Thirteen tips to help you understand insurers with different settlement approaches
Adjusters from high profile, large, national, conservative carriers are strong believers and are loyal to the conservative philosophy of their employers. You and your personal injury attorney will never change their beliefs or their feelings about this. Don’t bother trying to argue about how conservative they are.
The authority given to lower and mid-echelon adjusters of large conservative carriers is limited and scrutinized carefully by their supervisors and claims managers. Therefore, you and your attorney are really dealing with the mind-set of the claims manager or supervisor, which may be even more conservative than that of the adjuster.
Adjusters for conservative carriers do not cut corners and do not mind the nit-picking process of researching a claim, including prior medical treatment, review of tax returns, scrutiny of wage history, and possible surveillance of you.
Adjusters from small local companies can also be as conservative as large national companies because such companies share only a fraction of the premium dollars spent by America’s policyholders. A $20,000, $30,000 or $40,000 case to these companies is large by comparison.
Conservative adjusters are not sympathetic to documentation about pain, suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life. They are only impressed with hard figures, objective data, and virtually indisputable, objective facts.
Adjusters from more reasonable carriers, usually with lower profiles, will give signals about the possibility of settlement. If your personal injury attorney knows the adjuster and the carrier, he or she will be able to recognize these signals and settle cases because of the atmosphere of trust, confidence, and credibility between the attorney and the carrier.
Your personal injury attorney must not only know about the insurance carrier but also about the defense firms for the particular carriers. Defense firms who represent more reasonable carriers are, like their clients, easier to deal with both in the negotiation process and during litigation. Conservative carriers hire very successful firms who, by caveat from their employers, are more likely to play hardball in terms of negotiation and litigation.
Women comprise a very large portion of the insurance adjustment force in this country. Women adjusters are usually very polite, extremely well prepared, and quite experienced in the negotiation process. They react to kindness much more readily than threats and offensive behavior. Exhibiting any sort of gender bias or memories of the “good old boy days” will not only offend them but also severely limit your success in resolving cases.
Once your attorney has ascertained that the adjuster leans toward the more reasonable, he or she will establish a relationship of trust that will allow both of them to be more open in their negotiations. This will save both you and your attorney time and trouble.
Your personal injury attorney should keep track of personal information about insurance adjusters, such as hobbies, children, and other things that your attorney can discuss during conversations. Establishing a friendly personal relationship with the adjuster will build trust and help facilitate negotiations.
Remember that every adjuster has a supervisor somewhere looking over settlement authority. Therefore, attacking the adjuster personally because of this low settlement authority gets you and your attorney nowhere.
Your attorney needs to keep an open mind, especially when dealing with adjusters who work for more reasonable companies. Perhaps their assessment of a claim is reasonable.
Your personal injury attorney should always try to have some conversation with the adjuster that is not centered around the claim such as the weather, hobbies, vacations, and activities of children. Listening is a powerful tool, and patience is a virtue. Nobody likes a “too busy lawyer.”