If you have been involved in an accident and are seeking compensation through an insurance claim, it’s important to learn how to negotiate a settlement with an insurance claims adjuster.
For anyone who is in the initial stages of an insurance claim and has never dealt with an insurance claim before, the prospect of engaging in complex negotiations can produce anxiety and become frustrating.
You may find yourself searching for information with terms like “how to negotiate with insurance adjuster,” or “negotiating insurance settlement.” While you can find some helpful information about negotiating with an insurance adjuster, it’s always important to have an experienced Georgia car accident lawyer on your side who can advocate for your rights.
In the meantime, the dedicated personal injury lawyers at Blasingame, Burch, Garrard & Ashley, P.C. want to provide more information about the process of insurance negotiations, and the steps that are essential for negotiating a favorable settlement.
1. Determining Where to File an Insurance Claim
Georgia auto insurance law requires all drivers to be insured, and business owners also are required to have insurance in the event that accidents and injuries occur on their premises. Regardless of where your accident and injuries occurred, the first step in negotiating an insurance settlement is filing an insurance claim.
Depending upon the type of accident and how it happened, you may have a couple of different options for filing an insurance claim. For example, if you are injured in a car accident, you often can choose whether to file a first-party claim with your own insurance company or a third-party claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
If you are injured in a slip and fall accident at a local business, you will typically file an insurance claim with the business’s insurance company. No matter where you file, however, it’s important to remember that the insurance company is not your advocate. This takes us to the next step.
2. Sending a Demand Letter
Once you have filed an insurance claim, you can craft a demand letter that will become the beginning of the settlement negotiations process. Your demand letter should outline all of the damages you incurred, including but not limited to:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering
Under Georgia law, the insurance company is required to take a number of steps to move toward compensating you for your losses. This begins with investigating your claim and the damages you outlined in your demand letter. During this period, the claimant has to wait to receive a settlement offer from the insurance adjuster. When insurance companies do not take the steps required under Georgia law, the claimant may be able to seek damages for bad faith.
3. Recognizing that the Insurance Adjuster is Not on Your Side
When you are in the process of filing a claim and negotiating a settlement, it’s essential to recognize that insurance companies are businesses. To be clear, they are not advocating for their policyholders. As such, it’s important for anyone who has filed an insurance claim to recognize the insurance adjuster is not on their side.
The sooner a claimant understands that the insurance adjuster does not have his or her best interests in mind, the sooner that claimant can take steps to ensure he or she remains eligible for compensation and is able to make a strong case for a favorable settlement.
Since an insurance adjuster is only looking out for the best interests of the insurance company from a business perspective, the goal is usually to pay out as little money as possible. Most insurance adjusters use tactics within the bounds of the law, but in some cases, insurance adjusters can engage in bad faith by failing to investigate a claim or failing to make a reasonable settlement offer.
4. Receiving a Settlement Offer and Making a Counteroffer
Most claimants, after a period of time, will receive a settlement offer from the insurance adjuster. In most cases, you should not accept the first offer you receive. Instead, you should work with an experienced Georgia accident lawyer to negotiate with the adjuster for a better settlement offer.
At the same time, you should maintain realistic expectations for what you will receive from a settlement offer. A fair settlement should compensate you for the losses you outlined in your demand letter. If the insurance adjuster tries to low-ball you, or if the insurance adjuster failed to conduct a thorough investigation into your claim, then it’s important to learn more about bad faith claims from a Georgia insurance lawyer.
Even if the settlement offer is almost where you want it to be, your attorney can help you make a counteroffer to receive fair compensation from the insurance company.
Contact a Claims Settlement Attorney in Georgia
If you need assistance negotiating an insurance settlement, a Georgia personal injury lawyer at our firm can help. Contact Blasingame, Burch, Garrard & Ashley, P.C. today to learn more about the services we provide to Georgia clients.
We have offices in Atlanta, Athens, and Lake Oconee and take cases across the state of Georgia. We offer free consultations and there is no fee unless we win your case.