There are many reasons why someone may try to settle their own insurance claim. They may think it's a pretty straightforward case, or they may have no idea that they can and should negotiate with their insurance company. They may believe they will save money by not hiring an attorney, or think they can't afford
to hire an attorney.
The fact is, most people lose out on money when they attempt to negotiate a settlement themselves. This happens because they may not know how to figure out what a fair settlement looks like, or because they don't negotiate effectively.
There are five big mistakes people make when trying to handle a person injury claim on their own. These mistakes can be the difference between a fair settlement and none at all.
- Believing you have a final offer from your insurance company. Many claims adjuster will either infer or present their offer as "final" and that's because without an attorney, an individual cannot take their case to court. The insurance company has all the leverage and feels no need to negotiate.
- Settling before you know the extent of your injuries. You should not settle a claim before you have reached or have a good indication of what it will cost to get to maximum medical improvement. A quick settlement overlooks the future of your injury and costs it will incur past the immediate future.
- Believing the claims adjuster will treat you like your agent does. Insurance agents do a great job with customer service; it's their job. A claims adjuster's job is not customer service; it's making sure your claim costs as little as possible. Once you have been injured, you are no longer on the same side as your insurance company.
- Understanding the importance of documentation. The insurance company is not going to take anything you say at face value. This means that even small or livable injuries-whiplash is a good example-must receive as much attention as more serious ones, even if that's not how you would respond in a typical situation.
- Under or overvaluing your claim. If you undervalue your claim, the insurance company will likely be more than happy to write you a check and move on, and then you'll be on your own for future medical costs. If you overvalue your claim, it's likely to get rejected or be subjected to a much smaller "final" offer.
At Bouchillon, Crossan & Colburn, L.C., our attorneys have more than 40 years dedicated to giving clients the attention, advice, support and empowerment they need to effectively meet their goals. We are committed to the principle that all persons shall have equal justice under the law. If you or a loved one has been injured and is seeking a qualified personal injury attorney, contact our Huntington, West Virginia office to speak with an attorney about your case, or call 304-523-8451.