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  • David Watts

Negotiations as Part of the Claim

One book I keep going back to is Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss, I would recommend putting this on your wish list if you have not read it. I have seen a couple copies floating around the office as well.

Negotiations as Part of the Claim process is an unfortunate part of our projects. Have you ever observed the insurances companies always call our paperwork estimates, even after it is billed? We only provide estimates prior to the work being completed, once we complete the work and send the invoice it is just that, an invoice.

Know the goal going into a negotiation with an adjuster.

The goal is a favorable outcome on payment as billed. The goal is not always to be right. The goal is to close the file with the least amount of reduction as possible. If we did our job right and have all the documentation in place, have all the communications in place and approval on everything, at the end of the project we will still have to concede when we enter a negotiation. If there is a mistake in the paperwork this should be corrected.

People want to be understood and listened to. The need to feel in control. We should listen to the adjuster intensely demonstrate empathy and show a sincere desire to understand what the other side is experiencing.

In preparing: Remember your goal to close the file. Uncover as much information as possible from the other side and what the counterpart needs. Is it a price reduction? is it to be right? get them feeling safe and to talk more. The sole focus here is to find out what the other person has to say.

Tone: Smile when you are speaking. Slow it down. Be the voice of good-nature person and relaxed. Rarely and I mean rarely use an assertive tone. Do not get angry as it is not personal, they have a job to do and it seems it is to reduce our invoice.

Use Mirroring: Repeat the last three words of what someone has said. It insinuates similarity which facilitates bonding. To learn more about this skill please read Chris Voss's book.

Empathy: Imagine yourself in the counterpart’s situation. Recognize their perspective, understand their feelings, and hear what is behind those feelings.

Extreme Anchor: Bend your counterpart’s reality by anchoring the starting point. Before making an offer, emotionally anchor the saying how bad it will be. Set an anchor to make the offer more reasonable. Use a range to seem less aggressive.

Bend their Reality: Anchor their emotions. Let the other party suggest a price first. (Normally we have this after the review). When countering know your numbers, where the project loses profitability. Use exact numbers, do not round.

Calibrated questions: Don’t use: Can, Is, Are, Do, Does. Avoid asking questions with yes/no answers or tiny pieces of information. Start every question with what, how, and sometimes but rarely why. (Only use why when defensiveness it creates is in my favor: Why would you ever change from the way you’ve always done things and try my approach?) Avoid angry emotional reactions.

7-38-55: 7% content 38% tone of voice 55% body language & face

Email is great for documenting and sharing information but not good in negotiating a project. Use the phone and in best case (prior to covid) meet person to person. Pay attention to tone and body language.

When conceding, what do you get? In many cases at the close of negotiating the invoice, we have one more item to settle. The payment timeline. We can accept this offer if payment is received within 30 days….by the end of the month. Do not leave the payment terms open. This could lead to more payment delays and now we are waiting on a reduced invoice and not knowing when the check will be here. Set the payment expectations prior to any agreement.

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