|The Insurance Corner|
|What To Do If An Adjuster Refuses To Cooperate|
THE THREAT OF OBTAINING A LAWYER: Advise the adjuster that you're at a point where you have no choice but to hire a lawyer. That's usually a wake-up call. There are three good reasons why insurance companies don't like to be involved in lawsuits: (1) the cost to the company immediately skyrockets the minute lawyers are hired and brought into the picture. (2) Adjusters often feel it's a black mark on their record to have a case taken from them and put into litigation because they were unable to handle the claim themselves. (3) Their insured (the person who caused your injury) won't be too happy to be involved in a lawsuit.
If, after consulting with an attorney, you believe he could better negotiate and reach a settlement for you; you may choose to hire him. A CRUCIAL NOTE: If you do hire an attorney, it's reasonable to ask him to waive any percentages of that amount of money you've already negotiated, and been offered.
GOING OVER THE ADJUSTERS HEAD: If you reach an absolute impasse and don't see any way to ever get your claim settled by negotiating with the adjuster you can always go over the adjuster's head to his direct supervisor or even the local Vice President of their Claim's Department.
If you decide to do this be sure to have your claim number, the name of their insured, the name of your adjuster and any other relevant information the supervisory may need to locate your file. (When you call just simply ask for the person in charge of the adjuster you're currently dealing with). Once you're in contact with that person be prepared to allow them some time to examine your file. They'll probably not be familiar with your claim and will need a week or two to review it and talk to the adjuster before being in a position to discuss it with you.
SMALL CLAIMS COURT: You can file a claim in small claims court on your own. Small Claims Court is often referred to as the "user friendly" court. Most cases are filed and decided without lawyers. The amount of the legally determined award that a Small Claims Court is allowed to make is different in every state - - ranging from a low of $1,500.00 to a high of $15,000.00. Most state statutes figures fall between $3,000.00 to $5,000.00. The bottom line is, for example, if you've only been made a settlement offer of $800.00. and you implement your Small Claims Court advantage, in a state where the statute sets their Small Claims Court top dollar settlement at $3,000.00, the adjuster and his supervisor are going to blanch, inhale a deep breath and take a much better look at their last offer.
"GOOD FAITH" vs. "BAD FAITH": The insurance company has a statutory duty to negotiate in, and make a "good faith" effort, to reach a settlement of your claim. Each state's statutes define what constitutes "bad faith", so be sure and check your state's statutes at your local library. If you believe the adjuster is not negotiating in good faith" you can put it in writing and send it to the adjuster's supervisor. Sending a letter expressing your belief may be all that's needed to motivate the adjuster into some honest negotiations intended to reach a settlement agreement. PLEASE NOTE: Disagreeing over the value of a claim is usually not considered "bad faith".
Each state has a State Department of Insurance to ensure compliance with the state's insurance statutes, rules and regulations. If all else fails, the mere threat of filing a complaint with the State Insurance Department often motivates the insurance company into some positive action to be made on your claim.
Dan Baldyga's fourth and latest book Auto Accident Personal Injury Insurance Claim: (How To Evaluate And Settle Your Loss) can be found on the Internet at http://www.autoaccidentclaims or http://www.caraccidentclaims.com. This book reveals "How To" successfully handle your motor vehicle accident claim, so you won't be taken advantage of. It also goes into detail regarding the revolutionary BASE (The Baldyga Auto Accident Settlement Evaluation Formula). BASE explains how to determine the value of the "Pain and Suffering" you endured - - because of your personal injury.
Copyright (c) 2003 by Daniel G. Baldyga All Rights Reserved
DISCLAIMER: The only purpose of this claim tip is to help people understand the motor vehicle accident claim process. Neither Dan Baldyga, Vince Ciulla nor About.com make any guarantee of any kind whatsoever; NOR do they purport to engage in rendering any professional or legal service; NOR to substitute for a lawyer, an insurance adjuster, or claims consultant, or the like. Where such professional help is desired it is the INDIVIDUAL'S RESPONSIBILITY to obtain said services.