If you have been involved in a car accident, one of the first things you need to do is file a claim with your insurance company. After all, this is what you pay your premiums for, right? But how long does it take for an insurance company to pay out a car accident claim? The answer is not as straightforward as you might think, as there are a number of factors that can impact the time it takes to receive your payout. In this article, we will explore the various factors that can affect the payout time and provide you with some tips to speed up the process.
Understanding the Claims Process
Before we delve into the factors that can impact the payout time, it’s important to understand how the claims process works. When you file a claim with your insurance company, the company will assign an adjuster to investigate the accident and determine who is at fault. This may involve reviewing police reports, medical records, and other documentation. Once the adjuster has completed their investigation, they will determine the amount of your claim and offer you a settlement.
Factors That Affect the Payout Time
Now that you understand the claims process, let’s take a closer look at the factors that can impact the payout time.
Severity of the Accident
One of the biggest factors that can impact the payout time is the severity of the accident. If the accident was minor and there were no injuries, the claims process may be relatively straightforward and you could receive your payout within a few weeks. However, if the accident was more serious and there were injuries involved, the process could take much longer. This is because the insurance company will need to review medical records and assess the long-term impact of the injuries.
Another factor that can impact the payout time is the type of insurance coverage you have. If you have basic liability coverage, the insurance company will only cover damages to the other party’s vehicle and any injuries they sustained. If you have comprehensive or collision coverage, the insurance company will cover damages to your own vehicle as well. However, if you have uninsured motorist coverage, the insurance company will cover your damages if the other driver was uninsured. The type of coverage you have will impact the amount of your claim and the time it takes to receive your payout.
Documentation is key when it comes to filing a claim. You will need to provide the insurance company with a police report, photos of the accident scene, and any medical records if you were injured. If you don’t provide all of the necessary documentation, the claims process will be delayed. It’s important to keep track of all documentation related to the accident and provide it to the insurance company as soon as possible.
If there is a dispute over who is at fault for the accident, the claims process will be delayed. The insurance company will need to investigate the accident further to determine who is responsible. This could involve reviewing surveillance footage, speaking with witnesses, and consulting with accident reconstruction experts. The more complex the investigation, the longer it will take to resolve the dispute and receive your payout.
In some cases, the insurance company may conduct a thorough investigation into the accident. This could involve hiring outside investigators to review the scene and gather additional evidence. These investigations can take time, especially if the insurance company is trying to determine the extent of damages or the cause of the accident.
Most Cases: 30-60 Days
It can be stressful to watch your medical bills and lost wages mount up during the course of your case. You may have bills mounting up not just from your medical treatment or rental car, but also for your normal expenses due to missed time at work. After sending a demand package to the insurance company, it can feel like a kid waiting for Christmas to receive a response. Insurance regulations and industry practices expect auto insurance carriers to respond to a demand to settle a car accident claim within 30 days. After receiving an initial offer, your car accident attorney and the adjuster will exchange proposals to settle your case. Most cases will reach a settlement within 30-60 days of sending a demand letter.
Prior to settling your case, you may need to pay accident-related expenses out of pocket, with the help of your insurance, or reach an agreement to delay payment until your case settles. Hiring a law firm can assist with obtaining treatment and gathering evidence in your case, such as medical records and police reports. Your accident attorney can help coordinate payment arrangements for treatment and case expenses until your case reaches a resolution through settlement or a lawsuit.
Complicated Cases: Months
Car accident cases involving complex questions or disputes may take longer to resolve. These complicated issue may involve disputed liability, questions about preexisting medical conditions, disputes over the reasonable value or necessity of treatment, permanent impairment, catastrophic injuries, wrongful death, multiple negligent parties, lack of evidence, and extensive noneconomic damages. These cases can require expert reports, additional medical record disclosure, additional crash investigation evidence and other resources to clarify issues in your case before a settlement may be reached.
