Negotiating with Insurance Companies: During and After the Meeting
What are some things to look for during the negotiations?
Arrive early for the negotiations. This will give you time to acclimate to the surroundings, prepare mentally, and allow you to informally meet the other negotiators. Try to get to know them. The more you learn about the other side, the better. Talk about hobbies, position in the organization, family and possible mutual acquaintances. Find out what makes them tick, their interests, and personality. This might be useful in later negotiations.
Keep the discussions on target. Discussions and negotiations may get off track for a variety of reasons. Wandering discussions may be a negotiating tactic used to change the topic or pacify the opponent. These are called “dance tactics” because they are used to “dance around” the main issue. Bring the other side back to your main issue and restate the problem. Remain calm, polite, but firm. Avoid emotional outbursts.
During negotiations, avoid overloading the discussion. Remain on target to achieve your primary objective. Only move to the next agenda item if you are satisfied with the outcome of the previous item and have a plan to implement the changes. You also may move to the next item when you feel the negotiations are stalling and you are stuck on the subject.
Move on if everything seems to be said, there does not seem to be common ground, participants start repeating their positions, or you feel that spending more time on the topic will not lead to a positive outcome. One option is to table the item but state that you would like to continue the discussion on this topic, keeping the door open for a renewed effort or changed strategy.
When the meeting is coming to an end, restate the agreed actions or solutions. Make sure everyone hears what has been agreed on and who will take what action in what time frame. Clarity is key. Thank the other party for taking the time to meet with you and reiterate that you look forward to the implementation of the agreed points or to the next meeting to continue the positive dialogue.
What do I do after the negotiations?
Immediately after the negotiations, regroup privately and evaluate the meeting. What went right? What went wrong? What has been accomplished? How do these accomplishments relate to the main goals? Who will write the summary of the meeting? What are the next steps?
Someone should provide a summery of the meeting to all team members and possibly chapter members or committees. Send a copy to the insurance company for review. It is crucial to have a paper trail of your negotiations.
This brief recap of the negotiation is important and reiterates that everyone heard the same things and is on the same page. Try to pinpoint those on the other side who seem to be most receptive to your problem and possible solutions. Determine options to pursue during the next meeting as well as options that need further exploration. Preparation is important. Preparation for the next meeting should begin immediately after the last meeting.
Next, relax and step away from the problem for a couple of days. Clear your mind so you can tackle the issue with renewed energy and clear vision.
For More Negotiating Information
- Cohen H. You Can Negotiate Anything. New York, NY: Bantam Books; 1982.
- Ury W. Getting Past NO. Revised edition. New York, NY: Bantam Books; 1993.
- Mills H. The Streetsmart Negotiator: how to outfox, outmaneuver, and outlast your opponents. New York, NY: AMACOM; 2005.
- Camp J. Start with NO: The Negotiating Tools That the Pros Don't Want You to Know. New York, NY: Crown Business; 2002.
- Hindle T. Negotiating Skills. New York, NY: DK Publishing, Inc.; 1998.