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February 24, 2021

How Long Does a Car Insurance Claim Take to Settle?

Are you wondering how long it will take to settle your insurance claim following an accident? Today we’ll have a look at some of the factors that affect processing times, some of the things you can do to shorten the process, and even some steps you can take to avoid possible delays.

Who is involved in processing claims?

The first thing you’ll want to understand is that insurance claims involve multiple companies and people, including the insuring bodies and claims adjusters of all parties involved in the accident, any garages and body shops working on the vehicles involved, law enforcement officials reporting the accident, and the actual victims of the accident. This introduces the possibility of delays at any link in this long chain.

On a related note, different insurance companies have different philosophies and policies on claims handling, which can range from conservative to liberal. This will affect how smoothly claims processing goes, as companies can reach an easy agreement, get involved in drawn out litigation, or anything in between. Additionally, any repair services involved can either speed things up or slow things down. For instance, if a garage is well stocked, it may have a needed part on hand for the indicated repair. A smaller garage, though, may need to send out for parts.

A lot of paperwork will also be changing a lot of hands, inviting further delays. If claims adjusters, police officials, or claimants take their time in submitting, reviewing, and/or signing paperwork, a claim may take significantly longer to process than if those involved are on the ball. Poor communication can equally throw a wrench in the works.

What are the different kinds of insurance policies and claims?

Processing times also depend on the insuring companies and the types of insurance policies involved, as well. This also related to the state you are filing in, as there are a range of state mandates regarding coverage requirements and filing times.

There a range of different claim types that can be submitted, including roadside assistance for disabled vehicles, glass claims for cracked or shattered windshields, total loss claims for wrecked vehicles, or physical damage for reparable cases – in which case, the damage can be solely to vehicles or to property, as well. Obviously, any associated property damage or medical claims for bodily injury bring with them the potential for additional processing times. The same is true for any legal proceedings that arise from an accident, which can even lead to years-long delays in some cases.

Common causes for delays

An accident’s complexity and the number of vehicles and people involved can also impact how long it takes to process a claim. Typically, the more complex, the longer the processing times will be. Understandably, a multi-vehicle pileup is likely to require more processing time than a fender-bender between two cars. You should also be aware that personal injuries tend to require more attention and assessing than damage to vehicles, resulting in lengthier processing times.

It should also go without saying that if you are, or someone else involved in an accident is, strapped for cash and can’t pay a deductible, this will put any claim on hold, as these need to be paid at the time repairs are initiated. Finally, if an accident involves any natural disaster situation or any other situation that affects a large number of people, you can expect delays due to the high number of claims being processed at one time.

What you can do to avoid delays

The first thing you can do to minimize claims processing times is to be proactive. This means getting your claim in quickly and making sure you submit any documents or information they ask for in a timely fashion. In this regard, it helps to maintain good records so you know you will always have the information you need on hand. Take photos of the accident yourself as a backup to any evidence insurers or law enforcement collect. Also make sure you get insurance information from anyone else involved in the access, as well as their personal details and the basic details on their vehicle.

Additionally, you’ll want to double-check any estimates on repairs. Make sure they are actually going to make the necessary repairs ahead of time, rather than getting your car back half fixed and needing to take it in for a second round of repairs. Also, in some cases, depending on your deductible amount, you may even be wiser to opt to pay out of pocket, thus avoiding the whole issue of claims processing and any delays involved.

The same is true regarding settlements in cases of personal injury. Sometimes, it may be to your advantage both financially and timewise to settle out of court rather than go ahead with lengthy litigation procedures, but it is always best to consult a lawyer on such matters.

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