How long does a car insurance claim take? (6 Ways to Speed It Up)

How long does a car insurance claim take? Between 30 and 45 days is the normal timeline for auto insurance claims. Knowing your coverage and cooperating with the investigation can speed things up.

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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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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®

UPDATED: Sep 15, 2020

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Car Insurance Claim Overview
Car Insurance Claim SummaryDetailsFrom the Experts...
Number of Car Accidents10 million each yearForbes
Average Car Insurance Claim AmountIn 2018, the average car insurance liability claim for property damage was $3,841Quadrant Data
How to File a ClaimCall the insurance company, use a mobile app, collect evidence, cooperate with insurance adjusterInsurance Information Institute
Average Statute of Limitations for Filing Claims2.7 years for personal injury claims and 3.3 years for property damage claimsQuadrant Data
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Do you need to file an insurance claim? If so, understanding the process can help reduce some of the stress and uncertainty.

When an accident happens, the most important thing is getting your car back on the road as soon as possible. There are a number of different factors in the car insurance claims process that can affect how long it takes to be settled. So, exactly how long does a car insurance claim take?

To answer that question, we’re going to break down the process for you and explain how you might help your claim get resolved faster.

To make sure you’re fully covered for any claim you might need to file, use our free tool to compare car insurance rates right now.

Filing an Insurance Claim

If you’ve never filed an insurance claim before, it might seem a little intimidating. While things can occasionally get complicated, most of the time the claims process is straightforward and shouldn’t add more chaos to your already stressful situation.

Forbes estimates that there are 10 million car accidents each year. Given this, it’s a good idea for all drivers to understand exactly how to file a claim and how the process works.

Time is one of the first things that people who file insurance claims really want to know about.

How long does an auto insurance claim take? How long should a car insurance claim take? How long does a car insurance claim take to pay out? Some states give insurers up to 45 days to pay out a claim while others do not impose a time restraint. While most insurance claims are settled and paid out within 30 days, understanding the process will give you a better idea of the timeline of an insurance claim.

Here are some statistics about car accidents and insurance claims that reinforce the importance of understanding insurance claims:

  • Around 2 million drivers in car accidents experience permanent injuries every year
  • In 2016, there were 6,296,000 police-reported motor vehicle traffic crashes in the U.S.
  • In 2010, the economic cost of motor vehicle crashes to the United States totaled $242 billion
  • In 2018 the average auto liability claim for property damage was $3,841

Now let’s look at why claims can take time to process.

It Takes a Team to Process a Car Insurance Claim

To understand how long a claim might take, we need to look at the process. How long does a car insurance claim take to go through that process? We’ll cover that next.

Take a look at the video below from Allstate to get a brief introduction to filing a car insurance claim.

Your first step in filing an insurance claim is calling your insurance company or using their mobile app to report the incident. Make sure you have your policy number handy, along with any documentation you have related to the incident.

Once you file a claim, an adjuster will usually be assigned within 72 hours. What is an insurance claim adjuster? This is person will be your point of contact for your claim. You need to be available to answer questions so that the claims adjuster can do their job. It’s important to note that auto claim adjusters can get between 50 to 100 claims a month to process, so you will be one of many.

How long does it take for a car insurance adjuster to give you a damage estimate?

They will get in touch with you within three days, but if they need to assess damages, it can be a few more days to get an estimate. Should you decide to use an auto garage approved by your insurance company, the process can be accelerated.

This brief video from Geico will help you understand the role of the claims adjuster.

Once the claim is approved, the body shop will work with the adjuster to complete the repairs to your vehicle.

So how long does it take to repair a car after an accident? The length of time it takes for your vehicle to be repaired depends on the amount of damage it received. As long as all of this goes smoothly, the process should move along. It will depend on good communication between you, the insurance adjuster, and the body shop.

How long does it take to get a settlement check after signing a release? Average time for car accident settlement checks varies.

If you are getting the repairs done yourself, the average time it takes to receive a settlement check is around five to six weeks.

Different insurance companies vary slightly in their processes and procedures. How long does it take to get an insurance claim check from State Farm? How long does it take Allstate to pay a claim? It might be very different from Travelers insurance. Within 45 days is the general standard amount of time, but it can vary depending on the circumstances of the claim and the company.

There are some things that can delay the process and hold up your vehicle repairs. Keep reading to learn more.

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When Claims Are Delayed

Ideally, everything will go as it’s supposed to, your claim will be processed and approved, and you’ll be back on the road in no time. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.

Since there are so many people and moving parts involved in the process of auto insurance claims processing, sometimes your claim will hit a snag. While this can be frustrating, it will be easier if you understand what might cause a claim to get held up. How long does a car insurance claim take to process if there’s a delay? It depends on the reason.

