How Long Does an Insurance Claim Take?

If you’re filing an insurance claim to cover the costs of a car accident, damage to your property, or a personal injury, then you are already on the right path. You did the right thing by purchasing an insurance plan in the first place. Part or all of your bills will be covered by insurance. The final amount depends on the circumstances of the accident, and your insurance terms.

The question is – how long does an insurance claim take to settle? In this article, we will explore the process of filing an insurance claim and the factors that may influence the speed of the investigation.

When to File and When Not to

You might be surprised to find out that filing an insurance claim is not always worthwhile. There are different situations in which you should file a claim, and others when you’re better off just paying the expenses out of pocket if you can afford it.

Here are some reasons why you should file an insurance claim:

  • Someone was injured in the accident;
  • It is unclear whose fault it was; or
  • The damage is greater than your deductible

Thus if you got in a vehicle accident with another driver, it is unclear whose fault it was, and someone got injured, you should start by filling a police report. It also makes sense to file a claim with your insurer. The same goes for accidents where other people are not involved, but the cost of repairs seems to be higher than your deductible. 

Here are some reasons why you shouldn’t file an insurance claim: 

  • The damage is less than your deductible;
  • The accident was your fault; or
  • The damage to your vehicle is minimal.

When deciding whether you should or shouldn’t file an insurance claim, you need to consider your insurance policy in relation to the situation. For example, if you damaged your car by backing into your mailbox or garage door, you can only file a claim if your insurance covers such damages. 

You should also be aware of rising premiums. If the insurance company notices that their losses have become higher than their profits, they can increase their rates. Thus, the more insurance claims you file, the greater the chances of your rates increasing. So while it may seem smart to file an insurance claim to cover the minor damage to your car in the short run, it may turn into increased rates in the long run.

Steps to Take Before Filing an Insurance Claim

Once you’ve decided that you are going to file an insurance claim, there are some steps you need to take first. Go through this checklist and make sure you’ve done all of those before filing the claim.

Call the police

This step is not necessary for filing a claim, but it will undoubtedly help gather evidence. You don’t need to call the police every time you’re about to file a claim. Only do so if someone is injured,  there is significant damage, or a crime was committed. The police will prepare an official document that describes the events of the crash. That can help you in filing your insurance claim.

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Gather evidence

Evidence can make or break your claim. In the best-case scenario, you might even have some witnesses on your side. However, eyewitness accounts are not that common in auto accidents, so you need to take matters into your own hands. To ensure the success of your claim, take pictures of the accident scene, the vehicles involved, their license plates, and the injuries (if there are any). If the people involved are cooperating, you can exchange phone numbers and keep a detailed account of any conversations you had on the spot. 

If you have any injuries, you should head to the hospital as soon as possible and undergo a medical evaluation to document these injuries. You should also keep a record of the time limit of the accident. Start by jotting down the approximate time of the crash, the time the police came, the time you got to the hospital, etc. These steps will help ensure that your claim goes through. 

Watch what you say

Unless you’re a licensed lawyer, you should hold your testimonials until you speak with your insurance company. If you want to get reimbursed for the damages, it’s in your best interest not to admit guilt to anyone involved. Your insurance company will act as your attorney and in your best interest. Your only job in the situation is to let them do their job. 

File the claim

Once you get home, you can contact your insurance company and figure out your next steps. Share the details of the incident with the insurance agent to find out what documents you need to fill out, what evidence you need to provide, and the deadline for filing the claim. In the case of a car accident where the other driver took the blame, you will need to file a claim with their insurance company. If you’re unsure about your situation, you can check with your insurance agent and keep them in the loop. 

Do you need legal assistance?Find the right lawyer in your area.

