How long does a car insurance claim take?

Most insurance claims resolve after a few weeks, though there are ways to speed up the process. Making sure there's plenty of communication, and documentation of the incident, can help speed things along.

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A former insurance producer, Laura understands that education is key when it comes to buying insurance. She has happily dedicated many hours to helping her clients understand how the insurance marketplace works so they can find the best car, home, and life insurance products for their needs.

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Written by Laura Berry
Former Insurance Agent Laura Berry

Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He has an MBA from the University of South Florida. Jo...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder & CFP® Joel Ohman

UPDATED: Jun 13, 2022

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Here's What You Need to Know

  • The car insurance claims process has several steps and involves many people
  • The average car insurance claim resolves after 30 to 45 days, though complications in the process will lengthen the time
  • You can help shorten the process by openly communicating, gathering information, and telling the truth

Nobody likes getting into an accident, and filing a car insurance claim can worsen it. Waiting months on your claim is a profoundly frustrating experience for any driver, especially if their car is in the shop waiting.

Luckily, there are things you can do to resolve your claim as quickly as possible. From gathering the right information to keeping communication open, there’s no reason your claim needs to take weeks to resolve.

So, how long does an insurance claim take? It depends on the policy and type of accident, but most claims get settled within a few weeks. Read on to learn more about the claims process and how to speed it up.

How long does a car insurance claim take?

Knowing how long a car insurance claim will take to resolve can be tricky. The claims process consists of several steps and a team of people — it’s not as simple as submitting a claim and getting payment.

To understand how long it takes to file a car insurance claim, you should first understand the process. The steps in the claims process are:

  • Contact an insurance representative. After an incident, you should alert your company. Have relevant information ready, like who was involved, a description of the accident, and insurance information for other drivers.
  • File a police report. Insurance companies request police report numbers for claims after an accident. You can file a report after contacting your insurer and providing the number later.
  • Work with an adjuster. Companies assign adjusters to verify your claim and inspect the damage to your car. Your adjuster will probably have questions for you — try to stick to the facts.
  • Get the adjuster’s report. The adjuster’s final decision will include an initial estimate for the repair costs. Your insurance company will use this estimate to determine how much to pay you.
  • Accept a payment. Once the adjuster authorizes the final price, you’ll receive a release to sign saying you accept the claim resolution.

These steps require a lot of communication between several people. Any confusion or difficulty communicating can result in delays, lengthening the time your car sits unrepaired.

Generally speaking, a car insurance claim resolves in 30 to 45 days, though some companies get them done in a week. However, if you and your insurance company don’t communicate well, the process could take much longer.

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How can you speed up the claims process?

Speeding up an insurance claim is vital, especially if your car needs repairs before it can drive again. Unfortunately, it can feel like car insurance companies drag their feet to resolve your claim.

Below are six tips to quickly resolve your claims process.

Understand Your Policy

Before anything happens, you should understand your car insurance policy. While there are many add-ons you can buy to increase your coverage, here are the standard insurance options most companies offer:

  • Liability – Liability helps pay for damage you cause to people and property. This insurance covers you if another driver needs to file a claim after you hit them.
  • Comprehensive – Comprehensive car insurance covers damage caused outside of an accident, including fire, theft, vandalism, animal contact, and weather.
  • Collision – No matter who is at fault, collision insurance helps repair your car after an accident.
  • Uninsured/underinsured motorist –Most states require drivers to carry a minimum amount of insurance, but not all drivers follow the law. This insurance protects you against drivers with inadequate coverage.
  • Personal injury protection – Personal injury protection will help pay for your medical bills, physical therapy, and even lost wages if you get injured in an accident.

If you try to make a claim, but you don’t have the coverage for it, your insurance company will deny it. While liability is usually the only coverage states require, it’s never a bad idea to have more to keep your car protected.

You should also understand how the claims process works for your company. Most major insurance brands accept claims through their website or mobile apps, but you might have to make a phone call.

Contact Your Insurance Immediately

The best time to contact your insurance is immediately after an incident. Not only will your memory be fresh, but a representative can also guide you better.

The sooner you contact your company, the faster the claims process can start. However, you shouldn’t feel like you can’t file a claim if time has passed. The length of time you have to file a claim varies by state, but the average period is about two years.

Gather Information

The more information you have for your insurance company, the faster everything will be resolved. Try to gather the following information after an incident:

  • Other drivers’ names, license plate numbers, and insurance information
  • Make and model of cars involved
  • Time and location of the incident
  • Witness names and phone numbers
  • All relevant information about the accident, such as who was driving and what happened

Of course, you should avoid speculation when giving your insurance company information — guessing why something happened can slow the process down.

Take Photos

Your claims process will be much smoother if you can provide photographic evidence of your car’s damage.

A claims adjuster will want to see your photos after an incident to determine what happened and if your car has any new damage.

When you take photos, try to get close and distant shots of your car and any other car involved in the accident.

Keep Communication Open

Quickly answering phone calls or emails from your company is in your best interest since ignoring them lengthens the claims process.

An insurance representative might have questions about information you didn’t think to give them, or they may need you to clarify part of your statement. Whatever they call you for, pick up the phone.

Be Honest

No matter what, you should never lie to your insurance company. Aside from the fact that it’s insurance fraud, it also lengthens the claims process.

If your insurance has conflicting stories from you and the other driver, it must sort everything out and determine the truth. Exaggerating or downplaying the facts of the accident can add weeks to the claims process.

Although it’s tempting to tweak a story, you should resist the urge. If your company finds out you lied to them, it might deny your claim and drop you as a client.

Which companies have the fastest claims process?

Although you can do things to speed up the claims process, one of the best ways to ensure your claim gets resolved is to pick a company with high claims satisfaction.

Below are some of the top-rated providers to understand which insurance companies handle their claims with consistent speediness.

  • State Farm
  • USAA
  • Allstate
  • GEICO
  • Auto-Owners

While these companies have high ratings for their claims process, the speed at which your claim gets resolved is more affected by other factors than the company. Though companies have reputations for being slow or hesitant to pay a claim, most want to resolve a claim as fast as possible.

Find Insurance With Fast Claims Today

If your insurance company lets you down with a drawn-out claims process, you can always switch to a new company to avoid future problems. In fact, switching to a new company can save you money and improve your service.

If you’re interested in exploring your options, you should compare rates with as many car insurance companies as possible. Along with the price listed on your quote, you should also pay attention to customer satisfaction ratings.

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