Insurance companies have a few things in common. In their advertising they all want you to believe that they are “on your side,” and that “like a good neighbor” you are “in good hands” with them. Something else they have in common is that they are profit-driven businesses that are driven ultimately by their bottom lines and not by altruism. What this can mean to you is that if you are involved in a car accident here in Alabama you may discover a side to your insurer, or if another driver was at fault his insurer, that may not be quite as friendly as they were before the accident happened.
At some point during negotiations with your or the other driver’s insurer, you may receive a settlement offer for any personal injury and property loss that you have suffered. But if you are not employed in the insurance industry and do not otherwise know how it works, how will you know whether the offer you receive is fair in the sense that it provides you with the full amount of compensation you will require? A quick rule of thumb is, if the offer is the first one you have received, it probably isn’t.
Insurance agents and adjusters will generally have a range of money within which they are authorized to negotiate. Like any good hagglers, they will likely start off by offering you the low end of that range. Moreover, even your own insurer may want you to believe that your share of blame for the accident was perhaps greater than it actually was, for two reasons: to encourage you to settle instead of seeking an adjudicated resolution, and to encourage you to believe that your claim is worth less than it really is.
There are two possible ways to deal with insurance companies after an automobile accident: you can negotiate with them on your own, and hope that you are not being hornswoggled, or you can secure legal representation from a law firm that not only has a duty to represent your interests zealously but also has experience in negotiating with insurers from a position of knowledge about how to identify and accurately value all of your possible claims. Remember, once you accept a settlement offer it can be very difficult to go back and re-negotiate later, so getting it right the first time is extremely important.