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Dawson and Rosenthal
Dawson and Rosenthal

Timeline for Insurance Claims

If you or somebody you care about has been injured or sustained property damage caused by the actions of another driver, you expect to be compensated one way or another. More often than not, injury and property damage cases are resolved through settlements with insurance carriers. However, when it is time to file a claim with an auto insurance carrier, it is helpful to know what you can expect during the claims process, as well as how long it may take for you to receive the compensation you are entitled to. It is important to remember that every insurance company handles car accident claims a bit differently, but most of the information here is similar between companies.

How long do you have to submit a claim?

It is generally recommended to submit a claim to your insurance carrier as soon as possible after a collision occurs. In most cases, the policy language requires that the accident be reported fairly soon after it occurs, and failing to report a claim could result in the insurance carrier delaying or denying compensation.

There are separate state-level statutes of limitation involved in these cases, but those apply only to civil lawsuits related to personal injury or property damage. Generally, these statutes of limitation come a few years after the accident. You cannot wait more than a day or two to file your insurance claim.

The steps in between making a claim and receiving payment

There are various steps that take place in between making a claim and payment being made. Injury victims need to ensure they receive medical care and continue all treatment until they reach maximum medical improvement. In general, no car accident injury victim should settle until they have finished their treatment.

Additionally, insurance claims adjusters from all insurance carriers will investigate the claim. They may inspect the vehicle, and they will certainly look into what happened to cause the accident so they can determine fault. Insurance claims adjusters can be intrusive, and their goal is to limit the amount of money they pay any person when it comes to a settlement. It is strongly advised that car accident victims work with a skilled attorney who can handle all communication with the insurance claims adjusters.

How quickly must an insurance company pay a claim?

How quickly an insurance carrier pays a claim depends on several factors, including where you live and the specific factors related to the particular case. Most states protect consumers by ensuring that insurance companies handle claims promptly. Some states even require that a claim be resolved in a specific amount of time. In California, for example, insurance carriers have 40 days to deny or accept a claim. If the insurance carrier needs more time, they have to notify the policyholder every 30 days about the status of the claim. After a settlement is agreed upon, the insurance carrier is required to issue payment within 30 days. If an insurance carrier fails to follow the law of California, they could be guilty of bad faith insurance practices.

Looking at the law in California, we can see that consumers will generally receive their settlement fairly quickly. However, that is not always the case. There could be complications in these situations, particularly if fault for the crash is disputed. California operates under a pure comparative negligence system, which means that parties that share fault for an incident can receive compensation (even if they are up to 99% at fault), though the total amount of compensation they receive will be reduced based on their percentage of fault. If multiple insurance carriers involved disagree on the level of fault between the parties, this could result in delays.