Insurance Settlement Negotiations
As every good salesperson knows, closing the deal requires excellent negotiation skills. And so it is with the best claims professionals—they know how to negotiate effectively to resolve and close their cases. Simply stated, negotiating is the ability to influence events or people to a desired outcome. Becoming a skilled negotiator will give claims adjusters the power to influence and control the outcome of their cases. They will be more effective in resolving disputes.
Skilled adjusters understand the importance of strategic negotiations and begin the process from the first day that a claim is assigned to them. We understand our primary responsibility in the claims handling process is to close the case. We begin thinking about case closure and laying out a strategy, from the initial contact. We have developed an excellent understanding of human nature and have a desire to conduct ourselves throughout the process in a professional manner. We believe in the spirit of fair dealing.
Examining the negotiating process from a claims perspective, we can break it down into four parts: (1) approach, (2) probe, (3) presentation, and (4) closure.
Negotiations and case resolution begin at the first contact. Creating trust is one of the desired outcomes of the first contact with the claimant. This is not easy to do, especially in light of the public's inherent mistrust of the claims process, in general, and claims adjusters in particular.
Claims representatives know that to create trust, We must always keep their promises. We must believe in, and practice, old fashioned virtues such as truthfulness, fairness, and common courtesies. During the discussions and ongoing contacts, we continue to clarify and manage expectations.
While we acknowledge that people do not trust insurance companies. We work hard to show, and demand, respect.
It is a natural tendency of human nature to strive to be understood. Successful claims adjusters understand that this forces them to persuasion, not understanding. Working hard to understand the perspective of the claimant is a key strategic move for the successful negotiator.
Uncovering the needs of the claimant is every bit as important as uncovering all of the facts surrounding the occurrence. We receive extensive training in developing investigative techniques in order to uncover all of the facts that will allow us to make an objective evaluation of coverage, liability, and damages. During that process, it is important for us to probe and to ask questions—not just about the accident facts, but about the things that may impact the perspective and actions of the claimant.
Understanding that the claimant is experiencing emotions—fear, anger, and resentment—will assist the adjuster in communicating more effectively. Knowing that the claimant may be receiving free advice or may even have an instinct to strike back, helps the claim representative control their own emotions and rise above their own defensive mechanisms when the adjuster or the profession are attacked.
Demonstrating a dedication to the purpose of closing a case, a successful negotiator will acknowledge the claimant's perspective and respond objectively and convincingly to the fears that are articulated.
Probing is more than just asking questions. It includes active listening. Active listening involves hearing those things that are not said, to get to the core of the issue.
In this phase of the process, we will be providing an indication of the settlement value of the claim. It is important for the adjuster to inform the other party that the goal is to reach agreement. Focusing on facts and truth will force the parties to communicate objectively.
When public claims adjuster completed a solid investigation into the facts surrounding the incident, there will be no surprises to either party when comparative negligence issues are discussed, when damages are discussed, or when coverage issues are discussed. The other party should have gotten some indication as to the ultimate settlement value based on the questions the claims practitioner asked during the investigation process.
Effective presentation of any position requires knowledge of the facts. Whether investigating liability, coverage, or damages, communication with the other party should be based on facts. We investigate the facts impartially and negotiate with partiality. Without a clear and objective understanding of the circumstances surrounding the claim, it is impossible to negotiate from a position of strength.
For more information about our insurance negotiation process, make sure to call us at 800-414-1974 or visit our website at www.claimsxp.com to see how we can further help you.