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ICBC Negotiation tactics: 24 Hour deadlines [Part 1/5]

ICBC claim negotiation tactics - Part 1Have you ever been manipulated by effective negotiation tactics?

Of course you have.  We all have.

It takes life experience to recognize negotiating tactics for what they are so as to avoid the manipulative effect.  If effectively used, you don’t know that it’s happening.  You get a sick feeling in your stomach, after the fact, if it is pointed out to you or you otherwise come to the realization that you have been duped.

I have come to that “sick to my stomach” realization more often than I’d like to admit.  It feels awful to realize that I’ve been manipulated, however it occurs.  Since I make a living negotiating personal injury claims, it has bitten particularly hard when I have been personally manipulated in a negotiation.

Every negotiation tactic in the book has been attempted against me and my clients over the years.  A lot of my work in a negotiation is explaining to my client that this or that move made by ICBC or another insurance company is just a tactic, and shouldn’t distract them from insisting on fair, financial compensation for their injuries and losses.

Those same tactics are used against those who are attempting to negotiate their claims directly with ICBC or another insurance company without the assistance of a lawyer.  This is the first of a series of columns to help you recognize those tactics so that you are not manipulated like so many others have been.

Recognizing negotiation tactics in the context of the negotiation of a personal injury claim should also help you recognize them in other negotiations you encounter.

I was recently consulted by a young lady who was given a 24 hour deadline to accept an ICBC offer, with the consequence that the offer would be reduced if she did not accept it.

It’s one of the “oldest tricks in the book”, and it had the desired effect.  The young lady felt pressured, buying into the tactic and frantically reaching out for legal advice.  It can be difficult arranging a consultation with a lawyer within a 24 hour window!  Had she not connected with me or another personal injury lawyer, the tactic might well have been successful in manipulating her into accepting an offer that wasn’t even in the ballpark of fair.

Providing a deadline for acceptance is a tactic that is used again and again and again by ICBC and other insurance companies, and it’s almost always complete nonsense.

If they are prepared to pay a certain amount of financial compensation for injuries and losses on a Tuesday, why would the passage of another 24 hours (or any other time frame) have any impact on that?

Why do they continue to use that tactic against me, even though they know that I can see right through it?

They know that I have to inform my client about the imposed deadline.  They know that however clearly I explain to my client that it is “just a tactic”, it is likely to cause at least some feeling of pressure and anxiety.

It is only the trust and confidence that my clients have in my advice that can keep those feelings of pressure and anxiety to a minimum so as to diffuse the effectiveness of the tactic.

There are rare circumstances when a time deadline is not just a tactic and should therefore be taken seriously.  One is when the deadline is the two year “limitation period” deadline.  If the second anniversary of a crash passes without a lawsuit being commenced to preserve your rights, your rights arising from the crash might forever be lost.  Different, shorter, limitation periods can apply to different types of legal claims, including some injury claims.  If you are the least bit uncertain about the limitation period that applies to your legal claim, please consult with a lawyer for clarification.

In my next column, I plan on advising about the “lowball offer” tactic, the mirror opposite of which was successfully used against me when I negotiated the purchase of a stone chess set in Mexico, which gave me that “sick feeling” in my stomach.

Published March 11, 2016 in the Kelowna Capital News

Read Next Column: ICBC Claim Negotiation Tactics: Lowball offers [Part 2/5]


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  • Hey Paul, I don’t read your column often as I am trying to avoid the situation(s) where I need your services. However, I am most impressed by your passion for the business you undertake, and the writing that you do. I am compelled to do something similar, in clean technologies. I could likely learn a lot from your writing experiences, and don’t be surprised if I try to cajole you over a beer to share some of what you have learned…

    Keep on fighting the fight!

    • Jim – I look forward to the opportunity. The world would benefit tremendously from you sharing your knowledge.