takes to get the compensation you deserve.  

RELATED: Aggressive Tactics Lead to a $178,000 Settlement for a Pedestrian 

Crosley Law Will Handle the Insurance Company 

The team at Crosley Law has a lot of experience handling a range of personal injury cases and takes negotiations very seriously. If you or someone you love needs legal guidance and representation after an injury, our law firm is ready to hear your story.  

We begin every case with a free consultation. These initial calls and discussions come with no risk or pressure and are intended to help everyone get to know each other better at the beginning of an attorney-client relationship.  

To schedule your free case evaluation today, call (210) LAW-3000 | (210) 529-3000 or use the easy contact form on our website. We look forward to hearing from you!   

References 

Goguen, D. (n.d.). Insurance adjusters: who they are and how they handle an insurance claim. NOLO. Retrieved from https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/insurance-adjusters-who-they-are-how-they-handle-injury-claim.html  

Goguen, D. (n.d.). Tips for negotiating an injury settlement with an insurance company. NOLO. Retrieved from https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/negotiating-with-insurance-company-29765.html 

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject. 

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