How to Counter Offer an Auto Insurance Claim

The insurance adjuster sent you a settlement claim, and spoke on the phone, but you feel like you should receive a larger settlement. That would mean that you need to counter the insurance adjuster's offer. Without the proper knowledge, negotiating with an insurance company can be an intimidating task. They have experience negotiating and will often try to use intimidation tactics. Remember that their goal is to save their company money rather than assist you.

For example, if the adjuster knows that you are in a rush to get the settlement completed, then they will purposely drag out the negotiation process in order to pressure you into settling quickly for a low sum. It is important  that you do not take the low offer as an insult because the adjuster is just doing their job. Always remain calm and try to refrain from tipping your hand to the adjuster. If you use aggression or raise your voice, they will document it, so handle the negotiation process as calmly as possible. Keep important information close to the chest. Be careful of things you disclose to the adjuster because they are looking to find anything they can to give you a lower settlement..

Here are some tips and steps on how to counter an insurance adjuster's settlement offer.

Research the Auto Insurance Company

Research the auto insurance company of the defendant and verify whether they often go to court or settle before court. This is an important step when you are initially preparing to send your demand letter.

Determine What Your Claim is Worth

If you intend to tell the adjuster that you deserve a larger settlement, then you need to know what your claim is worth. You can do this with the sum of Special Damages and General Damages

Special Damages

Calculate the expenses incurred and earnings lost as a result of the accident. 

  • Cost of damage to your car/cost to replace it
  • Medical expenses 
  • Lost wages

It is important to have detailed records from all medical visits as a result of the accident. Do not leave any stone unturned because the insurance company is going to attempt to find any information that will give them an edge over you. A good idea is to keep a well detailed account of your road to recovery. Write down every medical facility that admitted you and make sure it matches up with your medical records. Explain pain levels and when pain started to either increase or decrease. The more information, the better your chances of a larger settlement.

General Damages

Non-economic damages such as pain and suffering, shock, distress, etc. General damages usually equal 1.5 to 5 times the amount of special damages.

Add Special and General Damages Together

Once you add the two together, you will have a good estimate of what your claim is worth. After you have that number you will want to adjust it and lower the amount based on the estimated money you would save by not going to trial.

Compare Your Number With The Adjuster's Number

Next, you will want to look over the adjuster's number and figure out how they got their number. For example, what reductions did they make? Which damages did they take into account? Try and compare where your numbers differ and go from there..

Prepare Your Counter-Offer

Once you have your number and feel like you are ready, then you will want to send a counter-offer letter to the insurance company. The letter should include:

  • A summary of the initial offer that was sent to you and explain why that was too low or not fully representing your injuries and costs.. 
  • Research and calculations to validate why you think it is too low. (i.e. the sum of special and general damages).
  • Attach all documents, such as bills, to also help back your claim. (you should also place any documentation you have made about pain and suffering).
  • Finally, give them the amount you will settle on. (Be assertive and firm in this. Do not use "estimate." Let them know that this is the number you are seeking).

You will want to send the letter directly to the claims representative rather than the insurance adjuster. The adjuster usually has the authority to send the initial offer, but can not take part in further negotiations at this point in your settlement. They may or may not take your counter-offer, but again, be patient in the process. You do not have to settle on the number they return back to you if it still does not meet the number you believe is accurate.

Brian Glass
Virginia personal injury lawyer selected to SuperLawyers Rising Stars List and the NTLA's Top 40 Under 40.