Insurance companies try to drive the resolution of your claim because the less they pay out, the more profit they make. Like many Pennsylvania residents, you just want the process to end. Accepting the first settlement offered to you by the insurance company might sound like a good idea, but it will more than likely fail to include all of the compensation you deserve.
Insurance companies often use the following reasoning to justify their settlement offers or to deny your claim:
- You caused or contributed to the accident.
- You failed to substantiate the amount of your claim.
- You provided inadequate documentation of your claim to validate your claim.
The insurance company counts on the fact that you might not know the true value of your claim or understand how the law treats the pursuit of compensation after a car accident.
So what can I do?
You can attempt to negotiate a better settlement. Before doing so, you should consider the following:
- Figure out the minimum amount you would accept as a settlement. Consider any future medical or other needs in that number.
- Certain facts might validly reduce the amount of your claim.
- If the initial offer, or a counteroffer, does not meet your needs, do not accept it.
- Make the insurance company explain its reasoning behind the settlement offer and respond to those concerns.
- Do not forget the emotional and psychological impact of the accident. More than likely, you suffered more than just physical injuries. For example, you might suffer from a debilitating anxiety to drive or ride in a car.
You could also retain an attorney to assist you with the claims process. He or she knows how insurance companies operate, the strategies they employ to minimize or deny your claim, and how to help ensure that you receive a fair settlement. The insurance company might not get the last say on the value of your claim, however. If an adequate settlement cannot be reached, a lawyer could file a personal injury claim on your behalf in a Pennsylvania civil court.
In addition, insurance companies must follow certain rules when dealing with your claim. A failure to do so could result in a claim that the company operated in "bad faith." When an attorney becomes involved, insurance companies tend to take notice and may often work harder to stay within the rules and reach a satisfactory settlement within a reasonable time.