June 16, 2021

DIY Claims Cookbook Aims to Empower Unrepresented Auto Claimants

Review of: Auto Accident Personal Injury Insurance Claim: How to Evaluate and Settle Your Loss by Dan Baldyga, 2003, 136 pp., PB, www.1stbooksw.com

DIY — Do It Yourself — is popular these days.  There is even a DIY channel on cable TV.  Home improvement projects are fertile ground when it comes to DIY.  Fewer, though, might undertake to become their own claims adjuster after being in an automobile collision.  Many people understandably find the insurance claims process forbidding and frustrating.

To the attempted rescue comes author Dan Baldyga in his book, Auto Accident Personal Injury Insurance Claim.  Though I have been in the insurance claims business for 30+ years, I had never heard of this book.  I only became aware of it recently in connection with consulting as an expert witness on a litigated insurance bad faith dispute.

Baldyga’s book is essentially a do-it-yourself guide for consumers who are willing to roll up their sleeves and try to handle their own automobile insurance claim. The context here is one of relatively modest injuries. The author, who claims to be a former insurance adjuster and who does not have a law degree, offers a “BASE” formula for unrepresented claimants and policyholders to use in negotiating with their insurance company for settlements. This formula is a multiple of the medical bills and damages quantified by the policy holder. The author hopes to create a level playing field between the unrepresented consumer and the insurance adjuster. (By unrepresented, we mean somebody who has not hired an attorney to handle their insurance claim.)

Baldyga clearly believes that he can empower consumers to handle their own insurance claims and to reach a satisfactory resolution.

Those of us in the insurance claim field may take sharp exception to is formulaic approach, which he calls by the acronym — “BASE” approach. It gives a Low range value, Core value, Mean value and Premium value for an injury claim. These involve multiplying special damages by factors of two, three, three-point-five and four.

“BASE” is an acronym that stands for Baldyga’s Auto accident Settlement Evaluation.

Adjusters may feel the BASE approach is base, and may be loath to confess that they utilize any formula, including but not limited to the “three times the specials” yardstick. For one thing, why should special damages for diagnostic tests like laboratory work, x-rays or other radiology imaging be multiplied by two, three or four times?

Second, using such the formula arguably encourages patients to seek overtreatment and excessive treatment in order to goose up their special damages. Tons of physical therapy.  “Heavy” bills for endless chiropractic care.  Etc.

Third, a formula does not take into account situations of overtreatment or thorny causation questions where there may arise fairly debatable issues as to whether the special damages are due to an auto accident or due to the natural progression of a pre-existing medical condition.

Liability factors may also be less than clear-cut, warranting some discounting off the multiplication formula.

These factors may undercut the utility and validity of formulaic approaches or any presumption that there is proportionality between medical bills and the true value of the claim. In some cases that may be correct. In other cases, it may be a foundation built on quicksand.

To his credit, Baldyga does not demonize insurance adjusters. He maintains the most claims adjusters are reasonably fair and are not out to victimize honest claimants. By and large, he finds that they (adjusters) are professionals and he believes that they’re always looking for ways to finalize a case, not looking for ways to deny claims. As he states, “Contrary to public opinion most adjusters don’t stay up nights attempting to create new ways to resist the payment of a claim.”  He recommends that disgruntled consumers and policyholders keep their cool and not unload on claims adjusters.

Baldyga maintains that he has a lifetime of experience in the field of motor vehicle accidents, personal injury and compensation. Personal injury attorneys may wince at this book since, if it has its intended effect, it will result in fewer cases going to attorneys.

Four intrepid consumers who want a guidebook and cookbook for navigating the automobile car insurance process, Baldyga’s book may provide a handy reference guide. It’s advice may rankle claims adjusters in its fundamental formulaic approach, however.


  1. Your style is very unique in comparison to other folks I’ve read stuff from. Thanks for posting when you’ve got the opportunity, Guess I will just book mark this blog.

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