Business & Finance

How to Handle an Insurance Company’s First Settlement Offer after a Car Accident

In the aftermath of a car accident—even a minor car accident—there is a lot you have to think about. “How will I pay for the repairs?”, How long will those repairs take?” “How will I get around until my car gets fixed?” These are only some of the questions that pop in mind. One question that may not immediately come to mind is how you are going to deal with the insurance company.

You may think that dealing with your insurance company is a fairly cut and dried affair, but that is rarely the case. You might have to go through a lot of negotiating and horse-trading before you get the settlement offer that you need. Fortunately, there is no need to go through all of that trouble by yourself because an auto accident lawyer can help you. They can negotiate on your behalf to make sure that you get a fair settlement offer. They can also review any paperwork to make sure that you are getting a fair deal and that there is no shady fine print that will come back to haunt you later. So, it is necessary to contact a lawyer as soon as you can after you have been in a car accident.

Do Not Immediately Accept The First Offer

An insurance company, like any other business, wants to make a profit. That is why their first settlement offer will always be lower than what you need. The insurance companies know that you will be desperate for money to pay your repair and/or medical bills and that you will be tempted to accept the first offer that comes along. That offer is likely going to be lower than what you need, which is why you should turn it down and renegotiate.

Furthermore, if you were injured during your accident, then those injuries could get worse over time, and the initial offer may not be enough to cover any later medical bills. If you have any qualms about negotiating with the insurance company, then you can hire an auto accident attorney to negotiate on your behalf.

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How to Deal With the Insurance Company

Aside from not accepting their initial offer, there are other things that you should know about dealing with the insurance company after a car accident:

1 Do Not Speak to Them Before Speaking With Your Lawyer

The insurance company will send an adjuster to examine your insurance claim and determine your settlement amount. However, they will try to give you the lowest possible value for your claim or deny it altogether. They will try to get you to agree to a lower settlement, and they will try to get that agreement on record. Do not do it. Instead, you should consult with an attorney before accepting any offers.

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2 Think Twice Before Taking Your Car to a Repair Shop that They Recommend

If your insurance company recommends a body shop, then it is likely that they did it for a reason. And the reason is likely that the body shop is cheap, and they are probably cheap because they cut corners and do shoddy work that looks fine at first but will fall apart later on. That could lead to more expenses later on that your insurance won’t cover. It is better to find a quality body shop even if your insurance company is reluctant to pay the higher price for the better work.

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3 You Can Appeal the Insurance Company’s Offer When They Total Your Vehicle

In some cases, the cost to repair a vehicle will be 70% or more of the vehicle’s value. If that is the case, then the insurance company may choose to total the vehicle, meaning that it is not worth repairing and is declared a loss. When that happens, the insurance company is supposed to offer you a settlement that is the fair market value of the vehicle. However, sometimes their offer is too low, in which case you should conduct your own research to find what your car is actually worth and use that knowledge to appeal the insurance company’s first offer.

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4 Fight Back against Their Delay Tactics

When you reject their first offer, the insurance company may start dragging their feet in order to delay your claim. They do so hoping that you will give up and accept their offer, or that you will miss the Statute of Limitations to file a personal injury lawsuit for the car accident. You can avoid their delay tactics by having your attorney call them for you since they will be less likely to be lackadaisical when an attorney is involved.

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5 Do Not Sign Anything that Has Not Been Reviewed by Your Lawyer

Any contract or agreement offered to you by your insurance company will have a lot of fine print that they are counting on you not to understand. You may be unwittingly giving up your right to file a lawsuit or pursue further damages if your injuries get worse. Have your lawyer review any paperwork you have to sign to make sure that you are not giving up any of your rights.

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Hire an Attorney Before Dealing With Your Insurance Company

You can see that a car accident attorney is vital when dealing with your insurance company. That is because the insurance company will have their best interests in mind while your attorney will have your best interests in mind. That means your lawyer will fight to get you the settlement amount that can cover your repair bills, medical bills, lost wages, and other injury-related expenses. So if you want to avoid getting lowballed by your insurance company, get a lawyer to play hardball with them for you.

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