How long can an auto insurance claim stay open?

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Things to remember...

  • Insurance companies are often controlled by the insurance department of the state
  • Financial instability can affect how quickly some insurance claims are settled
  • You have to do your due diligence in providing information as it is requested
  • Not all insurance companies settle claims at the same speed

When you get into an accident, you want your car repaired as quickly as possible. Additionally, if there have been any injuries, you want to make sure insurance pays the medical bills promptly.

The time it takes an insurance company to settle a claim depends on the following:

  • the individual company
  • the state regulations
  • the individual scenario

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State Regulations

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Many states have regulations in place that identify how quickly insurance companies need to settle claims. Some states are very specific while others say “in a reasonable amount of time.” As for what reasonable means, room is left for interpretation.

You will want to identify the rules and regulations within your state. The Department of Insurance will provide you with all of the specifics.

This information will help you to stay on top of the insurance company and ensure that they are handling your insurance claim in a timely fashion.

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The Insurance Company

Every insurance company works slightly differently. Claims might be created online or by calling a person on the phone. Either way, once you start the claims process, there are timelines that the insurance company must follow.

This process includes assigning an adjuster to your case, conducting an investigation, and paying all of the necessary bills.

Some insurance companies have a better reputation for fast settlement claims. This reputation is something you will want to explore when you start looking at quotes from different insurance companies.

The cheapest policy is not always the best policy, especially if you want claims taken care of in a timely manner.

Companies that experience financial instability might take longer to settle claims because they don’t have the cash flow to cover the various claims that come in.

It’s a good idea to conduct some of your own research using companies like A.M. Best. This research will allow you to look at the financial stability of the insurance company.

You can then make a better and more informed decision about who you choose to get your auto insurance policy from based upon how they are rated.

You and The Accident

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You are a major factor in how long the insurance company takes to file the claim. You have to follow the claims process as identified by the company.

Some insurance companies put a time limit on for how long you have to make a claim. If you exceed this limit, then there is no claims process to go through.

The accident’s severity is going to be taken into consideration. More severe accidents involving a car being totaled or more people getting hurt are going to take longer because there are more components to deal with.

Any time the insurance company has to pay more money, they spend more time conducting an investigation. This investigation is for your benefit as well as theirs.

There might be questions for you to answer along the way. Depending on the state and/or the insurance company, you will have a specific amount of time to answer the questions.

Failure to answer in a timely fashion could hold up the investigation or cause the claim to close without you receiving any kind of settlement.

Some questions include:

  • The names of any witnesses
  • What you were doing when the accident took place
  • If you were wearing a seatbelt
  • What injuries were sustained by you and any passengers in your car

You might also be asked to provide photographs, copies of police reports, medical bills, and more. Every case is different and therefore it could take days or even months for a claim to settle.

What happens if an insurance company isn’t following the rules?

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If you have done all of your due diligence filing a claim on time and the insurance company hasn’t closed the claim, you have the option of taking action.

Particularly if you have a car that is not in driving condition or you have medical bills adding up, you want the claim settled quickly.

Insurance companies are required to communicate the status of the claim to you. This communication might be done by email or by written communication that is mailed to you. Either way, you should always know where you are at with the claims process.

There should also be a person assigned to your case so you can get updates.

This contact allows you to check on such things as:

  • When you can get repairs scheduled
  • When bills will be paid
  • When the claim will close

If you are in a state where there are specific time regulations, you will be able to use the communication to determine whether the insurance company has exceeded these time frames or not.

Whether the insurance company has gone past the timelines or they are not communicating with you, you have the ability to file a complaint.

Complaints are made with the Department of Insurance inside of your state. It opens up an investigation for the state to take over and find out what is going on with the insurance company.

Whenever there is a claim, you and the insurance company have responsibilities. You need to provide information that is requested of you in a timely fashion.

Additionally, insurance companies need to communicate and conduct investigations according to timelines. Most claims are settled within the 60 days, though there may be reasons why they take longer.

If you feel that the insurance company is taking longer than what’s allowed, it might be beneficial to contact the state.

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