Most adjusters function like Henry Hard-Nose of Rock Solid Insurance Corporation. They’re thick skinned and difficult to deal with. Below is a typical verbal exchange a month or so after you and Hard-Nose had last met in an attempt to settle. At that time he had taken the position that the injury to your shoulder was not as serious as your attending physicians Medical Report stated it was. (Question: Do they fight what your attending physician wrote in their report? Answer: Yes, absolutely! Take it from Dan, who was on that firing line for over 30 years).
The following is a typical verbal settlement exchange after your last meeting had ended “up in the air” – – slowing floating around out there in outer space.
You first – – and here’s the counter argument you should make: “Look, with all due respect, you are not a doctor. You’re no medical expert who has the know-how to second-guess my doctor. When we last met you said my shoulder was ‘only a bruise’ as opposed to a dislocation. I have again talked to my doctor and he remains firm about the accuracy of his original diagnosis. He states that I absolutely suffered a dislocation of my shoulder. But, even apart from his analysis, I’m the best judge of my own injury – – that is, how painful my life has been, and the suffering I’ve had to endure“.
At that point Hard-Nose will always attempt his usual tactic of interrupting your logic but stiffen up, wave him off and say, “Look, let me finish. You owe me that because it was your insured who flew through a Stop Sign and bashed into me. You and I both know he’s one hundred percent at fault and if this talk about settling for my “pain and discomfort” gets any more one-sided I’m gonna be left with no choice but to hire myself a lawyer.”
Hard-Nose will stiffen up! Now, you proceed, “How is it sir, that its been over three months since this accident and there are times when I still suffer excruciating pains? How is it that I can’t lift things like I used to? The truth is it hurts, it bothers me and it has disabled me. I’ve been enduring it but it’s been awful and it has disrupted my life terribly. My shoulder is not a ‘mere bruise’ to me sir. Neither does my doctor say it is. He states that my shoulder was definitely dislocated and it will take several more months to clear up”!
All of the above is an example of your central approach to the predictably belligerent, difficult-to-deal-with adjuster. You should be firm and aggressive but not hostile. Yours should be a thoughtful presentation that relies on the power and persuasiveness of a sound demand adequately documented and properly communicated.
The three crucial questions you must ask Hard-Nose are:(#1) How much will you pay me for the damage to my motor vehicle and all other provable property damage? (#2) How much will you pay me as a fair settlement for my provable lost wages and medical expenses? (#3) How much will you pay me for my disability and my “Pain and Suffering”?
In most instances Hard-Nose will head for the hills – – unwilling to give you a straight answer. He’ll sidestep and do a slow waltz by asking you a loaded question like, “Okay, what do you think your claim is worth?”
Such a question is predictable because Hard-Nose prefers that you’re the one who makes the settlement demand first. Why? Because you may ask for less than what he was preparing to offer! And also because, if you make an excessive demand, he won’t have committed himself to an offer which will have left no room for further negotiations. In other words, Hard-Nose is in his best position to exercise “command and control” over the manipulation (and setting) of the dollar amount to be paid when it’s you that makes the settlement demand first, rather than he making the settlement offer. Don’t provide him with this advantage!
To win this crucial “game” he must suspect you’re close to obtaining a lawyer to handle your case so you should insist on the offer (one that’s realistic and made in good faith) to come from him before you make your demand. Why? Because at that point it’s all about who gets to control the value of your claim – – you or Hard-Nose?
It’s not sufficient for Hard-Nose to merely come up with a phony offer. You must insist upon, and hold out, until he makes the first offer and that it’s a realistic one. Then, and only then, is when you should respond with your own first counter-demand. Up until that point never let him know what you’d be willing to settle for. If you do you’ll lose control and that could cost you big bucks!
To learn more about how to handle and evaluate your motor vehicle accident claim, read Dan Baldyga’s latest book AUTO ACCIDENT PERSONAL INJURY INSURANCE CLAIM (How To Evaluate And Settle Your Loss). It can be found on the internet at http://www.autoaccidentclaims.com or your favorite bookstore.
Copyright (c) 2003 by Daniel G. Baldyga. All Rights Reserved
DISCLAIMER: This claim tip ~ DEALING WITH HENRY HARD-NOSE ~ THE TYPICAL INSURANCE ADJUSTER is intended for background information. It’s purpose is to help people understand the motor vehicle accident claim process. Dan Baldyga makes any guarantee of any kind whatsoever NOR purports to engage in rendering any professional legal service, substitute for a lawyer, an insurance adjuster, or claims consultant, or the like. Where such professional help is desired IT IS THE INDIVIDUALS RESPONSIBILITY TO OBTAIN IT.