I’m probably burning a bridge by telling you this, but negotiation is a claim adjuster’s main skill. Lawyers know this and enjoy the process, but claimants — like you — miss out. I bet you don’t realize how much you should be negotiating with your insurance claim adjuster. The amount he offers you is the bottom of a range he is allowed to offer. He is allowed to increase his offer if you provide information which affects the value. Regarding the total loss of your car, this information could be the pristine condition of your car’s interior or records indicating the car is optimally maintained. Keeping a journal of how an accident-related injury affects your daily life is an excellent way to provide information for negotiating with the adjuster on “pain and suffering” for the injury claim.
Total Loss Valuation of Your Car
Insurers base the value of cars on their own private databases, not on the Kelly Blue Book or Edmund’s. The legal phrasing is “fair market value.” This is supposed to be the average real sale price of cars in the geographical area. In reality, most of these databases get their information from vehicle registrations. They cover broad geographical areas and are heavily averaged. Find your own data from your immediate geographical area on how much cars similar to yours have sold for, and base your negotiations on that. Used car dealers are good sources for car sale prices.
Allow a doctor to determine if you are injured or not. If there is significant damage to your car, then do not say there are no injuries until you have seen a doctor. If the driver who caused the accident has insurance, then his insurance owes you whatever it costs to see the doctor and to treat any injuries caused or aggravated by the accident. Claim expenses for things like maid service and babysitting if you normally perform these duties but cannot because of a loss-related doctor’s order. If you have PIP, MED Pay or Uninsured motorist insurance, then your own insurance might pay these costs and seek reimbursement from your settlement. Ask the liability adjuster assigned to your own claim with your own insurance for specifics in your state.
Farmers Insurance only allowed us adjusters to pay for time off work if it was ordered by a doctor. Each insurer has its own philosophy on this, but they all will pay for lost work time that a doctor orders because of an injury caused by the covered accident. It gets trickier if you are in business for yourself. You may be asked to prove that you had actual work scheduled that you had to miss because of a doctor’s order. A letter from a client could provide such proof.
I Want Your Questions!
Please comment with questions I can use in future pages of “Ask an Adjuster Your Insurance Questions.”
Video: Secrets of Negotiating – Roger Dawson
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