Claimants who settle or win their personal injury cases often choose to take the settlement amount in either one large payment or a set of installments over a period of time. Being paid in series of payments is called structured settlement. This periodic, tax-free settlement amount is designed to meet the injured party's requirements. An expert consultant works with the claimant to carry out the settlement process. He is also responsible to design and negotiate the best deal for the claimant. This is why it is important to choose the settlement company carefully.
Here are 21 important tips that will help you make an informed decision.
1. Tax obligation: the tax liability over the settlement amount depends on whether the money will compensate you for personal injury or is meant as a punishment for the defendant. Your settlement company should be well versed with the law surrounding lump sum or periodic payments.
2. Identify your needs: You need to determine how you intend to use the settlement amount for the settlement company to design the best structure for you. Do you plan to donate the money? Replace an old car? Pay your bills for months to come?
3. Money management skills: Are you capable of handling large sums of money productively or will you squander it away? If you are unsure of your capabilities, then you need to hire a financial professional who can manage the funds for you or invest it in a profitable venture. Some people seek professional advice from structured settlement companies as well. Make sure that the company you are planning to work with has the expertize in handling financial matters for its clients.
4. Financial planning: When looking for a structured settlement company, do check if they are equipped to handle financial planning for its clients. You may get tempted to use the money in wasteful luxuries. However, your consultant should be able to guide you and help you make more prudent choices.
5. Reputation: before you hire a structured settlement company, you must run a thorough research into their background as well as their reputation. The company you will eventually work with should be trustworthy and must have a clean service record.
6. Customer service: what good is a financial management company that does not offer you satisfactory customer service? This is the most basic expectation one has from any service provider. If you notice that the service reps are inattentive to your queries or lack knowledge to answer simple questions, then you should keep looking.
7. Transparency: never work with a company that minces words, especially if you are entrusting your money in their hands. Your structured settlement company should be clear and transparent in its dealings with you and the offender.
8. Willingness to Answer questions: you will have a million questions when you want to choose between lump sum and structured payments. The structured settlement company should be patient and willing to answer all your queries until you are convinced about the choice you made.
9. Preparedness: is your structured settlement company prepared with all the answers and have every information you need? Are they giving you enough time to assuage your doubts? Settlement is an incredibly important decision for a claimant. If you find that the settlement company is rushing you through things, then treat that as a red flag.
10. Due Diligence: never underestimate the importance of due diligence. Thoroughly research the companies and look at third party sites for feedback and testimonials from previous clients.
11. Get everything in writing: don't let your glib structured settlement company rep talk you into anything. You must take everything in writing before you sign the dotted line. A reputed company will give you all the details in writing proactively.
12. Genuinely helpful: When choosing a structured settlement company, always go with the one that has a genuine interest in helping you. They should offer you high levels of service at all times and must represent your interest with absolute professionalism.
13. Tenure: It is always better to look into the company's history to get a rough idea about their work principles and ethics. A company that has been in business for long understands the importance of quality service.
14. Quick turnaround time: there is no point in working with a structured settlement company that can not deliver quick results. You should invest in a company that values time and can get you quick quotes within the stipulated timeframe.
15. Don't get fooled by the size: if you want your structured settlement company to give you personalized attention, then you need to avoid working large companies. Work with smaller ones who will be by your side throughout the process.
16. Experience: a company's success largely depends on the experience of its employees. Even if the structured settlement company is relatively new, the experience of its professionals can go a long way in securing the best settlement. Look for a company that has an excellent support system in place.
17. Reliability: Don't get sucked into the professional bloggers' trap who assure you that they know their craft. Instead, take your time in finding a well established company that has the experience and a system in place that you can trust.
18. Knowledgeable: expertize in the field of structured settlements will trump tenure any day. A company that diligently works in your good interest will have strong knowledge base and will offer you nothing less than an honest evaluation.
19. Reputed companies are in full control of the situation: the best way to spot a reliable structured settlement company amid so many options is to look for one that has its act together. The experts working in this company will guide you throughout the process and will keep you informed about changes or updates. They will always respect and value your decisions.
20. Efficient and empathetic: Settlement companies that take the time to understand you needs and guide you accordingly are the ones you need. They provide you with quotes in timely manner and stay patient throughout the settlement process.
21. Educate yourself about their background: a company that has a long and successful run in the industry will likely serve your needs well. They should be well versed with the local laws and should be able to resolve any transaction professionally.