The most common reason cases do not settle immediately is due to the accident victim requiring ongoing medical care. In most cases it is not a good idea to attempt settlement negotiations until the victim reaches maximum medical improvement. Maximum medical improvement means you completed treatment and your injuries fully resolved or you exhausted all treatment options and your injuries will not improve from additional care. If you attempt to settle before reaching this stage of your medical care, you may settle for less than the full value of your damages. You may even end up paying out of pocket for costly treatment that could have been included in a settlement. However, once you complete treatment and your attorney sends a demand letter to the insurance company, your case may resolve in settlement in 30-60 days if there are no complicated issues left to resolve.
Legal Time Limits to Resolve a Car Accident Case
Even if an insurance company disputes the value of your car accident case or questions liability, a collision injury claim cannot remain open forever. In some states insurance companies must respond to claims or make good faith efforts to settle a third-party claim. Colorado unfortunately is not one of those states. An accident victim can file a complaint with the state insurance regulator if the insurer will not respond to a claim but they cannot force the insurer to respond. If you filed a claim against your own insurance, such as for an underinsured motorist claim, there are laws requiring the carrier to act in good faith towards you. Failure to timely respond to a claim by your insurance may create an insurance bad faith claim in addition to your auto accident claim.
When an insurance company fails to offer a fair settlement for your injury claim, you can elect to file a lawsuit against the liable parties. By filing a lawsuit you set your claim on a path that will result in a resolution. If the insurance company does not present a better offer, the lawsuit will go to trial and a jury will decide the outcome. In Colorado, all personal injury lawsuits must be set for trial within one year. By filing a lawsuit you eliminate the insurance company’s control over timing a resolution to your injury claim. Most lawsuits settle within the first six months. If your case goes to trial, most cases resolve within 30-60 days after trial.
Additionally, you and your attorney must keep in mind legal deadlines to file a lawsuit. For most personal injury claims the statute of limitations in Colorado is two years. For car accident claims you generally have three years. Some injury claims have shorter limitations periods. Your injury lawyer will evaluate your case to determine all relevant deadlines.
Tips for Speeding Up the Process
While the claims process can be lengthy, there are some things you can do to speed up the process:
Gather All Necessary Information
Make sure you provide the insurance company with all necessary documentation as soon as possible. This includes police reports, medical records, and photos of the accident scene. The more information you provide, the easier it will be for the insurance company to process your claim.
Be Persistent but Polite
It’s important to stay on top of the claims process and follow up with the insurance company regularly. However, it’s also important to be polite and professional when speaking with representatives from the company. Being aggressive or rude could actually slow down the process.
Make sure to keep records of all communication with the insurance company. This includes emails, phone calls, and letters. This will help you keep track of what has been said and done during the claims process.
Hire an Attorney
If you are having trouble getting your insurance company to pay out your claim, you may want to consider hiring an attorney. An attorney can help you navigate the claims process and ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve.
In conclusion, there are a number of factors that can impact the time it takes for an insurance company to pay out a car accident claim. The severity of the accident, insurance coverage, documentation, liability disputes, and investigations can all impact the process. However, by following the tips outlined above, you can speed up the process and ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve. One of the best ways to ensure you receive a timely and meaningful resolution to your case is hiring a Denver personal injury attorney to pursue your case.
- What should I do if the insurance company denies my claim? If your claim is denied, you should ask the insurance company for an explanation. If you still disagree with their decision, you may want to consider hiring an attorney.
- How long do I have to file a car accident claim? The time limit for filing a car accident claim varies by state. In most states, you have between one and three years to file a claim.
- Will my insurance rates go up if I file a car accident claim? It’s possible that your insurance rates could go up if you file a car accident claim, especially if you are found to be at fault for the accident.
- Can I negotiate with the insurance company for a higher payout? Yes, you can negotiate with the insurance company for a higher payout. However, it’s important to have documentation to support your claim.
- What should I do if the insurance company takes too long to pay out my claim? If the insurance company is taking too long to pay out your claim, you should follow up with them regularly and consider hiring an attorney if necessary.