In this article, I’ll share some of my best tips for how to negotiate insurance settlements to get more for your injuries.
Many people do not understand how insurance companies value injury claims. They think that if the insurance company just understood what happened, it would fairly pay for the harm caused by its insured.
However, this is rarely the case.
Here are three things I like to share with people when they call and ask how they can get more from the insurance company on their own. You don’t always need a lawyer to negotiate and show that your injuries should require more financial compensation.
How Do Insurance Companies Value Injury Claims?
First, let’s discuss how insurance companies estimate what an injury claim is worth.
Much of the time, insurance adjusters use computer software to figure out how much they’re willing and able to pay out on a claim. An insurance adjuster, using this kind of software, will enter certain values based on your diagnoses, your treatments, and your documented symptoms, and the software will generate a dollar value for your claim.
While that number may feel unfair and is different from how a jury would look at your claim, if you’re going to settle a case without hiring a lawyer, you have to understand how insurance companies do their job.
This means that to get the most from an insurance claim, it has to be well-documented. You must have all of your medical records and medical bills. Wage stubs to show how much you earned, and where possible, doctor’s notes keeping you out of work. Make sure your doctors completely document all of your symptoms and how the injury affects your life. Remember that, for most insurance companies, if a symptom or condition doesn’t show up in your medical record, it doesn’t exist.
Take Plenty Of Good Photos
Along the same lines, good photographs can help your case.
There are some do’s and don’ts when it comes to taking pictures after a car accident, but you want clear images that give some context to what the viewer is seeing. Most people make the mistake of taking their pictures way too close up and the viewer has no sense of what they’re seeing. I’ve been sent hundreds of photos over the years in which I had no idea what I was looking at. Don’t make that mistake!
If you’re not sure, ask a friend or family member to take a look at your photos and let you know what they see in a picture. If you didn’t happen to get your pictures at the crash site, check with your repair shop or your own insurance company to see if they took pictures of the property damage.
Select the ones that are most representative of the severity of the crash to share with the insurance company.
Pro tip: if there isn’t much damage to your vehicle, don’t send those photos. Insurance companies will use these to argue that, if the vehicle isn’t damaged, the person inside isn’t either.
Focus On Your Life, Not Your Insurance Claim
My next tip is to take care of yourself.
You may be surprised to learn that what’s good for you as a person is also good for your injury claim.
Never choose to do something or avoid doing something because you’re worried about how it’ll affect your case. Everyone can spot this, and it doesn’t look good.
That said, make sure you get medical care. Even if you’re the type of person that wants to tough it out, it’s the doctors who can tell us what’s wrong with you and how it can be fixed or treated.
Gaps In Medical Treatment
Long stretches without medical care, especially right after a crash are called gaps in treatment by insurance companies and defense lawyers.
Insurance companies will then use these gaps to argue that you weren’t hurt or that you’ve fully recovered, and this can be fatal to your claim.
At the same time, you’ve got to live your life and don’t focus on your insurance claim or settlement. Do your best to do the things that you love to do or that you have to do. And if you can’t or if it hurts too much to do these things, then back off.
There are a lot of virtues to this approach. It’s honest, the people who see you trying may turn out to be great witnesses, and everyone roots for someone who’s doing their best.
Review Your Medical Records
Finally, remember that insurance companies only care about what’s in the medical record when it comes to deciding how much they’re willing to pay you for your claim.
So, for that reason, make sure that you spend time with your healthcare providers at each visit, bringing them up to speed on your symptoms and impairments.
Even minor aches and pains must be documented each time you see a provider, and don’t worry about repeating yourself, because insurance companies count the number of times you report symptoms. Be sure to share stories with your providers of events missed, workdays you’ve had to skip, and how the injuries affected your relationships.
Remember, the more complete and accurate the medical record is, the better your chances of getting a fair settlement for your claim.
So these are my top tips for getting the most from your insurance claim on your own. Good luck and let me know if I can help.