Is there a correct way to a successful claim negotiation? Yes there is. But you must be willing to play hard ball. I am not kidding you. Insurance companies are the very best negotiators out there. They know the
rules, and they know when to break them. They understand the system, and they can and will take advantage of the unwary.
It does not matter if you are dealing with a personal injury claim, a health insurance claim, or the total loss value of your car. Insurance companies will use "dirty techniques" to get you to settle for the
least amount possible. For example, in the case of a total loss, they will cut your rental car early so you do not have a car to drive. The only way to get money to go find another car is to settle your total loss right then.
How can you handle a good claim negotiation? Or better yet, how can you play hard ball and beat the insurance company? The best thing you can do is to document in writing everything about your claim. If the insurance company contacts you and tells you that the value of your car is at most
$10,000, then you need to tell them to put it on writing. Everything the adjuster says must be on writing. This makes insurance companies nervous because you can always show that an adjuster has misrepresented the facts or the law and they can be suit for bad faith.
You can ask the insurance adjuster to follow up in writing. However, you can also write a letter stating the highlights of your conversation. You can also ask the adjuster for written evidence of what they
say is in your policy or is required by law. For example, you can write the following:
Ms. Adjuster, per our conversation today, you have stated that you cannot provide a rental car for
more than three days. Please provide the pertinent statute that states that. You also told me that per my policy, I had agreed to go to arbitration if you and I disagree to the value of the settlement. Please provide the exact policy language, noting page, paragraph, policy edition, and all pertinent definitions.
You are now binding the insurance company to its words. If you send a letter to the insurance company, make sure you send it certified or at least you get delivery confirmation; if you ever need to prove that you did send it, then you can do that with no problems.
Documenting everything with the insurance company is also an effective way to avoid the common technique of "changing adjusters." Insurance companies and their managers know when the "claim negotiation" is not going their way. They love to switch adjusters on you so you have to renegotiate
points that you have already settle on. Most insurance companies will tell you that the adjuster went on vacation, is ill, left the insurance company, or that they had to reassign the claim for some other reason. Although this could be legitimate, it is also very convenient. Be aware.
If you have everything documented, a new adjuster cannot just tell you: "well sir, I am sorry Bob said that he would give you $7,000 for your car, that is clearly a lot more than I would ever be able to give you, I can only settle for $5,500." If you do not have anything in writing, then you could have an uphill battle getting the value back to $7,000. But if you have this in a letter, you can show it to a lawyer, a jury, or the office of the department of insurance. You've got them!
The only way you can really beat the insurance company is by making sure everything is in writing, every negotiation, every law, every quote or estimate. This is the only way you can hold the insurance company up to their promises.