ClaimClinic: The Demand
You should only begin the Demand process when you have completely finished your medical treatment and have been symptom free for several weeks. The last thing you want is to underestimate your injuries. Occasionally someone will think they only have a back strain only later to discover they have a herniated disc. You need to know the full scope of your injuries and prognosis before you can even begin thinking about settling your claim.
Your suggestion on what your personal injury claim is worth is called a “demand” because you are demanding the insurer settle in exchange for you not filing suit. Even though it is called a demand, it is more like a request. The insurance company’s number is called the “offer” because it is what they are offering you for your claim.
You start the negotiations process by sending the adjuster a Demand Package. A Demand Package consists of:
- A Demand Letter – setting out your entire claim.
- Supporting Documents – all the evidence and data you rely on to justify your demand amount as well as the information the adjuster needs to properly consider your demand.
Each of these two components has its own section where you will learn in great detail how to make the best possible Demand Package.
A good Demand Package can be time consuming, but it is time well spent. Two people can have the exact same accident with the exact same injuries and treatment but get totally different offers based on the quality of the Demand Package. You package sends a message to the adjuster about who they are dealing with. It is the “event” that the adjuster will solely rely on in coming up with his/her range of settlement offers. After the adjuster gets and reviews your Demand Package, the rest of you claim will be handled via phone calls and the process will move much quicker.
ClaimClinic has already taught you how to thoroughly investigate and document your claim. Hopefully you have not taken any shortcuts. A thorough Demand Package speeds along the negotiations process because otherwise the adjuster is going to keep coming back to you asking for additional documents. More importantly, it gives the adjuster all the data points he/she needs to put a dollar amount on your claim.
Call the adjuster on the day you send out the Demand Package and ask that they call you to confirm receipt. You should also calendar to call the adjuster in 3 to 4 days from when you sent out the Demand Package to make sure the received it. When you talk to the adjuster, ask him/her how long on average it is taking them to go through demands and make counter-offers. This will give you an idea of how long you will have to wait before hearing back with a counter-offer.
UM Demand Packages
If your accident was so severe that the other driver did not have enough insurance to cover your claim, or if the other driver was uninsured or unknown because it was a hit and run, you will need to make a Demand on your insurance company under your UM insurance.
This is where the at-fault driver did not have enough insurance to satisfy your claim and you need to access your own UM insurance for the additional amount. You will need proof that you exhausted the entire liability policy limits of the other driver before your insurance company will consider your Demand. You can get this proof by requesting the at-fault driver’s adjuster write a letter or sign an affidavit stating it has paid its policy limits to you. Include this in your Demand Package to your insurance company.
If the at-fault driver was not insured, then you don’t have to wait on anything and can make your UM Demand with your Demand Package
Moving Into Negotiations
Call the adjuster on the same day you mail out your Demand Package. Tell him/her that you sent the Demand Package, including your medical records, bills, and lost wage information. Ask that they call you when they receive it so you know that it all got to their desk. Don’t ask when they will get to reviewing your Demand just yet.
Put a note on your calendar 4-5 days out from the day you sent the Demand to followup with the Adjuster to confirm receipt of the Demand Package. Of course, if the adjuster calls you first like you requested there won’t be any need to make this call. When you have this second conversation with the adjuster (confirming receipt of the Demand), ask him/her how many weeks they will need to get to and review your Demand. Add an additional week to the adjuster’s answer and calendar this day to follow up with the Adjuster to see if they have an offer for you.
The key in getting your Demand on the negotiations track is to not appear impatient. You should only make a minimum number of phone calls:
- A call to inform adjuster the Demand Package is getting mailed out;
- A call to confirm receipt of the Demand Package; and
- A call to follow up with the Adjuster if they miss their estimated date to get you an offer.
Calling every day or frequently makes you appear impatient, which adjusters interpret as being desperate for money. This will cause the adjuster to offer you less money to try and “steal” the claim.