How Long Does It Take for Insurance to Pay a Claim?

Last Updated on December 30, 2020

If you’ve recently been involved in a car accident, you may be wondering when exactly your insurance company is going to pay your claim. When you need to make repairs to your car and get back out on the road, it’s understandable that you would want that money as soon as possible. However, the time it takes to pay an insurance claim can vary depending on your insurance company as well as the circumstances surrounding your claim. Here’s what you need to know about insurance claims and how long insurers generally take to pay up.

How Do Insurance Companies Process Claims?

To understand how long it will take for your insurance company to pay you back, you’ll need to have an understanding of how insurance companies process their claims. Your insurance company has a full team working on your claim, so it may need to go through multiple people before your payment is approved.

Typically you’ll need to file a claim over the phone (although some companies do allow you to do it online). The person on the phone will help you fill out and file the initial claim form. Then, it needs to go to the adjuster to assess the claim and make sure it is legitimate, which may require you to be available for more phone calls or to submit photos. The time it takes to file your claim can also depend on your auto repair shop. In most cases, you’ll be getting your car repaired before the claim is paid out, and you will use the claim money for reimbursement.

Because this is a multi-step process, your claim can drag on for a while if there is a holdup at any point. However, it’s important to remember that your insurance company wants to get your claim settled as quickly as possible. In most cases, they will aim to have your claim settled in about a month. If it is a serious accident with injuries, or if there is any delay in getting key information, the claim could take two to three months.

What Factors Affect Your Claims Processing Time?

There are a number of different factors that can affect the overall time it takes for your insurance company to process your claim. Here’s what to watch out for.

  • When you initially file the claim. If you want your claim to be processed quickly, it’s important to file it as soon as you can after the accident. It’s much easier for the insurance adjusters to gather evidence from a recent accident than one that happened several months earlier. Additionally, many states have laws that limit when you can file an insurance claim. In most places, you’ll need to do it within 30 days of the accident.
  • Your insurance company’s claims processing system. Large insurance companies have bigger claims departments with more staff, so they will likely be able to process your claims much faster. In some cases, you’ll even be able to file or track your claim online, so you know exactly what’s happening. However, smaller insurance companies might not have the manpower to process claims as quickly.
  • Fault in the accident. If it’s clear who is at fault in a car accident, it should be easy for the claims adjusters to determine which insurance company gets the money and who is paying for what. However, if the fault is a little less obvious, your insurer may need to spend a little more time analyzing the situation. In the most complex cases, you may even need to get a lawyer involved, which can slow down the process quite a bit.
  • Injuries and property damage. In a small fender-bender, it’s easy to determine what kind of repairs you need and how much they are going to cost. Things like glass or towing claims are also fairly easy to process and shouldn’t take too long. However, if you are in an accident with more serious property damage, things won’t be so straightforward. It will be much more difficult to determine what kind of repairs you need and how much they will cost. If you add injuries and medical costs into the mix, things can get even more complicated.

What Can I Do to Speed up the Process?

The first thing you can do to make the claims process easier is to file your claim as soon as possible after the accident. You should also make an effort to provide your insurer with all of the documents and evidence they need. This includes getting a copy of the police report as well as any relevant medical documents if someone was injured. If you are able to take pictures of the accident immediately afterward, do so, as this can make a huge difference when it comes to assessing fault.

Another thing you can do to ensure that claims get processed quickly is to have a full understanding of the type of coverage that you have to avoid disputes. Keep your contact information up to date with the insurance company and be sure to answer the phone when they call. You should also try to pay your deductible as soon as possible, as this can also hold up your claims processing time.

If your claim is taking a long time and you are unsure why, don’t hesitate to contact the insurance company. If you have an agent, it can be very helpful to talk directly with them, as they can serve as an advocate for you within the insurance company. You can also ask if your insurance policy will cover a rental car while you are waiting for repairs. Many policies have this as an add-on.

Communication is essential for smoothing out any problems that might come up during the claims process. The faster you file your claim, the faster your insurance company can pay it and help you get back out on the road.

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