Four Things You Need to Know to Negotiate With Insurance Companies
Windstorms don’t sound that bad. Many people think, “What can wind do to my house, really?” But they can cause huge amounts of damage. Take Brenda Dellany for example. She bought a beautiful home on the Tennessee River, close to where her great-grandparents used to live.
One night a windstorm blew through the area. It was record-breaking, with massive gusts of wind howling like a pack of dogs. Her magnolia bushes were completely shredded within seconds, and debris from the forest was flying all around. It didn’t take long for a tree branch to come through her window. Luckily, nobody was hurt.
But Brenda had a tree branch in her living room and an expensive plate-glass window in pieces everywhere. She tried to negotiate with the insurance company, but they came back with a ridiculous offer that would never be enough to replace her window. Sadly, Brenda took the offer, thinking that it was the best she was going to get.
But she made a common mistake. She assumed that the first offer you get from the insurance company is the best. Insurance companies barter and negotiate all the time. Brenda didn’t take into account that insurance companies are businesses, and she paid for it.
How to Negotiate With Your Insurer
1. Don’t take their first offer. The first rule in negotiation is to start out with an outrageous offer. The insurance company is just like any other business. They will try to limit their costs any way they can. Take their first offer as a starting point for a negotiation, not the final settlement.
2. Get a lawyer. A qualified attorney who understands how insurance companies work and how to make an argument that they can understand will be very valuable when you try to make your claim. Also, knowing the legal ground you stand on can go a long way towards maintaining confidence while you make your claim.
3. Never sign a final settlement or release of liability without fully understanding the document. In the long run, it is cheaper for an insurance company to get a policyholder to settle quickly. They won’t have to waste time dealing with a pesky or outraged person and they will be free of liability if anything else were to happen as a result of the incident that initiated the claim. Take your time and make sure you are completely comfortable with your settlement before signing.
4. Keep a record of all contacts with your insurer. If you end up needing to go to court with your insurance company, you will need all the evidence you can get. Keep detailed records of all interactions with claims adjusters or other insurance officials. Keep all emails and even record conversations if you can. You never know what you might need.
Remember that you’re negotiating with your insurer. There is always leeway and room for argument in an insurance claim. That’s why an attorney can be such a valuable asset when dealing with the insurance company. They know the law, but more importantly, they know how insurance companies think.