How to Handle a Lowball Initial Insurance Settlement Offer

If a storm damages your home or a car wreck ruins your vehicle, it can be emotionally and financially draining. Sometimes, you finally lean on the insurance policy on which you have paid for years just to get kicked while you're down. Insurance companies often give you the lowest possible settlement offer first, in hopes that you will accept it.

If you feel like your insurance company has not offered enough money to cover your losses, you do not have to accept the initial settlement offer. In fact, it's usually in your best interest to reject the initial settlement offer. After all, these adjusters are trained in negotiation and will rarely give you a fair deal right off the bat. Instead, you can contest the offer. If you play your cards right, you can get all the money you need to get your home, car or other property back to normal.

Get Your Documentation Together

Proper documentation is the key to handling stubborn insurance companies. For example, if the settlement offer doesn't give you enough to repair your roof after a storm, you may want to gather several written quotes and photos of the damage. If the damage is more extensive than the insurance company thought or if roofers charge more in your area, this can help you get a fair deal.

You should also keep and send all receipts relevant to the problem in question. For example, if a flood has made your house inhabitable, you need to collect many receipts for your insurance company. Track the expense of another place to stay, all the food you may have lost when the electricity went out, any moving costs, the cost to have someone remove the water and any other expenses.

Respond to the Insurance Company

Once you have all your ducks in a row, contact your insurance adjuster. Explain all the expenses you need to cover and lay out a case for a more substantial settlement. Don't be afraid to ask to speak to someone higher up the company hierarchy. Be sure to provide all the documentation you gathered and pull up your insurance contract. You can highlight any relevant clauses and remind them what you're entitled to under the contract. If the insurance provider continues to deny your requests, you can tell them that you will seek legal action to recoup your expenses. Often, just the mention of bringing in attorneys can get adjusters to budge.

Hire an Attorney

Unfortunately, some insurance companies may continue to lowball you even after you prove your case to them. In this case, it may be time to hire an attorney. Often, a personal injury lawyer is the right choice. You may be able to find someone who specializes in home or car insurance battles. Your attorney can help you get the money you deserve.

File a Complaint

You may also want to file a complaint with your state's insurance department. If your provider is unethical, the state needs to know so they can stop the problem.

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