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Currently Viewing Posts Tagged Negotiation

Car Accident Negotiation

     I like the classic story of the young man who was looking for guidance in his life. He decided to pull out his Bible and use the “point and read” method, by opening at any passage; Wherever his finger landed, he would read and apply it in his life.

     His first effort at this method “landed” him at Matthew 27:5 which reads, “And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself”. After reading this passage on Judas, the young man decided that he needed to try again.

     He then closed his Bible, reopened it, and his finger landed in Luke. He then read a passage that said, “Go and do likewise”. Shaking his head, he thought he’d better try again and his “point and read” method took him to John 13, where he read “That thou doest, do quickly”.

     Sometimes when I send settlement packages to insurance adjuster’s, I am convinced that they evaluate the claims with the same kind of “point and read” method, in evaluating the worth of the claim.

     Yesterday, I was discussing a settlement package that I had sent to an out of town adjuster. My client’s medical bills exceed 15K and she continues to receive treatment; Her bills are getting larger.

     I met with her doctor, who advises that she will probably need surgery on her shoulder (the standard for testimony at trial). He then put that in a letter, which I had sent to the adjuster.

     Despite the bills, the documentation of medical treatment, and the letter from her Orthopaedic doctor, the adjuster made a settlement offer that was a little over 16K. 

     In the world of negotiation, I understand that a “first offer” is, at least, getting started. For that reason, I simply asked for her reasoning for such an offer. She gave me some nebulous answer that was basically, “that’s how we have it evaluated”.  Doesn’t that sound like a “point and read” kind of offer?

     She then went on to tell me that if I expected a higher offer, that I would need to provide my client’s medical records for the last 5 years. When I hear that kind of insistence, I suspect, once again,  that offers are coming from machines, and some person on the other end is just processing. 

     In discussing this settlement package with this adjuster, I was reminded of a saying of Alfred Lord Tennyson that I went back and looked up, to get it stated accurately. “Blind and naked ignorance delivers brawling judgments, unashamed on all things, all day long.” For negotiation purposes, I’m guessing that I did the right thing by not repeating that saying to her.

     I have no issue in providing past medical records. In fact, if I file suit, the defense attorney would most certainly subpoena them anyway. This just doesn’t give much hope, when an adjuster makes an offer that is so low, that it would require my client to bring money to the office, to settle her case.

     In actuality, it is negotiations like this that keep the adrenaline going. I haven’t said it in a while, at the end of one of my blogs, but I think it applies here….. And the fight continues!

Just A Multiplier

     Some of my negotiations with adjusters get a bit annoying. OK, “many” get annoying. I will submit a settlement package and then wait a couple of weeks. Soon, the old “I need more information” call comes back. Then, the information requested appears only to be a delay tactic.

     I understand the potential of delay in the world of negotiation. I am told that the Japanese are some of the greatest negotiators on earth. Part of their success is simply waiting out the other side. I have heard it called “Negotiating the terms of negotiation”.

     Dealing with insurance companies does not always mean that there is a real purpose to the evaluation and negotiation. When I finally receive the initial offer, many times it will be just a little bit above the medical bills. Once again, I accept the concept of getting “the ball rolling”.

      Whenever I get an offer that is within range or even if it appears a bit insulting, I ask the adjuster how they arrived at that number. Sometimes, I do get some good answers that cause me to try to get more information to that adjuster to consider.

      Many insurance companies are strictly based on numbers and computer programs. In this way, they are able to hire college graduates who have little training in claims and evaluations. Then, when the settlement packages are sent to them, they simply fill in the numbers and the computer tells them what to offer. Based on their silence to “why did you offer that?”, I’m guessing that there is little training on the “Why”.

      The real purpose of this blog is to post the following presentation called “Numbers at Work”. It comes from the website You might be surprised by all the presentations that you find there, if you have never been to the site.

      This blog posted presentation is dubbed “Mathemagic”, because of the amazing mathematical feats that are performed. It is a reminder of how numbers can really have a purpose. Well, I hope you will click on it and watch. It’s about 10 minutes long.

      Maybe, the adjusters that read this blog will incorporate some of the multiplication on my client’s settlement packages! Well, I can dream, can’t I?

Sow’s Ear to Silk Purse

     I’ve always liked the expression that is the title of the blog. It’s kinda like turning chicken $%@* into chicken salad. You know that I can’t start blog cursing. Still, the following political campaign story fits this description.

     Max Bazerman writes about a Teddy Roosevelt story. The year was 1912 and Roosevelt was unhappy with the way that President William Taft had been running the country. He decided to enter the political campaign for President.

     For a campaign brochure, three million copies of a campaign speech were printed. It included a photograph of Roosevelt on the brochure. Unfortunately, the campaign manager discovered a major mistake. The photographer who had taken the picture, had not given his permission to use it for the campaign brochure.

    At that time, copyright laws might have allowed the photographer to demand as much as $1, per copy of the distributed photograph. That 3 Million in damages would be like $60 million today; Which shows how crippling that such an amount, would be to any political campaign.

     First, I’m guessing, the campaign manager paced the floor. Then, he came up with an idea and sent a telegram to the photographer that said the following: “Planning to distribute three million copies of campaign speech with photographs (Stop) Excellent publicity opportunity for photographers (Stop) How much are you willing to pay to use your photographs? (Stop)  Respond immediately(Stop)”

    The photographer did not take long to respond. He sent back a telegram with the following message. “Appreciate the opportunity, but can only afford $250.”

     Every day, we all face negotiations in life. Maybe it starts with our own thoughts. “If I hit the snooze button, I can still make it in plenty of time”. Maybe with the kids by saying, “One more bite and you get ice cream”. Maybe it is with the credit card company, by trying to get the interest rate reduced.

     Maybe just negotiating with the tube of toothpaste for one more brush. Or as the one man said, when he combined “One more time” with “do it again” to get “One more gain” (I know it’s crazy but it has made my friend and I holler “one more gain, when the Colts score a Touchdown, but I digress!) 

     I have attached a book citation on negotiation, that I think you will enjoy. Sometimes, the best way to negotiate is not to look at how it effects us; A better way is to figure out how to make it work better for the other person. Roosevelt’s manager certainly turned a bad situation into a campaign contribution.

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