Negotiation 101

August 24, 2011

I spent most of today on the phone negotiating with my insurance adjustor. It all seemed like a waste of time to me. But it was necessary for my claim. I kept my patience and maintained my self-control. I knew he was just doing his job: settling a claim with the least amount paid out by the insurance company. And I needed to do mine: advocating for what I needed to receive a fair settlement.

Insurance adjustors are trained negotiators. I am not. I only have my experience in advocating for others in my role as literacy coordinator. I do not have training in the fine art of negotiations. Perhaps that is something that should be included in with the high school curriculum. Negotiation 101. Since it’s likely that everyone will need to face some type of negotiations in their lifetimes, learning negotiation skills would be a valuable asset to a high school curriculum.

I certainly wished I had some type of background in negotiation as I spoke to my adjustor today. I relied heavily on my proposal writing skills. And kept reminding myself on what was important to him: saving money. So I addressed the situation through the expenditures that were accumulating.

He explained that the insurance would not cover any drop off fees for the rental vehicle. The rental company was going to add on an extra $200 because I needed to drop off the vehicle on the mainland rather than where I had rented it on the island. My insurance adjustor suggested that I take a cab to the ferry terminal. Walk onto the ferry terminal. Then take a cab to the nearest rental car office on the mainland. I was okay with taking a cab. However, I was not going to struggle with all of our baggage walking on and off the ferry.

We had packed for a road trip. Not a plane ride. We had sleeping bags and knapsacks. Bags of water bottles and food. We also had all the maps and travel books that I normally keep in the car on a permanent basis. The trunk to the rental car was full. I could envision the nightmare of loading all that baggage into a cab, unloading it at the ferry terminal, then hauling it all onto the ferry. Only to repeat in the reverse order once we reached the other side.

I quickly added up what an estimated cost of all the cab fares would equal. And pointed out that this amount would be higher than the rental drop off fee. Only then did he reconsider paying the drop off fee. I could hear him clicking away at the keys on his computer. I’m sure he was researching the cab fares himself, just to verify what I was saying. When he came back onto the phone, he agreed to cover the drop off fee.

A victory for both of us. The insurance company saved money. And I was able to continue with my vacation without the huge inconvenience of hauling my baggage.

That is how I prefer to do negotiations. Not to get the best deal, but to ensure that everyone gets what they need or want. I understood what my insurance adjustor’s needs were. And I was willing to help him get what he needed. I expected the same from him. In this case, by ensuring that I got what I needed, my insurance adjustor saved his company money. A win-win situation.

Now I just have to figure out how I’m going to get all this baggage onto the airplane for the flight home!

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