How Long do Auto Insurance Claims Take?

August 30, 2019

You carry auto insurance to help you should you experience a loss due to an accident or another disaster. When it comes time to filing a claim, though, it can get rather nerve-wracking. What do you do? How long does it take?

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We help you understand everything there is to know about the timing of an auto insurance claim below.

The 30-Day Goal

Most insurance companies aim to pay out on insurance claims in 30 days or less. This is in a perfect world when all pieces come together seamlessly. When you file an insurance claim, though, you deal with more than your insurance agent. You also deal with the claims adjuster, the other parties involved in the accident, and the body shop. Depending on your insurance company’s setup, you may deal with several representatives at the insurance company as well.

The process requires the cooperation of all parties, including yourself. The insurance company needs information from both parties as well as the body shop. They need facts and figures to determine how much they will pay out on the claim. The insurance company must determine who is at fault and who is responsible for payment too.

Depending on the state that you live, there may be a hard deadline on how long a person has to file an insurance claim. In some states, for example, drivers get 30 days to file a claim after an accident. That could delay the process if you are waiting for payment and not everyone filed.

Instant Payments

In some cases, insurance companies provide instant or immediate payments for certain expenses. Roadside assistance, towing, or glass replacement typically provide the fastest results when filing an insurance claim – oftentimes you don’t even have to pay anything out of pocket for roadside assistance or towing. If you use a company that contracts with your insurance company, the insurance company can cut a check directly to the provider without involving you.

Damage Claims

If your car has damage that requires body shop services, expect to wait a little longer for your payout. First, you need to file the claim and then the claims adjuster needs to come out and see the car. Most insurance companies try to get the adjuster out within 2-3 days, but it depends on the company, where you live, and the workload at the time.

Next, you must work with a body shop. If you do this in conjunction with your insurance company, you may find that the process goes faster. Some insurance companies work directly with specific body shops, paying them rather than you. This allows you to get the work done faster because the body shop knows they will get paid from the insurance company. If you use a body shop not tied into the insurance company, you have to wait for the insurance company to issue you a check and send it in the mail. This could take approximately one to two weeks.

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Totaled Car Claims

If the insurance company totals your car, expect to wait at least 30 days for the claim payout. It takes more than the insurance company stating that your car is a total loss. They have to get all parties in agreement and they need signatures from everyone involved. If you don’t agree with the payout, you may have to go back and forth with the insurance company to work out the issues to try to get the amount you want.

How You Can Speed up Insurance Claims

Luckily, there are a few ways that you can speed up insurance claims. Most importantly, stay in contact with everyone. If you don’t hear from your insurance agent for a day or two, follow up with him or her. If the insurance agent reaches out to you, but you miss the call, respond quickly. Remember, you aren’t the only client filing a claim, so time is of the essence so that you don’t fall to the back of the line.

You should also do your research before choosing a body shop to do the work. Read reviews and talk to others that used the body shop. If you are unhappy with the repairs, it could delay the claim and your ability to get your car back. While it’s helpful to use a body shop that works with your insurance company, if they provide poor workmanship, it can just delay things even longer.

The bottom line is that it can take a week to a few months to finalize an insurance claim on a car. The cooperation of everyone involved will help move the process along the fastest. Always contact your insurance agent first and see which channels you need to use to move the claim along in the process as fast as possible.

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