When's the best time to accept an injury compensation offer?
Most insurance companies tend to make a low initial compensation offer in the hope that you will accept it. However, some insurance companies will make a high initial offer and then reduce it as your case progresses. So how do you know when to accept an offer or is this just poker?
How early in the process can I settle my claim?
As a claimant, you are free to accept an offer as soon as you receive one.
If you have instructed a personal injury solicitor you might receive the offer during the claims process. If you are dealing directly with the insurer, you may receive an offer directly.
Are there any insurance company tricks I need to aware of?
Making a pre-medical offers
In certain circumstances, insurers will make an immediate pre-medical offer - without even being presented with any medical evidence.
Were you to accept the insurance company's offer, it would mean accepting a compensation offer before a medical assessment has ascertained;
- the full extent of your injury
- what medical treatments you will need
- the prognosis for ongoing care
The practice of pre-medical offers is controversial and has been criticised in Parliament. So why do insurance companies still employ this strategy?
For a claimant, the prospect of a quick and hassle-free settlement can be compelling. Insurance companies are well aware of this and, as such, pre-medical offers are usually on the low side
A recent article in the Law Society Gazette highlights the real reason. Insurance companies want to 'buy off 'victims to save money.
Making an early-stage offer
As with pre-medical offers, an immediate offer of money following an injury can be very tempting. Insurance companies may try to offer just enough to tempt you to settle your claim, rather than the real value of your claim.
Even if you have had a medical assessment, you still might not know how long you will need to recover.
Accepting an early-stage offer is a gamble:
- If you recover sooner than expected, you may be better off.
- If your recovery takes longer, you cannot claim further compensation.
An early-stage offer may be tempting, but your solicitor may advise holding your nerve and negotiating further.
Your solicitor should:
- be familiar with the negotiating tactics of specific insurers
- demonstrate your intent to go to court if necessary
- give you some degree of assurance as to the level of compensation achievable.
Giving you misleading advice
A commonly reported tactic is when insurance companies tell claimants not to instruct a solicitor. Insurers claim that they will be able to pay more as a result.
If you are contacted by an insurance company in this manner, you should speak to a solicitor without delay.
Offering you a panel solicitor
Once an insurer knows that you intend to seek legal advice, they may recommend you use one of their panel solicitors.
The panel solicitor will receive an ongoing stream of work from the insurer and, as such, the conflict of interests is clear. How can your solicitor offer you independent legal advice if they are commercially dependent on the insurer for their work?
What are the financial benefits of instructing a solicitor?
Research carried out by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) (the insurance industry regulator) showed that claimants who instruct a solicitor rather than accepting the first offer from an insurance company, receive 2-3 times more compensation.
This startling statistic shows just how much the insurance industry stands to gain by coercing you away from seeking independent legal advice.
So when should I settle my claim?
Your solicitor will present you with the facts. How much your claim is worth, what risks are involved, and what you would need to do to get the best possible compensation settlement.
If you do choose to claim through a personal injury solicitor, you are still in the driving seat. You should settle your claim when you want to, not when someone pressures you to.
Independent legal advice from Quittance's panel of solicitors puts you in control, not the insurance company.
Have you already received a compensation offer?
If you have received a compensation offer and are wondering whether to accept it, you can cross-check the offer with our injury compensation calculator. The calculator will give you a good idea of how much you could expect to receive in both general and special damages:
I'm not happy with my personal injury settlement, what can I do?
If you have not yet accepted the settlement, you should discuss the matter with your solicitor. Your injury lawyer will be able to provide more detail regarding how the settlement figure was calculated, and can confirm whether there is any scope for further negotiation.
If your injuries have not yet fully healed, you may also wish to delay accepting the offer, in case your recovery takes longer than planned. You cannot claim more compensation after accepting an offer if your recovery does not go as planned or your injuries worsen.
If you have already accepted a compensation settlement, you cannot claim for more money, even if your injuries are later discovered to be more serious. For this reason, you should not accept an early offer of compensation before a full medical exam has been carried out.
The compensation claims process will depend on where and how your injury occurred. Click the icons below for more information:
How we can help you with your injury claim
Your solicitor will fight for the best possible compensation settlement for you, and the highly-experienced panel of solicitors have an excellent track record of winning injury claims.
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Questions about the injury claims process?
Get all the answers in our comprehensive FAQ section:
- How will a personal injury claim affect my benefits?
- Will I have to pay tax on my injury compensation award?
- Can I make a personal injury claim for someone else?
- Can I claim injury compensation if there were no witnesses?
- Can I make an injury claim if I don't know who's to blame?
Howard Willis, Personal injury solicitor
About the author
Howard qualified as a solicitor in 1984 and has specialised in personal injury for over 25 years. He is a member of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) and is a recognised Law Society Personal Injury Panel expert.