California insurance companies do not like to willingly pay the full value of car accident claims. It costs them money and harms their bottom line. As a result, they will play a number of games to try to minimize the amount of money that comes out of their pocket. Those who file claims need to be wise to the ways of the insurance company.
The insurance agency will use the adjuster as their first line of defense when trying to lowball claims. The adjuster knows how much the claim is worth. They are betting on the claimant not having any idea how much they are truly owed and are trying to use that to their advantage. The initial offer will typically be low enough to give the insurance company their own room in the negotiation. They are not counting on this offer being accepted but will certainly be pleased if it is.
As a matter of practice, the claimant should reject the initial offer and make their own counteroffer through the form of a written demand. They should inform the insurance company why their offer is low and show the documentation of the claim. When they make a counteroffer, they should aim high because the insurance company likely will not pay it. However, it will set the stage for further negotiations between the two sides toward a settlement agreement.
One way to beat the insurance company at their own game is to hire a car accident attorney to handle the settlement negotiations. The lawyer could counsel their client on the true value of the claim so they might know when the insurance company is trying to take advantage of their superior knowledge. The lawyer may recommend to the client when it makes sense to reject the settlement offer and file a lawsuit.