How Long Does An Insurance Claim Take?

Updated November, 2020
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There are many people involved, including yourself, in the claims process that determines how long it takes to process. You, the claims adjuster, and the auto repair shop all need to work cohesively in order for the process to go smoothly.

Steps to take before filing a claim

Filing a claim is a difficult thing to do, especially if you've never filed one before. Here are the steps to making the process a whole lot smoother:

1. Gather evidence. Take pictures of the accident scene, including your car and the other involved. Exchange information such as car insurance policies.

2. File a police report. This is so that the most accurate account of what happened is on file and the blame won't get pinned solely on you.

3. Don't admit fault. The police and insurance company decide who's responsible.

4. Know the deadline. Different states have different time limits to file a claim after an accident, so make sure you know yours before it's too late.

Know the different types of claims

To speed up the process, it helps to know which type of claim you are filing. Here are the most common:

  • Glass claim. These are typically handled fairly quickly. Once the claim is filed, you may schedule repairs in less than a week, often the same day.
  • Roadside assistance claim. Many car insurance companies allow you to make a towing claim without having to pay anything out-of-pocket.
  • Total Loss Claim. A lot of paperwork is involved in a total loss claim. Many signatures across many different people makes this type of claim sometimes take over a month.
  • Medical claim. Medical claims take the longest to process, because hospitals and doctor's offices have to deal directly with insurance claims adjusters.

Factors that can delay a claim

You want your claim to get processed quickly, but that's not always the case. Here are the top reasons why claims sometime take longer to process:

  • Poor communication. Depending on which type of claim you file, many people are involved. If just one person is hard to reach, your claim gets dragged out.
  • Misunderstandings about coverage. Coverage discrepancies extend the claims process.
  • Dissatisfaction with the repair. Rushing a repair to get your car back isn't a good idea. If you aren't happy with your repair, it's best to point it out immediately to get it resolved.
  • Short on cash. You can't get your car insurance claim handled quickly when you don't have the cash to cover the deductible. Deductibles need to be paid at the time of repair. Plan on holding off on the repairs if you don't have the cash to cover your deductible.

What to do if your claim is taking too long

If your claim is taking way too long and you need a car to get on with your daily life and responsibilities, you have two options:

  1. Rent a car. Although not ideal as you have to pay for this for the duration you don't have your car, it does help you to get back to your daily routine. Check with your insurance policy to see if you have rental insurance coverage as you can get reimbursed for the amount you pay for your rental car.
  2. Borrow a car. The best option is to ask a family member or friend to lend you their car while your claim is going through. Their car insurance policy typically extends coverage to you while you're driving their vehicle.

Bottom line? Choose a reliable insurance company that has a smooth claims process.

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