Common Factors That Delay a Claim

Poor communication can be a major roadblock to getting your car back on the road. The communication between you and your adjuster has to be a two-way street. Avoiding phone calls and emails is guaranteed to delay the entire process.

It’s a great idea to verify your mailing address, email address, home phone, and cell phone number with your insurer. Open lines of communication are essential to a smooth claim-filing process.

Misunderstandings can also slow the process.

Coverage discrepancies missed appointments, and confused messaging can extend the claims process. Double-check all documentation, and if you have questions, ask them.

Dissatisfaction will certainly put the brakes on completing the claim. Sometimes drivers are not happy with the appraiser’s report or the repairs to the car. This will slow the process in order to give the appraiser, insurance company, or body shop time to respond to complaints.

An excessive amount of claims at one time will also create delays.

Did a storm just come through the area? Is everyone dealing with the aftermath of a flood? Situations such as natural disaster claims often take longer, especially if the insurance company and body shops are overwhelmed and backed up.

Finally, your deductible may stand in the way of a speedy claim. Car insurance deductibles have to be paid at the time of repair, as this is your part of the shared cost with the insurance company. If the funds aren’t readily available, the repair may have to wait.

Lots of problems can occur during the claims process. If major problems arise, talk with your insurance agent. Agents often don’t deal directly with a claim, but they are a great resource if you have questions or concerns.

What if it’s taking too long?

How long can a car insurance claim stay open and what can you do about it? At times there will be delays in the claims process no matter what you do. After you file a claim, it’s best to have a backup plan just in case of extended delays. Should you encounter a delay and your car insurance repair is taking too long, your biggest issue will likely be that you don’t have a car to drive. If you find yourself in this position, there are two things that you can consider.

The first thing you could do is get a rental car. This may not be an ideal situation, as it could cost additional money. Many insurance policies cover the cost of a rental car after an accident. You will need to check the terms of your policy to find out if this applies to you.

The second thing to consider doing is borrowing a friend or family member’s car if possible. Particularly if your insurance policy doesn’t cover a rental car, this will be the most cost-effective option.

If you do borrow someone’s car, their insurance coverage would be automatically extended to you, but remember that their deductibles will apply if you damage the vehicle.

When you file a claim for damage to your vehicle, it’s only natural to hope that the claim will go through quickly. It’s always good to have another plan in place, though, just in case it takes longer than you expect.

How long does a car insurance claim take to settle?

How long does it take to settle a car accident? As discussed, the answer to this question depends on a number of factors, but ultimately, it comes down to how clear-cut the claim is. It can typically take up to 30 days to settle an insurance claim without any issues. How long does a car insurance claim take to close entirely? That can be even longer if it’s complex.

The simplest claims are those that involve only property damage that is straightforward and easy to value. If the facts of the accident are clear, and all parties are in agreement, the claim will have a better chance of moving along quickly.

If a claim involves medical damages and personal injury, it can take up to several months or more to settle.

The most complex cases have taken years to settle, and some extreme cases may never settle. That being said, the majority of claims are usually resolved within a reasonable amount of time.

It may also depend on your location. Different states have different rules for how long it can take to settle and pay a claim. Some states have requisite time periods and others do not.

How long does it take for an insurance company to pay out a claim in Texas, for instance? Texas law says an insurer must acknowledge the claim within 15 days of receiving it and must send out a check within 10 days of settling the claim. How long does an insurance company have to pay a claim in other states? Check your state laws to see if there are any time constraints on claim settlements.

The key to settling your claim is being patient and working with all parties involved. This will be your best bet for settling matters as quickly as possible.

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Can you speed up the process?

As mentioned, the claims process can take varying amounts of time depending on several factors. But how you handle your end of the claim will impact how fast or slow the process will be.

There are several factors that will be out of your control, but the amount of time that a claim takes will largely depend on how well you and the adjuster work together.

Reporting Your Accident

The first thing you can do to set yourself up for success is to report the incident immediately after it happens. You may not be able to report your claim from the scene of the accident, but you will need to call and file the claim as soon as possible.

How long do you have to make a car insurance claim? Your policy probably states that it is your duty as a customer to notify your insurer of a potential claim in a reasonable amount of time. Your state also has a statute of limitations, as listed by Nolo, on filing claims that you’ll have to abide by. Take a look at the table below to see how long you have in your state.

