How to Navigate a Lowball Insurance Settlement Offer
It's common knowledge that some insurance companies will try to lowball you, or give you an unfairly low settlement offer, when you try to file a claim for your injuries. Although this practice is unethical, that doesn't stop insurance companies from doing it. Our team lays out some common insurance tactics that you should be aware of, as well as how you should respond when you are not happy with the settlement offer you have been given.
What Are Common Insurance Tactics When An Insurance Adjuster Is Trying to Lowball You?
The techniques outlined below are some of the strategies unscrupulous insurance adjusters may use to decrease the damages a claimant should reasonably be able to expect.
Some adjusters may conveniently “neglect” to offer to pay damages the claimant is entitled to, such as money for a rental vehicle during the time the claimant’s car is being repaired or lost wages incurred by the claimant. Instead, the adjuster may inform the claimant he or she should arrange for transportation with a friend or co-worker and that the claimant should use vacation time or sick leave.
Some adjusters may not even offer to reimburse the medical bills the claimant has incurred resulting from the accident. The adjuster may instead advise that the claimant use the employer’s policy or her or his personal medical coverage. Watch out for this tactic, and know your rights when it comes to what the insurance company should legally pay for.
If the claimant is self-employed, owns a small business or is a lawyer, dentist, or doctor, the adjuster may assume the claimant cannot afford the time off to litigate a claim. Many times this assumption is correct. Therefore, the adjuster realizes claimants in these categories may be more likely to accept a smaller amount of damages for their claim so as to resolve it in a shorter period of time. Don't fall for this! At the end of the day, if your injuries force you to take off of work, our team can help you recover lost income as part of your personal injury claim.
Deceitful Settlement Authority
An adjuster may obtain a memo from his or her claims supervisor stating only a certain amount of money will be paid out to the claimant. Even though the adjuster knows the case is worth more, he or she can use the memo as evidence the insurance company is willing to pay only so much. At the end of the day though, if enough pressure is applied in the right areas, the insurance company will most likely be open to further negotiation. That's where our team comes in.
Some adjusters may use depreciation tables with no valid relationship to the claim at hand, or use excessive depreciation tables. A depreciation table is meant to indicate the loss in value of a certain asset over a period of time. For example, if your car was damaged in a car accident, the insurance agent may try to convince you that you deserve less of a payout for your vehicle because you've owned it for several years. This may or may not be the case. You should always confirm any suspicious depreciation tables with your attorney before accepting an offer.
Another tactic that may be used is for the adjuster to coerce a claimant to expend his or her own money to take care of a salvaged vehicle. This is by no means your responsibility, and the insurance company is oftentimes responsible to pay for any repairs your vehicle receives following your accident.
Why Do Insurance Companies Lowball?
At the end of the day, an insurance adjuster's job is to protect the company's bottom line. They are a business, after all, and their chief concern is making sure that they pay as little towards your claim as they can get away with. Don't be surprised when an insurance agent tries to give you a lowball settlement offer, instead, be prepared to challenge them.
How Do You Respond To a Lowball Settlement Offer?
If you believe your insurance company is giving you an unfairly low settlement offer, here's what you should do:
- Stay calm and take a close look at the offer; see if you can pinpoint the type of tactic they are using
- If you think you spot something wrong with the offer, ask the insurance agent some clarifying questions
- If you still disagree with their reasoning, present the facts to the agent again and try to encourage them to give a fairer offer
- If the insurance company is still unwilling to budge on their initial settlement offer, let them know you will be contacting a lawyer, and don't say anything else to them
At the end of the day, rejecting an initial settlement offer may be the right course of action for you. By speaking with an injury lawyer about your claim, you can ensure that you have a solid idea of how much your case is worth. You can also have your attorney speak to the insurance company on your behalf and try to work out a settlement agreement. If your lawyer needs to fight your case in court, that's something we're prepared to do.
Not Happy With Your Settlement Offer? We Can Help!
If you are concerned about the possibility of your insurance adjuster engaging in lowballing techniques and would like to visit with a knowledgeable accident attorney, please contact the Attorneys at Canan Law at (904) 849-2266 and request a free consultation.