How to Write a Demand Letter

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A woman is typing on her computer. (Image: curtis_creative/iStock/Getty Images)

If you've suffered an injury or property damage due to a preventable accident or the carelessness of another party, you may need to write a demand letter to that other party's insurance company. A demand letter gives the insurer the story behind the incident, describes the damages, shows the costs of those damages and outlines the reasons why the other party was liable for those damages. The demand letter acts as a request for a payment amount to settle the claim without a lawsuit.

Explain the Incident

Insurance companies will want the full details of the incident during which the injuries occurred. This description should include the date and time the incident occurred, as well as any actions taken by yourself or the other party. This section will also demonstrate how the other party was at fault for the incident, either through their actions or their negligence. You should not include any information in the demand letter that could lead insurers to believe you were at fault for the incident, as it would harm your chances of receiving compensation for your injuries.

Describe the Damage

The demand letter should also include a detailed account of the damage or injuries you suffered from the incident, including any continuing treatment. For instance, you should mention if you are still being treated for headaches, neck pain, dizziness or otherwise from the incident. The description should include "action verbs" to depict the violent and dangerous nature of the damage. As an example, you can describe how the other party's car "crashed through" your fence.

Show the Expenses

Although you should include copies of any expenses resulting from the damage, such as hospital bills or contractor estimates, you should also include a line-item description of the expenses in your demand letter. If you suffered injuries that prevented you from working, you can also include an estimate of lost income due to those injuries. You can also mention any pain, discomfort, embarrassment or inconvenience suffered from the damage and include estimates for monetary damages.

State Your Demand

A major mistake that injured parties encounter is that they only request the bare minimum in their demand letters. The website FindLaw advises that you ask for up to double the amount you're seeking in your claim. The higher figure gives you some negotiating room with the insurance adjuster. You should also include a deadline for the insurer to respond before you consider taking legal action. For example, you can specify that, if the insurer does not respond within 30 days, you will contact an attorney and pursue a lawsuit.

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