Automobile Accidents – Critical Thinking
Most of us will be involved in an auto accident within our lifetimes. This means that we are likely to have a claim with an insurance company, either our own insurance company or someone else’s insurance company. After nearly 15 years of experience in the field of insurance (most as a claims adjuster), I have come to realize that the majority of the public just doesn’t get it (the claims process, that is).
Additionally, I also believe that the majority of auto claims adjusters don’t get it. When I first began to speak with people about insurance claims nearly 15 years ago, the problem was not so apparent, but as more attorneys and less experienced adjusters come on the market, claimants get fed a lot of misinformation. Just search the internet for auto accident claims help or some similar string of search words and you will quickly become confused on how to best approach getting a fair settlement on your insurance claim.
In my own opinion, the best approach is the simplest approach. As the title of this article indicates, critical thinking is the key to a successful claim negotiation. As an adjuster who has handled almost every type of claim imaginable, I will attempt to give some pointers on critical thinking that we should all remember when we are dealing with a claim, adjusters and claimants alike. Here are my six simple rules for critical thinking and negotiating successfully:
1. Never assume anything
2. Listen hard
3. Keep notes
4. Research on your own
5. Remember that what you believe is true is always an opinion
6. Don’t settle unless you understand why you are settling (aka: ask direct questions)
During a claim negotiation, I find that sticking to these five rules almost always creates the best platform for getting what you want, a fair settlement.
The problem arises when one party isn’t aware of the rules, funny but true. The good news is that if you stick to the rules, sooner or later the use of them will result in a good settlement. Here are some obstacles you will surely run into (just try not to be the one creating the obstacle):
3. Unsubstantiated opinions
4. Bad research or advice (also known as ignorance)
6. Apathy towards the opposition’s goals
The above obstacles are just the first to come to my mind when I think about those hard negotiations I have had, and for sure there are many more. Since insurance claims can be complicated, I will not provide a claim scenario (I think it would just generate questions). No two claims will be exactly alike, and therefore the method to a successful resolution will be slightly different. What I will do is provide an example of each rule I have listed so you can better visualize how the rules work. The obstacles can be overcome with a proper understanding of the rules.
Don’t assume that because a person does not know their own phone number, that they are not intelligent. They may just be logical. Einstein did not know his own telephone number, and when asked why, he basically said that he just never needed to call himself.
That man’s father is my father’s son. Is that possible? Who is that man? (it may not be the way you would say it, but can you figure out who that man is?) Break it down on paper, but make sure you listened correctly and write down the problem correctly.
When did you first speak with your adjuster? What did he/she ask you to provide? Without notes, you may not recall and this could delay your claim.
My chocolate cookies are sweet. Do you believe me? What if I used bakers chocolate? Taste the cookies for yourself, don’t take anybody else’s word except your own, including written words. Test any alleged factual statement on your own ground by reading multiple opinions on the fact/statement and formulating your own unique understanding of the opinions. Facts are simply what the majority of people believe at any certain point in time, and many facts have been overturned by critical thinkers (remember when the Earth was flat? Do you believe that the Earth is round?)
See number four, hehe. Really though, there are not really any cold hard facts. Think about this statement: “Something is only impossible until somebody does it.” Everything is an opinion, you will have to come to grips with this and be satisfied with the opinion that has the best evidence with it.
6. Be satisfied:
Yeah, I know you make K per year, so with three days of missed work for going to the doctor, I will pay you .00 per day. You should understand the calculation, so ask how the .00 was calculated, in writing, and then study it. If you can’t get it in writing, ask for the formula until you have it properly written down and then study it. If there is not a good reason or a proper calculation, I would not be satisfied.
Okay, I guess that is the best I can do. Critical thinking and negotiation is an art, keep a list of the rules in front of you if find yourself needing to negotiate for anything. Sometimes just having them available will help you to stick to them, even if you never look at them. To conclude, I will leave you with this “fact” about the claims process so you can “get it”:
If the right information is available to both the adjuster and the person filing a claim, then every claim will be settled fairly. It is your responsibility as either the adjuster or the person filing the claim to make sure the right information is available.
Justin Petty / Licensed All Lines Adjuster and Public Adjuster