Statute of Limitations for Car Insurance Claims by State
StatesPersonal Injury ClaimsProperty Damage Claims
Alabama2 years2 years
Alaska2 years6 years
Arizona2 years 2 years
Arkansas3 years 3 years
California2 years3 years
Colorado3 years3 years
Connecticut2 years3 years
Delaware2 years2 years
Florida4 years4 years
Georgia2 years4 years
Hawaii2 years2 years
Idaho2 years3 years
Illinois2-3 years5 years
Indiana2 years2 years
Iowa2 years5 years
Kansas1 year2 years
Kentucky1 year2 years
Louisiana1 year1 year
Maine6 years6 years
Maryland3 years3 years
Massachusetts3 years3 years
Michigan3 years3 years
Minnesota2 years6 years
Mississippi3 years3 years
Missouri5 years5 years
Montana3 years 2 years
Nebraska4 years4 years
Nevada2 years3 years
New Hampshire3 years3 years
New Jersey2 years6 years
New Mexico3 years4 years
New York3 years3 years
North Carolina3 years3 years
North Dakota6 years6 years
Ohio2 years2 years
Oklahoma2 years2 years
Oregon2 years6 years
Pennsylvania2 years2 years
Rhode Island3 years10 years
South Carolina3 years3 years
South Dakota3 years6 years
Tennessee1 year3 years
Texas2 years2 years
Utah4 years3 years
Vermont3 years3 years
Virginia2 years5 years
Washington3 years3 years
Washington D.C.3 years3 years
West Virginia2 years2 years
Wisconsin3 years3 years
Wyoming4 years4 years
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So, how long after a car accident can you claim on insurance? You do have some time, but you should not wait. It will typically take about 72 hours for an adjuster to take over the case. The sooner you file the report, the better.

Know What Kind of Claim You Are Filing

How long does a typical insurance claim take? The type of claim also impacts how long the process will take. How long does an insurance claim take for the most common types of claims? Let’s take a look.

Many insurance companies make towing claims easy to file. Some policies will cover a roadside assistance claim without requiring you to pay anything out of pocket. Review your policy details to see if you have this coverage.

The video below outlines the benefits of having roadside assistance.

A physical damage claim on your vehicle could be a little more complex. After the adjuster contacts you, as discussed, the process can vary depending on the circumstances.

Glass claims are usually handled quickly. You can typically get scheduled for repair with a glass company the same day or within the week. If you require specific glass, it can take a little longer.

This short video will give you some insight into filing a glass claim.

How long does a car accident insurance claim take if it’s a total loss? A total loss claim can pose some difficulties. A lot of paperwork and some negotiating on how much insurance will pay on a totaled car is involved. They can take 30 days or more to finalize.

How long does it take to get an insurance check for a totaled car? As long as the process is smooth, you can expect a check for your total loss claim around 30 to 40 days after you file. Again, this is barring any complications.

How long does a car insurance injury claim take? Medical claims usually take the longest to process.

The hospital and doctor’s office should coordinate with your car insurance claims adjuster. As injuries may need to be treated longterm, these claims can get complicated and take some time. How long do health insurance claims take if they’re involved? That depends on your provider.

How long does a car theft insurance claim take? That can depend on whether or not the car has been recovered and the circumstances of the theft.

Investigating Your Accident

The second thing you can do to speed up the process is to provide the requested documents, photos, and forms as soon as possible. Oftentimes, your claims adjuster will require additional information. They may ask for photos of the scene, a police report, medical bills, signed forms, or other documents before they can proceed with their investigation.

To be proactive, it’s best if you can document your accident immediately after it happens, taking pictures if possible.

After an accident, you may not think about taking photos at the scene, but it’s more important than you may think.

A lawyer will tell you that having car accident photos to document the damage and injuries can mean the difference between a successful and unsuccessful insurance claim.

Providing the relevant information is very important when you’re trying to move the claim along as quickly as possible. When you give your agent the information they need, you can reduce the amount of time a claim takes to process. You will also need to be available to answer questions during the Investigation.

After reviewing the coverage on your policy, the adjuster will start the investigation process.

The investigation will include gathering evidence, assessing the damage, interviewing witnesses and others involved, and possibly inspection of other cars involved. The adjusters of each party involved will communicate back and forth and contact their own insureds when they need answers to questions that come up.

How long does an insurance company have to investigate a claim? While there are some limits on how long it can take, you can make it faster. Being as cooperative as possible and responding as soon as you can will greatly aid the process and make sure that it stays on track to being completed in a timely manner.

How long can an insurance company investigate a claim if there’s fraud involved? This differs, and the insurance company will likely hand off the claim to a fraud bureau.

Repairing the Damage

In most cases, during the investigation, someone will be determined to have been at fault for the accident. At this time, the company who insures the at-fault party will have an appraiser assess the damage and estimate how much the repairs will cost.

You may be satisfied with the appraisal or you may want to appeal it. After two appraisals, you have the right to have a third-party do a separate investigation. If the results are dramatically different, the amount paid out for the claim will be averaged.

