How to Negotiate and Settle Allstate Insurance Claims
People often call and ask us questions like: “how much can I expect to receive from Allstate after a car accident?” Unfortunately, even when you are hit from behind and it seems like Allstate’s driver is very obviously at fault, these cases are not that simple. As many people find out the hard way, the settlement offer that insurance companies make you for your personal injury case often seems like peanuts. Allstate’s approach to defending Allstate insurance claims is one of the reasons the American Association for Justice named Allstate Insurance the “Worst Insurance Company In America.”
Allstate Insurance Background
Allstate Insurance has been around since 1931. They are currently the second largest personal insurance company in the United States. They boast over 16 million customers worldwide. They also own Esurance and Encompass Insurance Company. With that kind of size is it any wonder some claimants might feel overwhelmed or even bullied into accepting low ball settlements vs going to court?
How Allstate Claims Are Adjusted
In the 1990’s, Allstate began employing a piece of software to analyze claims known as Colossus. As a result of years of litigation, much of how Colossus operates to ‘adjust your claim’ has become public knowledge. Colossus is a massive claims data base that contains data on hundreds of thousands of past automobile accident claims and their outcomes. Adjusters enter specific data and Colossus uses the data to create a value range for the claim.
Data Collection and Input by the Allstate Adjuster
The Allstate insurance adjuster beings by inputting specific requested information into Colossus. Injury codes are used to describe the exact injuries that were documented in the medical records and treated by the doctors. If the injury is not documented in the records, do not expect it to be considered. Additional data pertaining to medical care is requested including:
- First date of treatment
- Type and duration of medical care received
- Names of medical providers
- Specialty of providers
- Whether impairment is noted and supported in the records
- Whether an attorney is involved in the referral
- Costs of medical care in the particular geographical area
In addition to the above, Colossus considers other factors in evaluating the medical care such as whether an attorney was involved in the referral, whether there are medical liens, use of a seatbelt, and aggravating factors regarding the case.
Liability is Assumed by Colossus
Colossus does not take into account liability. That is, it does not analyze fault. Colossus determines the estimated value range of a case by assuming liability and assessing only the damages. The adjuster may then reduce that amount if he/she determines the Plaintiff to be partially at fault.
After all of the data is inputted, an adjuster can add a few extra value points based upon extenuating circumstances that Colossus does not automatically account for. However, the Allstate adjuster’s latitude appears to be limited.
Colossus takes all of the above data and compares it to the thousands of cases that have had similar facts and have gone to trial and/or come to pass in that area. From this information, Colossus creates a settlement range. While many other companies also use Colossus as a case evaluation tool to consider, it is generally understood that Allstate uses this as the primary tool to define the range within which they will settle a case.
Allstate and Low Impact Collisions
Allstate has a reputation among personal injury attorneys as an insurance company that fights cases where the damage to the vehicle does not create the image of a severe impact. They often classify these as Mist Claims (Minor Impact Soft Tissue). Once a claim is classified as a MIST claim, you can expect them to make a nuisance value offer and force you to file a lawsuit and take the case to trial to get a fair amount for your damages.
Soft tissue injuries such as whiplash are the most common injuries sustained after a car accident and the easiest for a defense lawyer to convince a jury into not believing the plaintiff. By fighting them aggressively, Allstate forces a car wreck lawyer to decide whether he is really willing to gamble his money on a case that has a higher chance of losing simply due to juror bias against personal injury claimants.
How to Make Allstate Insurance Claims
In order to get the best possible settlement, you should familiarize yourself with the various variables that Colossus considers. You should gather all of your medical records and bills and be sure that all of your injuries are documented in the information you present. You should also take care to follow all of your doctor’s orders, see any specialists they refer you to and treat in a timely and reasonable manner. You should also get solid documentation of any lost time from work down to the hour and rate of pay.
Rarely should you accept the very first offer an adjuster makes you. In our experience, they often make a another move and then a final offer after the initial offer.
Getting the Insurance Adjuster to Re-evaluate Your Allstate Claim
In order to get more than their “top offer,” you will likely need to get a re-evaluation of your claim. This is very difficult. While different levels of adjusters may have some small discretion to offer 500-1500 over and above their range to settle, you may have to convince the adjuster to re-run your case through Colossus to get a higher settlement evaluation. In our experience, they will rarely do this unless you can offer them additional evidence that they did not take into account the first time.
How Much Will Allstate Pay For Pain and Suffering?
As mentioned, Allstate uses Colossus to determine the value of your pain and suffering in the run-of-the-mill whiplash cases. The amount is based upon how other cases have fared at trial with similar injuries in the same jurisdiction. Thus, there is no exact prediction, However, because they have a tendency to cut or “reduce” your medical bills for what they consider “reasonable and customary” charges, the offer they make you will often not feel like there is any consideration for your pain and suffering.
Should I Hire a Car Accident Lawyer to Fight Allstate?
An insurance adjuster’s job is to minimize the amount the insurance company pays out. If you do not provide the right documentation, you claim value will likely suffer. At Simmons and Fletcher, P.C., we handle car accident insurance claims against Allstate on a regular basis. Our attorneys know what evidence can be important to a Colossus evaluation. We can also work to negotiate down the cost of your medical bills and medical liens in order to maximize your recovery. Allstate Insurance Co. has well-trained adjusters and lawyers on their side. Shouldn’t you have someone on your side? Consultations are always free at Simmons and Fletcher, P.C. Why not discuss your case with us today? If you decide not to hire us, nothing was lost. If you decide to hire us, we front all of the legal expenses and we do not charge a fee or get reimbursed our expenses unless we make a recovery for you.
Paul Cannon has practiced personal injury trial law since 1995. He is Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law (2005). He has earned recognition as a Super Lawyer by Thompson Reuters in 2017 & 2018, and as a Top 100 Trial Lawyer by the National Trial Lawyers Association in 2017. He is a Shareholder, trial lawyer and online marketing manager at Simmons and Fletcher, P.C. His legal writings have been published by the Texas Bar Journal, Business.com, Lawyer.com HG Legal Resources, Lawfirms.com, and others. He has been asked to give education talks and media interviews on dog bite law.