Understanding the Claim You’re Filing

There are different types of insurance claims you can file depending on the circumstances of the accident. To answer the question, “How long does an auto insurance claim take?”, we need to know what type of claim we’re talking about. It’s good to know the most common types so if you ever get in an accident, you can have an idea of what claim to file. Here are some of them:

Glass claim

Glass claims concern broken or damaged glass, as you can tell by the name. The actual claim is usually handled quite quickly. You can also schedule a repair within a week. If the glass comes from a particular manufacturer that’s not as common, it might take longer. Overall, this is one of the more straightforward claims to handle.

Total-loss claim

You may file a total-loss claim when the damages to the car are not worth repairing anymore. In other words, it would be more cost-effective to purchase a new vehicle than to repair the old damaged one. It may be difficult to agree on the correct payout settlement when it comes down to it. It may take a month or even longer process a total-loss claim.

Medical claim

A party may file a medical claim if injured. It may take a while to process, but it’s quite easy to file. Once you’ve submitted the claim, you don’t need to provide any additional paperwork. The insurance company should be able to communicate with the hospital or doctor directly. 

Factors That Delay a Claim Settlement

So, how long does a car insurance claim take? The final answer will depend on several factors. You already know how the type of claim you’re filing may delay the final decisions. Here are some more factors that may delay the settlement. 

Communication

First and foremost, you always need to be available via phone, email, and mail. Believe it or not, poor communication is a frequent contributor to delays in claim settlements. Make sure your insurance agent has all of your information and can reach you at any moment. Even a mistake as silly as the wrong letter in your email address or number in your phone number may result in lengthy and unwanted delays.

Misunderstanding

Delays can happen when you submit a claim for something your insurance doesn’t cover. In addition, any misunderstandings regarding your insurance coverage may lead to problems in the future. To avoid that, consult with your insurance company before submitting your claim. If you can make sure everything is up to par before submitting the claim, it’ll save you and the insurance company a lot of time.

Dissatisfaction

If you’re not happy with the quality of the repairs done to your vehicle, you need to speak up right away. People often rush to get everything done on time, and that’s understandable. You probably need your car to get to work, drive your kids to school, etc. However, a few days of discomfort will be well worth it if that means you can get your insurance claim processed in time. 

Deductibles

When your car is being repaired, you need to be able to pay your deductible to the insurance company. If you’re having problems with your cash flow and cannot come up with the money on the spot, the insurance claim will take longer to process. It’s best to prepare for these situations and save up some cash for car emergencies. 

Who Is Involved in the Claims Process?

Insurance claims often take so long because there are so many people involved. It all starts with the insurance agent. That’s the person you contact to file an insurance claim. They help you with all the paperwork and push the claim forward. Now, the process can begin.

An adjuster will investigate your claim. The adjuster is the person that will determine how much of the damage the insurance company can cover. They will allocate resources to your claim and ultimately determine your fate. The adjuster may turn to other people for help in counting the damages. They may hire appraisers to be as accurate as possible. 

What to Do If It Is Taking Too Long

Sometimes, the amount of time processing the claim will take is entirely out of your hands. For example, maybe the insurance company you signed with is overwhelmed with work, and your claim is not the highest priority. While nobody likes to hear that, there is not much you can do about it. Your best bet is to reach out to your insurance agent and inquire about the policy regarding the time frame. 

If it seems like the process will take a while and you need a car as soon as possible, consider getting a rental car for the time being. Check with your insurance company to see if they will cover the cost of the vehicle. It’s not the perfect solution, but it is a vehicle that will get you places. 

Final Thoughts

How long does it take to process an insurance claim? The timeline spans from a few days to a few months. It all depends on the type of claim you’re filing, how busy your insurance company is, and numerous other factors. Follow the tips above to speed up the process and be smart about how you file claims!

Article by Megan Thompson

Megan Thompson is a legal writer at Lawrina. Megan writes about different law practice areas, legal innovations, and shares her knowledge about her legal practice. As a graduate of the American University's Washington College of Law she is an expert of law in Lawrina's team and has a slight editing touch to all content that is published on the website.

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