Whether it was a parking lot fender bender or a highway vehicle pile up, all car accident claims have to go through an investigation process.
As a claimant, you’re worried and feel in the dark because you’re not quite sure what’s going on. To top it off, you’re without a car and might be in pain because of injuries. Needless to say, auto insurance claims are stressful experiences.
All of us just want our cars fixed, and our lives back to normal. But, before any of that can happen, you may be wondering how long does a car insurance claim take to settle?
Many factors can affect the length of your claim, but one thing that matters is your insurance company and the state you live in.
Every state has its own laws and regulations. There is no federal rule that gives companies a set amount of time because insurance companies are regulated at the state level.
California law gives insurance companies 15 days to acknowledge a claim. After that, they have 40 days after receiving documentation to accept responsibility or deny the claim. Payments for settlements have to be issued within 30 days of accepting the settlement.
States like Texas have 15 days to acknowledge and accept or deny the claim. But, companies have the option of asking for an extension of up to 45 days. New York has 15 days to acknowledge and 15 days after they have received all documents to accept or deny a claim.
The deadlines mentioned above only apply after an insurance company has received all documentation. This is important because any delay in receiving documents can drag the process. Other factors can also affect the length of time it takes to settle.
Even with clear liability, injuries can lengthen the process. Before a bodily injury claim can be resolved, the claimant must complete medical treatment and submit medical bills to the insurance company.
The type of injury can also be a determining factor. For example, severe injuries and those with a long recovery period can take time to settle. Even soft tissue injuries, such as whiplash and sprains, will require considerable time to investigate and resolve.
While states have their rules over how long claims can remain open, your insurance company also has its policies. Of course, theirs must comply with their state’s time limits. However, some companies might have a habit of cutting it close to their deadline or resolving it in record time.
While no one wants to wait around forever, you also don’t want an insurance company that hastily conducts its investigation. There should always be reasonableness between the quality of work and a reasonable timeframe.
Once an insurance company has made a final decision, a claimant can accept it or appeal the outcome. Even in cases where companies accept liability, a claimant may feel they are not being offered a fair deal.
In either case, a claimant has the right to file for legal action. But the court process, everything from the discovery period to going to trial, will definitely extend a claim for an indefinite amount of time.
Even though some things may be out of your control, there are a few things you can do to speed up your claim.
The amount of information you get at the accident scene can significantly impact not just the time it takes to finalize the claim but also its outcome.
Take photos of the scene, car damage, roads, intersections, and anything else you think can be relevant. Photos are excellent sources of evidence.
Get the other person’s contact and insurance information. If necessary, call the police so they can file a report.
Ideally, you’ll want to file a claim within 24 hours. Give your insurance all the information you gathered at the accident scene. The more information you give them, the better it is for them to do a thorough and prompt investigation.
Make sure you cooperate and be available for statements. Do what is asked of you. Take your car in for a vehicle inspection as soon as possible. Your insurance company can recommend one of their own, or you can choose your own body shop.
There’s no way around it, but an insurance claim is synonymous with paperwork. Fortunately, many documents are now digital, so you don’t have to worry about drowning in a pile of paper.
But it is still imperative that you stay on top of all your records. Documents can include everything from police reports to vehicle estimates and photographs. It also includes medical bills and records.
Your insurance company will be able to request certain documents without your help, but for others, they will only be able to obtain those from you. Make sure you keep a file for all of your accident-related documents. The more information you can provide, the better it will be for your adjuster to process the claim.
Insurance adjusters should be checking in with you regularly. If it has been several weeks since you’ve heard anything, call for an update.
The length of your claim is more within your control than you realize. And by being proactive and staying organized, you can significantly influence the amount of time it takes to process your claim.
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