If you were involved in an accident where the other driver was liable, you will receive a settlement offer from their insurance company.
However, how should you respond to a settlement offer that was lower than you were expecting? A low settlement offer is also referred to as a ''low-ball'' settlement offer.
What is a Settlement Offer?
A settlement offer is a document produced by the insurance company for the driver responsible for the accident. It is an offer for a sum of money that you will receive in exchange for an agreement that you will not sue the party who was liable for your injuries.
However, you may receive a settlement offer for a lower amount than you were expecting and there may be many reasons for this.
The first reason may be that the insurance company has not received enough evidence in the form of medical bills etc. that support the amount detailed in your claim.
Another reason may be because the damage to your vehicle isn't deemed to be substantial enough to warrant a higher amount. The amount you are offered can also depend on whether you are suffering from any pre-existing injuries.
For example, if you were already suffering from a bad shoulder that was injured again in the crash you may be offered a lower amount because these injuries weren't primarily caused by the accident.
There are many other reasons why you may have received a low-ball settlement offer as the circumstances surrounding each crash differ. Understanding the reasons behind this offer can help to negotiate whether you deserve a higher amount.
Responding to a low settlement offer
How you respond to the low settlement offer will determine how successful you are in reaching a fair outcome. Despite the frustrations you may have regarding the amount that you were offered, you should respond appropriately.
We have detailed how you can respond to a low settlement offer below.
Remain Calm and Polite
While it may be tempting to respond quickly voicing your frustrations regarding the amount that you have been offered, you should avoid doing so. Ensure that you have thoroughly analyzed all of the details of the offer.
You will benefit from maintaining a professional relationship with the insurance company. Some may choose to hire an attorney to help them during the process.
It is also necessary to remember that it is an offer that isn't set in stone until you have accepted it and so there is room for further negotiations.
Raise Any Questions That You Have About The Offer
It is helpful to inquire with the insurance professional, ensuring that you raise any questions that you have regarding how they arrived at the amount you were offered.
In doing so, you will then have a clearer understanding of how your case and claim were investigated and this will allow you to make a more informed counteroffer.
Respond To Their Offer In Writing
Once you have gained answers to your questions by contacting the insurance adjuster you can then supply an informed written response.
Writing your response rather than verbally communicating your issues is preferable to ensure that the situation remains amicable and you refrain from venting your frustrations over the phone.
If you have enlisted the help of an attorney, they will be able to inform you of any faulty claims that are being made by the adjuster so you can acknowledge these in your response.
If the low settlement offer was due to the lack of supporting information or evidence that was provided with your claim, you can provide these additional documents.
You may also wish to include details regarding the impact that the injuries you have suffered have had upon you, along with the emotional impact of the experience.
Develop Your Counteroffer
When drafting your response to the low settlement offer you will need to have developed your counteroffer. A counteroffer is essentially an amount that you propose upon rejecting the original offer.
The adjuster can then accept, reject or make you another counteroffer. Responding straight away with an offer that seems rather high isn't recommended.
Many considerations are going to influence your counteroffer such as the amount that you feel you deserve, compensation for medical treatment that you have had to receive as a result of the accident, the limits of the insurance company, and the assets of the liable party.
Again, if you have sought the help of an attorney during the process, they will help you to create an appropriate counteroffer in response to your low offer. The amount that you propose in your counteroffer isn't necessarily going to be accepted straight away.
In fact, you may find that negotiations are ongoing for some time until both parties arrive at an amount which they are happy with.
Wait Until Your Injuries Have Healed Before Accepting The Offer
If you are still recovering or healing from injuries you should refrain from accepting an offer. This is because you aren't yet aware of the total cost that the medical bills will amount too.
Only agree on your settlement offer when you are fully aware of all costs that are going to be incurred, once you have signed the agreement you cannot backtrack.
Do Not Fall Victim To Pressure From Insurance Companies
When negotiating the offer with the insurance adjuster do not allow them to pressure you into accepting. You aren't obligated to respond to a certain amount of offers. In fact, you shouldn't feel pressured into accepting their offer until you are happy with the amount.
This is where the help of an attorney can be useful as their knowledge can strengthen any concerns and arguments that you put forward to the insurance adjuster.
How Do You Know When A Settlement Offer Is Good?
A fair settlement offer is one that provides you with compensation which ensures that you aren’t dealing with debt because of the medical treatment you have received as a result of the accident.
You will often find that yourself and the insurance adjuster begin with largely differing views regarding the amount that they feel you should be paid, however as negotiations proceed you will soon arrive at an amount that both parties are happy with.
If you have received a low settlement offer from an insurance company you don't have to accept it. As mentioned above there are many steps that you can follow to ensure that your concerns are received appropriately.
Although you are likely to have concerns over a low amount, you mustn't let these frustrations get in the way of a more favorable offer. Negotiation is going to be key and you shouldn’t accept the offer until you are happy that the amount is fair.
Many find it useful to enlist the help of an attorney, particularly in more serious cases as their professional knowledge can help you get the best response in this situation.