Over at Settlement Perspectives, they have some good advice about working with your insurance carrier to resolve disputes.  These include: “Insurers hate surprises.  Communication is key.” 

I will add the following.  You must observe the rules of the ritual.  Insurance companies are huge bureaucracies, and like all bureaucracies, they have their sometimes arcane procedures for getting things done.  Veer away from the procedures at your own peril.  

Here’s a war story to illustrate what I mean.  A few years back, I was involved in trying to resolve a major claim.  Shortly before going into the negotiation session, I read an article in Trial Magazine about negotiating with carriers.  The article recommended not making a demand, but instead forcing the carrier to make an offer.  The gist of the article was that this novel strategy would throw the claims representative off balance, leading to a good settlement.   Armed with this brilliant piece of advice, I confidently strode to the table…and spent the next four hours arguing about who should make the first move.  I left with no resolution, although we later were able to settle.  That was stupid. 

I’ve also had a couple of first-party claims go off the rails because we didn’t strictly comply with the proof of loss requirements required by the carrier (even though not specified in the policy), such as by providing detailed schedules itemizing the amounts sought and tying them to specific policy coverages.  Was the carrier’s behavior appropriate?  That’s irrelevant.  All that matters is that by not following the (ridiculous) requirements imposed by the carrier, we gave the claims representative an excuse to delay payment.  

Don’t make things harder than they need to be.