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When the Insurance Company Calls

Don’t be alarmed, they’re going to call you, especially if they know their client is at fault.

When they do call be polite, but decline to talk.
Insurance companies' claims adjusters are professional negotiators, with extensive experience in intimidation, "schmoozing," and using every psychological technique to maneuver a claimant into settling for the lowest possible dollar, including discouraging people from using the professional services of a lawyer or what type of doctor.

Never violate this basic rule:
Never give an oral statement to the other side’s insurance company.
If you do, you will regret it. Simply state, "I will be happy to answer all your questions, but I want them in writing so that I have a record of what we discussed." They may then go to say, all I want to know is how you are and are you seeing a doctor? Get the request of info in writing. PERIOD!

Claims adjusters are from "central casting." They are hired because they "sound good" over the telephone and they are well trained by company lawyers to ask questions in a manner designed to hurt you and help them. You cannot beat an expert at their game.
Do not try it. Once again, simply say "thank you for calling but I am not prepared to discuss this matter with you at this time and would prefer all communications by mail."

If you are going to try to settle the claim yourself, go about it just like you would negotiate the sale of anything else.
First, determine your settlement goal based on your total expenses and what you have to go through because of the other person's negligence. Anyone who negotiates directly with a carrier probably will not be hiring a lawyer but keep the threat alive.

While this sounds like an ad for lawyers, the truth is that studies have shown that experienced lawyers have negotiated settlements that are multiples of what individual claimants can negotiate for themselves.
If you have suffered a serious injury, always hire an experienced trial lawyer to represent your interests.

To successfully negotiate a claim with an insurance company the basic rules of negotiation MUST be followed.

First, set a realistic goal before you begin negotiating. This is critical.
Do not begin a negotiation until you are absolutely sure that you know the full extent of your injuries and damages. If the damage has not run its course or if there is a chance of future damage yet to unfold, do not begin a negotiation. It is too early.

Second, just because an insurance adjuster calls and talks does not mean you have to talk.
Do not get into a discussion, no matter how tempted you may be to do so. Use the occasion to listen and when it’s over say: "I will think about it and get back to you."

Third, never bid against yourself or always negotiate in turn.
If you make a "demand" [an offer to settle by a claimant], then wait until the carrier makes an "offer." In other words don't make a demand for $15,000 at the beginning of a conversation and then at the end tell the adjuster you will take $10,000 today.
All that you will have done is to PROVE to the adjuster that you are a greenhorn that can be had for much lower a price. Make your demand and then wait for the carrier to make an offer.

Fourth, take your time. When you receive an offer, think about it.
Do not respond immediately. Claims adjusters know that if they can keep a claimant negotiating with the adjuster then there is a high probability of a successful settlement in favor of the insurance company. Do not expect to settle your case in one or two calls.
Give the process time. "No good wine before its time" also applies to negotiating with carriers. Once you receive an offer tell the adjuster you will "think about it."

Fifth, do not listen to anything but the number.
Insurance company adjusters take courses written by psychologists to use words and approaches that will give them the upper hand. They may sound nice on the phone, but these folks are professionals who eat claimants for breakfast. No matter what they say, ignore the words.
The only thing that counts is the number. Once you hear the number end the conversation: "I will think about it." Then go think about it before calling back with your responsive demand.

Sixth, carriers want to save litigation expenses.
You may obtain the best offer in the 30 to 60 days before the statute of limitations runs out on your claim, but if you cannot bring your claim to a final agreement before the statute runs, you will need to have a lawyer file a lawsuit for you to protect your right to collect the damages you have suffered.


The information provided to the public on this site is not legal advice. That can only come from a lawyer admitted to practice in your state once he/she learns all the facts concerning your situation. This site is for informational purposes only and not all of the material reflects the opinions of all parties affiliated with this site. The information provided is not guaranteed to be correct, complete or up to date. This material is not intended as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from an attorney. No person should act or rely on any information in this site without seeking the advice of an attorney. To find a qualified attorney in your area, first go to your state bars web site. In California that address is: www.calbar.ca.gov