6 Things to Consider Before You Accept an Initial Insurance Offer
After experiencing a car accident, you may be dealing with unforeseen injuries, medical bills, lost wages, or other expenses that have left you overwhelmed about handling the aftermath of your accident. This can leave you desperate to accept the first payment offer from the at-fault party’s insurance. However, the full impact of the damages caused by the accident may not become apparent until later on, and immediately accepting an offer could mean expenses from worsening injuries come out of your pocket instead of being the responsibility of the person who caused the damages in the first place.
Here are 6 things to consider before accepting an initial insurance offer to keep this from happening to you.
1. The Cost
When dealing with a car accident, you need to consider the cost. Delaying to take action and file a claim could add to already accumulating expenses like car repairs, medical needs, and mental distress. It’s important to take action as soon as possible to secure the compensation you are owed down the line.
These costs can add up quickly, and when you aren’t at fault for an accident, it shouldn’t be your responsibility to cover them on your own. Often, insurance companies include your medical bills in the initial offer, meaning when it comes time to pay those bills, they come out of the settlement. Before you know it, that settlement gets taken up quickly, and you might realize too late that the insurance company lowballed you.
Negotiating for a higher settlement is intimidating to most people, and you might need help figuring out where to start. But don’t let these fears keep you from creating a claim—take action as soon as possible. If you feel you can’t handle it alone, a great option is to hire an experienced personal injury lawyer to file your claim and negotiate a settlement for you.
2. The Insurance Company
Something to keep in mind in the world of insurance is that, although insurance was designed to protect consumers, at the end of the day, it is a business that is concerned about its bottom line. This means insurance companies will try to pay out as little as possible, and often their first offer reflects this truth. An initial offer will typically downplay the damages you have experienced due to an accident. Even if the offer seems fair, always compare it to the actual expenses you have suffered from the wreck. Don’t let the allure of an immediate check keep you from receiving the full compensation you are owed. Unexpected costs down the line are always a possibility, and you don’t want to be stuck paying for those expenses out of your own pocket.
3. Your Rights
When negotiating for a better offer, you need to know your rights. The initial offer from the insurance company will usually include the costs of economic damages such as medical bills, car repair costs, medication, etc.. If you don’t understand your rights, you might think those are the only damages you can recover. However, there are also non-economic damages including emotional distress, pain and suffering, and overall quality of life. If you are suffering from PTSD after a car accident, you are owed compensation for this just as much as the compensation to fix your car. These damages are trickier to calculate as the value fluctuates depending on the severity of your case. That’s why it is wise to hire a lawyer to help you, as they know how to calculate your noneconomic damages.
4. The Future
Injuries are fickle things, and each type takes a different amount of time to heal fully. Your back injury, neck pain, emotional trauma, or even brain injury could seem to heal, only to reappear years later. That’s why you should still file a claim after your accident, even if you don’t think your injuries are that severe. It’s better to ensure you are covered for any future expenses now than wait too late and miss your opportunity. In South Carolina, the statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit for personal injury cases is three years. Once that period passes, any claim you try to make will be denied.
5. Your Expenses
The best way to know if an insurance offer is fair is by tracking your expenses by keeping up with the paperwork. This can demand a lot of your time and even be exhausting, but ensuring you receive the compensation you deserve is critical. Keep all your medical bills, expenses from car repairs, medications, physical therapy, lost wages, etc. This may seem tedious, but knowing the full cost of an accident is vital to getting fair reimbursement. Think of it this way the more expenses you track, the bigger your payout will be.
6. Additional Insurance Policies
Sometimes there are additional policies you need to look into before accepting an offer from the insurance company. These are called Umbrella policies, and they provide extra coverage outside a typical policy. Liabilities of subjective damages, like emotional distress, are often covered by Umbrella policies. However, just as we discussed above, insurance companies are not upfront about additional compensation and will not make this type of coverage known.
Always dive deeper than what the insurance company tells you and check for what umbrella policies might be available to you.
In the aftermath of a car accident, don’t let the stress overwhelm you from receiving fair compensation. To ensure you don’t get lowballed by an insurance offer, hire an experienced personal injury lawyer to create a claim right away, track and calculate your expenses, and negotiate the best offer. Having someone on your side, fighting for your rights, will remove the stress from you so that you can focus on healing from the aftermath of a car accident.