This process takes just days if you are happy with the initial estimation, but can take a week or more if you have to arrange your own estimates or appraisals.

Some companies will pay for repairs that are done at an affiliate shop. Others will issue a check for the cost of repairs, towing, and other covered expenses. If you’re arranging repairs with the company, you can choose a direct repair facility and the adjuster will oversee the entire process. The claims check will be written to the repair facility and you may receive the difference for rental car expenses that you already covered.

How long this takes depends upon the severity of the damage and how involved you are in the appraisal and repair process.

Settle the Claim

If you’re not going to get your car repaired immediately, you’ll need to sit down with your insurer or the at-fault party’s insurer.

Should I accept the first offer from an insurance company? It’s not out of the norm for a low offer to be sent the first time. If you’re happy with the first settlement offer after the car accident you can sign for it and it will be settled. If you’re not, the negotiations will begin and you may be able to drive the value up.

Watch the video below for advice on how to negotiate with your claims adjuster.

The goal of the adjuster is to settle the claim for the lowest amount, but you can get more for your car if you’re willing to spend time negotiating. The drawback to that, however, is that it will slow the process down slightly.

Physical damage claims take a lot less time than a liability claim with an injury. Injury claims could take a significant amount of time to close.

Versus car insurance claims, how long does it take to settle homeowners and health insurance claims? In general insurance claim timeframes are mostly universal. It takes between 30 and 45 days to process car, homeowners, and health insurance claims.

What if your claim is denied?

When your insurance claim is denied, it can be frustrating, but the insurance company has to give you a reason for the denial. If you have a car insurance claim that you feel was unfairly denied, there are several steps you can take to appeal the decision.

The first thing you need to do is to contact your insurance company. A majority of insurance companies have a process in place to appeal denied claims. This process will vary based on your insurance company’s policies. This is your first line of defense, however.

Should your appeal fail, you have the right to contact the insurance commission in your state.

Most states have different resources to protect consumers. If you still feel that you have not been helped adequately, you could seek the advice of an experienced insurance attorney.

Most common reasons for insurance claim denial

If your car insurance claim is denied, large sums of money could be at stake. To ensure that your claim is processed and approved, make sure that you comply with all of the policies of your insurance company. There are a few reasons why auto insurance claims are denied, however.

Fraudulent claims are a major reason for denial. Hiding the truth from your adjuster could not only lead to a claim denial, but it could also have legal consequences. The Insurance Information Institute says that fraudulent car insurance claims account for between 15 percent and 17 percent of total claims.

A disputed liability claim could be another reason for claim denial. The insurance company could argue that their policyholder was not at fault for the accident. This will require a longer investigation and could lead to a denial.

Situations that are excluded by the policy will result in claim denial. For instance, if an excluded driver gets into an accident while driving your car, they are not covered. If this is the case, the claim will be denied and the driver and policyholder could be held personally liable for all damages. There will be a list of several exclusions included in your policy.

If the premiums on your policy had not been paid at the time of the accident, the policy likely lapsed and the insurance company will deny the claim.

Policyholders are required to notify insurance companies of accidents in a reasonable amount of time. If that didn’t happen, the insurance company could say that it didn’t have an opportunity to investigate the accident and deny the claim.

Finally, another reason for claim denial could be insufficient coverage. Before you file your claim, make sure that you know what your policy limits are and what your policy will pay for. The insurance company will not pay for something not covered or not afforded by your policy.

Based on your state, you probably have the minimum required liability insurance. But, your insurance company will not fix your car after you hit a deer if you don’t have comprehensive coverage. A detailed list of your limits and specific coverages can be found on your policy’s declarations page.

There is not a specific answer to how long a claim will take to go through, but understanding the process and what is expected of you will help to alleviate some of the stress. If you’re not happy with your insurer after filing a claim, it might be time to start shopping for a new provider.

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Frequently Asked Questions: How long does a car insurance claim take?

#1 – How long does it take for homeowners insurance to pay a claim vs car insurance?

How do insurance companies pay out claims for home policies and is it different from car insurance claims? Homeowners insurance is a different type of policy, and claims can be very complex. Some of the same factors may apply.

#2 – How long does it take to get an insurance check from a car accident?

How long does it take to receive an offer of compensation and how long does an insurance claim check take to arrive? That depends on how complex the claim is and whether or not you dispute the settlement amount. You could be cashing an auto insurance claim check in a matter of weeks. So what happens if you don’t accept a settlement? You will have to appeal, and your claim will take longer.

#3 – How long does a car insurance claim take to settle in the UK?

How long does an accident claim take in another country? If you’re a U.S. driver involved in an accident overseas things could be complicated. It will depend on what kind of insurance you had at the time and what sort of damage was done.

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