Talking to your insurer part 2: Negotiation

Negotiating with a case manager

Unfortunately you will be reliant on your case manager for the vast majority of your treatment in the NSW workers compensation system. As important as it is to maintain a friendly association with your insurer this is not always going to be possible, negotiation is going to be a key skill you will have to learn.

It’s best to think of the negotiation as an ongoing conversation

Know what you want and don’t let yourself be side tracked

This is the first rule of negotiating. If you don’t know what you want then you aren’t asking for anything, and you are then likely to get something you didn’t want or nothing at all.  Some people talk about negotiation like its a game of chess, its not. It is more like a bushwalk. Other people have done the walk before you, there is a map with rules about where to go and what to avoid. You may be blocked at some stages but generally there will be a way around it before you need to give up (and ways that other people have taken to succeed). As well as that, it might take longer than you anticipated or be quicker than you anticipated.

Knowledge is the greatest tool you can use.

Knowledge wins negotiations. The more you know compared to your “opposite number” the greater your chances are of winning the negotiation. Knowledge is truly the greatest tool.

When negotiating with your case manager it is not only your knowledge that is important. Use the knowledge of others such as your doctor when you are asking for a particular medical treatment (in most cases it will be better received by your case manager if the request comes from your doctor or medical team)

The more you know about the rights and responsibilities you and they have, the greater your chances of success. That’s the reason why we use a solicitor when we go to the Workers Compensation Commission. Their knowledge is greater than ours and court is nothing but a place where negotiation happens.

Reading the information on our website, asking questions on our site and attending our members meetings are three great ways you can increase your knowledge.

 Asking questions.

Asking questions is a great negotiating strategy. It increases your knowledge while not giving away anything yourself. Asking questions also makes the other person feel that you are engaging with them –increasing the chances of a positive relationship which is what you want.

Creating a positive relationship.

Friends do more for each other than enemies. This doesn’t mean you need to give anything away to them. Being polite, talking in a calm voice, having a smile on your face if you need to talk to them, these “tools” help the other person feel less anxious about talking to you and gives them a reason to be more generous to you than if there wasn’t a positive relationship.

Forgive but don’t forget.

This is related to creating a positive relationship. You wont win every round- no one ever does. In the world of Workers Compensation things are also stacked against you if your injury doesn’t fit in to their ideal model. It is also a fact that you will need to go back time and time again to “negotiate” with the insurers. To help ensure the next time you talk to them is better than the time before it is important to forgive the other side if they “won” the last round. But you don’t forget what happened- that becomes part of your knowledge and can assist you when the same situation plays out again.

Keep in touch.

The worst mistake you can make is not to respond to the other side if they contact you. At law, if some one sues you and you don’t turn up to court or respond to the other persons lawyers, a judge will assume you agree with the person suing you and make a judgement against you. This is and example of what happens to most people when they don’t get a response but have to make a decision. If you don’t respond, they will think you agree with them and decide in their favour. So what ever you do, make sure you respond to the other side – you don’t need to do anything more than let them know you have received their letter, or heard what they have said- but you do need them to know you are still talking to them.

Technological Note.

-In today’s world we do a lot of this through the email (for those with email). Please remember:

Emails between people are NOT conversations –they are letters and we think of them in the same as a physical letter. They are not “texting” and they are definitely not “conversations”. In negotiations do not respond without first thinking about an email as if it is a letter going through the normal physical postal system.

Keep calm.

There’s an old debating rule: The person who gets angry first has lost. No matter how justified you may be, in negotiation this is true. Keep calm, talk in a normal voice, don’t swear. Those are tactics of negotiation; they aren’t just there to “keep the peace”. They are tactics that help you get what you want.

Negotiation is not about crushing the opposition.

This is a common fault while negotiating. It might feel like the insurers have all the cards, but you can still make a complaint or take the matter to the Workers Compensation Commission. It is all about

Take written notes.

There are a few reasons for this but the main one for negotiations is knowledge for the future. The more you accurately remember what happened before, the greater your knowledge and the more you know than the opposition, the more likely you will be to win.