Settling your own insurance claim without a lawyer involves knowledge of the claims process and an understanding of what your case is worth. Adjusters and other claims professionals who work for the insurance company do not have in-depth legal knowledge, so you don't need legal training to settle your case yourself. Whether your home was damaged in a fire, you were the victim in an auto accident or you suffered a personal injury due to someone else's negligence, you can settle your claim without a lawyer by working directly with your insurance company or the company of the negligent party.
Gather Supporting Documents
You must have substantial evidence supporting your case to settle your insurance claim effectively. Keep track of all the details of the incident regardless of how minor they may seem. Immediately write down what happened and who was involved while the information is fresh in your mind. Obtain police reports, if applicable, that provide written details of the incident, including injuries you sustained and any evidence of the other party's fault. If you have witnesses, write down their names, contact information and any statements they can provide about the event. To receive compensation for property damage and injuries, gather documents pertaining to medical treatments, including physical therapy and rehabilitative expenses. Include lost wages and damages to personal property. If the incident caused pain and suffering or emotional distress, such as fear or anxiety, you may be entitled to additional compensation.
File a Claim
After gathering evidence to support your case, you must file a claim with the insurance company. The claim is a formal request to the company demanding payment in accordance with the terms of the insurance contract. Depending on the situation, you can file a claim with your insurance company or the at-fault party's insurance carrier. The company may provide a claim form or you can use a general form or template to notify the company of your claim. Keep the details simple and factual with a concise description of what happened. Include damage to personal property and any injuries sustained. Confirm that your contact information -- such as your name, address, telephone number and e-mail address -- are accurate to ensure timely delivery of claims materials.
Negotiate a Settlement
Once the insurance company receives your request for compensation, a claims adjuster will be assigned to your case. The adjuster verifies the validity of the claim and reviews the facts of the case to determine a settlement. The adjuster will usually offer a settlement amount that is significantly lower than your original request. Counter with a figure that is higher than the company's offer but slightly lower than your first demand. Do not let the insurance company know your bottom line until you are confident you can not receive a higher settlement. After you reach a mutually agreeable amount, get settlement details in writing. Do not close the case until you are certain that all your injuries are stable and damages have been repaired. Keeping the case open allows you to request additional compensation down the line if new injuries arise as a result of the incident.
Tips and Warnings
Although many minor automobile, homeowners or personal injury claims can be handled without a lawyer, it might be necessary to seek the advice of an attorney if the case involves significant physical injuries or medical malpractice. If you attempt to settle the claim on your own and the insurance company refuses to cooperate or pay, an experienced attorney can help you get a response from -- or reach a settlement with -- the carrier.
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