The Law Offices of John J. Finckbeiner Jr.
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Pushing back against a low first offer from insurance

You've paid for your motor vehicle insurance for years, possibly without any major claims. Suddenly, another driver who was distracted or negligent came out of nowhere and changed your life. Getting hurt in an accident causes more that just physical pain. It can cause major financial issues and lead to a substantially lower quality of life. On top of a damaged vehicle and mounting medical bills, you're probably also missing work until you heal to a certain point.

You file your insurance claim, knowing that the company you've faithfully paid will take care of you when you need it the most. Then you get a letter or a phone call advising you of their settlement offer. You consider it for a moment, but the amount seems quite low considering all that you've been through. Where do you go from here?

Determine what a fair settlement would look like

The best way to figure out if a settlement offer is fair is to create an estimate of the total expenses and losses you'll incur as a result of the accident. Look at the cost of repairing or replacing your vehicle. Look at your medical bills, both current and future. Will you need surgery later on, or continuing physical therapy? Have you missed work?

All of these factors and more impact how much an accident will cost you. If you receive a lump sum settlement, that can make paying for your expenses simple. It can also leave you without enough money to cover future expenses if you don't plan carefully. Look at past cases in your area with similar injuries and also look at the estimated healing time and medical expenses related to your crash before going forward.

Remember that an insurance company is a company

While you may have been a paying and loyal policy holder for years, when you have a big claim, you become a liability. An insurance company is a business, and they are in business to make money. They want to get rid of their liability for as little financial output as possible. Many times, customers are in desperate need for financial aid after an accident, so they will accept a low first offer without thinking it suspicious.

Someone with knowledge of local standards and precedent, as well as experience in working with insurance companies, can help you figure out what would be fair for your situation. You may find that your offer was really only a small percentage of what your claim is actually worth. Sometimes, it helps to have professional help when responding to your insurance company to advise them that the offer was too low.

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