How Long Does an Insurance Claim Take?

Man Calling In a Car Insurance Claim
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Filing a car insurance claim can be an unnerving task. It can make you especially uneasy if it is your first claim and you do not know what to expect. A functioning car is a necessity for most of us to live out our daily lives. Whether your car is repaired quickly plays a large role in whether you are satisfied with your insurance carrier. So, how long should a car insurance claim take?

It Takes a Team

Insurance claims are not dependent on just one person.

You need to be available to answer questions. The claims adjusters need to do their job. Plus, the body shop needs to be available to work with both you and the claims adjuster. There is a whole team of people that needs to work together to get the job done. If one of the players is not cooperating, the whole process can get delayed. Without proper teamwork, a claim can really get dragged out.

What Kind of Claim Are You Filing?

  • Roadside Assistance Claim: Many insurance carriers make towing claims extremely easy to file and get reimbursed. Some will take care of the claim without having you pay anything out of pocket. If you do need to be reimbursed, it will probably take 5 to 8 business days to get a check in the mail once you turn in your receipt.
  • Glass Claim: Glass claims can also be handled quickly. Once the claim is filed you can probably get scheduled for repair with a glass company the same day or within the week. If you require OEM glass, it can take a little longer for the glass company to order and receive the glass. The actual insurance claim filing should be taken care of very quickly.
  • Physical Damage: The time it takes to repair other physical damages to your vehicle depends on the complexity of the claim filed. It is standard to receive your first contact with the insurance adjuster within one to three days of filing the claim. If an adjuster needs to look at the damage, it can take a couple more days. Using an insurance carrier approved body shop can speed up the process.​ Expect a cut and dry physical damage claim to take one to two weeks to get finalized. This includes coordinating with a body shop and getting scheduled for repair. If your car is drivable, you can drive it until the date of repair.
  • Total Loss Claim: Agreeing on a pay out amount can be difficult sometimes. A lot of paperwork is involved in a total loss claim. Getting the proper signatures in all the right places can also take time. It would not be shocking to see a total loss claim take 30 days to finalize.

  • Medical Claim: Injury claims usually take the longest to process. Once you fill out the initial paperwork it should be out of your hands. The hospital and doctor office should coordinate directly with your car insurance personal injury claim adjuster.

Common Ways to Delay a Claim

  • Poor Communication: Both the claim adjuster and the claimant need to be available. Not answering the phone is a sure-fire way to delay a claim. It is a great idea to verify all of your contact information at the time of filing a claim. Double check your address and phone number on file.
  • Not Happy With Your Coverage: Thought you had OEM coverage but your policy says you do not? Coverage discrepancies can certainly extend the claim process.
  • Not Happy with the Body Shop Repair: Don't like the paint job on your repair? Does something seem not right? Rushing through to get your car back is not a good idea. If you are not happy with your repair, it is best to point it out immediately to get it resolved.
  • Natural Disaster Claim: Did a huge hail storm just come through the area? Is everyone dealing with the aftermath of a flood? Natural disaster claims often take longer because not only is the insurance company going to be backed up but so are the body shops.
  • Short on Cash: You really can't get your car insurance claim handled quickly when you do not have the cash for the deductible. Deductibles need to be paid at the time of repair. Plan on holding off on the repairs if you do not have the cash to get it done.

Lots of problems can occur during the claims process. If major problems arise, talk with your insurance agent.

Agents often do not deal directly with a claim, but they are a great resource if there is a problem. An agent can contact your claim representative or even the body shop on your behalf to help ensure the process goes as smooth as possible.

What to Do if It Is Taking Too Long

Sometimes, no matter what you do, the claim takes longer than you would like. The best thing you can do is have a backup plan. 

  • Get a Rental Car: It may not be ideal, but sometimes you have to get a rental car so you can get to work and pick up the kids from school. Make sure you select the proper coverage to protect the rental car while you are driving it.
  • Borrow a Car: The most cost effective option is to borrow a friend or family member's car. Coverage would be automatically extended to you; however, remember their deductibles will apply if you damage the vehicle. Paying for the deductible would be the right thing to do if a loss occurs while you are borrowing it.

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