Should I Negotiate Directly With The Insurance Company?
We've observed a trend during challenging times. Those who have been hurt - whether in an accident, fall, animal attack or medical error, attempting to "resolve" their "claim" with the insurance company.
It's understandable why this happens - people are concerned about finances (particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic), and may feel a sense of pressure to get the matter resolved quickly. They may think that lawyers will only slow the process. This is understandable, but also wrong, for several reasons.
Before we move any further, let's be clear - we recommend that you do not settle any claim with an insurance company without, at the very least, talking with a lawyer. We offer complimentary consultations in these cases, so there is no downside to having a conversation.
Now that we've got that out of the way, let's look at why we recommend this.
1. Insurance companies have vastly different goals than you.
This may seem obvious, but the liability insurance company is not on your side. Their job after an accident or claim is to save as much money as possible. It is not to "do the right thing" or "make you whole". They may suggest this, but it's wrong. Insurance companies are businesses, and businesses don't make money by spending more than they need to.
2. It will be tempting.
If you were in an accident, you may receive a call from an insurance adjuster for the other party. The adjuster may tell you that this is something that you can quickly "work out." They may dangle some money in front of you. Don't fall for it. There are multiple considerations when negotiating with an insurance company, not the least of which is whether you have actually healed from the accident and what the future might look like. A quick, "work it out" settlement does not account for these.
3. You get one bite at the apple.
Remember this - once you settle a claim following an accident, you will be precluded from ever making that claim again. Period. An insurance company will require that you sign a general release after an accident, which effectively says that you will never make a claim against the wrongdoer (or the insurance company) for anything relating to this accident again. The failure to consider this can be devastating in the future if your injuries get worse.
4. Working with a lawyer does not have to slow it down.
A common perception is that if you work with a lawyer after an accident, it will take months or years to resolve your claim. Sometimes this is true - if a lawsuit has to be filed, it may take months or even a year or more to resolve a successful case. This is not, however, always the case. If your injuries are certain, and the insurance company has been reasonable, there are many occasions on which we are able to assist in settling the case relatively quickly. But keep in mind that "relatively quickly" does not mean recklessly, or on the insurance company's terms. It is absolutely critical that your case is properly evaluated to determine whether the amount being offered is sufficient.
5. "But if I hire a lawyer I'll get less because of the lawyer's fee."
A common thought, but in our experience one that is not true. In our experience, an insurance company will offer substantially more to resolve a case when a reputable law firm is involved. Why? Because they have a legitimate concern that if the case is not resolved, the firm will file a lawsuit and take the case to trial if necessary. They do not like this uncertainty, and it can lead to increased valuation of the case. While every case is different, we feel strongly that our involvement has led to significantly larger recoveries for our clients.
In conclusion, if you have been hurt in an accident, and are thinking of negotiating directly with an insurance company, do yourself a favor and, at a minimum, have a quick conversation with an attorney. We have these conversations all the time, and you will be doing yourself a disservice by ignoring the reality of the settlement process.
Feel free to contact us today to discuss your case.