If you are injured in an accident that is caused by another party, be prepared. An adjuster for the negligent party’s insurance company will contact you and give you a lowball insurance settlement offer. This might happen even before you have completed treatment for the injuries. The adjuster is the “face” of the insurance company. It is their job to settle your case as quickly – and cheaply – as they can.
There are many levels of adjusters inside an insurance company. You need to understand that the initial adjuster that contacts you may have only limited authority to settle your claim. What does that mean? Let’s assume that you were involved in a car accident and the person who hit you has a “100/300” policy. That means that they have coverage of up to $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident for bodily injury claims. The initial adjuster who handles your claim may not have authority to settle for the whole $100,000. He or she may only have authority up to $10,000. It really depends on their experience and the rules of the insurance company. So if your claim is worth more than a “nuisance value” settlement you may have to go higher up in the chain to avoid a lowball insurance settlement offer.
How Do Insurance Companies Come Up with Offers?
So just how do insurance adjusters decide the amount to offer to settle claims? Well, if you are lucky, an adjuster that is seasoned in negotiating claims handles your case. This means that they have had experience with the type of injury you have as well as the long term effects that may result, venue (where the action was brought) and the “settlement value” as well as “verdict value.” But as I said, unfortunately that is not always the case which results in a lowball insurance settlement offer. So where do insurance adjusters go for their information to settle a claim?
Many insurance companies use computer programs for this information. The adjuster feeds certain data in to a computer program. The program uses pre set codes that differentiate the type and gravity of your injury (called “severity codes”), information about the economic region (an injury in Bronx, New York may be worth more than an injury in Pocatello, Idaho), etc. The problem with these programs is that the adjuster can easily manipulate the inputted data to achieve the result that they wish on the case. The end result is lowball insurance settlement offer. Why? Because an adjuster is an employee of the insurance company. The Insurance Department in the state should regulate the company. However, more often than not they do as they see fit.
How to Avoid Settling for a Lowball Insurance Settlement Offer
Attempting to settle claims below their value – called negotiating in “bad faith” – hurts not only the injured party but also the policyholder. It can open the insurance company up to lawsuits from both sides. Policyholders pay their company every year for certain coverage with limits that should be available for settlement when they are involved in an accident. State law requires at least a minimum amount of car insurance (25/50) in order to drive in New York. Adjusters hold that money for ransom and make lowball insurance settlement offers when valid claims are made. Understanding all the components of a personal injury claim – the facts, the injury, the long term effects, settlement versus jury verdict – are what we do every day. The aftermath of a car accident can be overwhelming to deal with and insurance adjusters have an unfair advantage. Don’t let them bully you in to settling your claim. Let a top personal injury attorney help.