The duration of an insurance claim can vary significantly depending on the type of claim, circumstances, and insurance company.
In some cases, claims can remain open for a few weeks to several years. While policyholders naturally want claims resolved as quickly as possible, there are a number of factors that influence how long the process takes.
Time Limits for Insurance Claims
There are some general timeframes to expect for common types of insurance claims:
- Auto insurance claims: These are typically settled within 30 days, but can take longer if there are injuries, disputes, or investigations involved. Most states have laws requiring fast payment of undisputed auto claims.
- Record of insurance claims: Details of claims may remain on an insurance company’s records for 3-7 years after being closed. This helps provide context for future underwriting and claims.
- Car insurance claims: Policyholders generally have a filing window of 1-6 years from the accident date to submit a claim, depending on the state. Injuries can sometimes allow longer periods.
Factors Affecting Claim Duration
Many variables affect how quickly or slowly an insurance claim gets resolved:
- Investigation process: Complex claims often require significant investigation to validate facts, determine fault and losses, and prevent fraud. This can add weeks or months to the resolution timeline.
- The severity of damages: Claims with catastrophic losses take longer to inventory damages, source replacement items, and calculate appropriate compensation.
- Legal proceedings: Lawsuits, litigation between insurers, and other legal actions add delays to reaching claim settlements and closure.
- Negotiations: Difficult negotiations between policyholders and insurance companies can prolong the back-and-forth over a claim payout and resolution.
Statute of Limitations and Claim Duration
Each state sets time limits, known as statutes of limitations, on how long policyholders have to file various types of insurance claims:
- Personal injury claims: 1 to 10 years, depending on the type of injury and state. Allows time for medical treatment and establishing losses.
- Property damage claims: Typically 1 to 6 years from the date of loss or damage. Varies by state and policy language.
- Bad faith claims: Lawsuit time limits range from 1 to 6 years when insurers fail to pay properly.
Managing and Expediting the Claim Process
There are steps policyholders can take to help speed up the resolution of an insurance claim:
- Provide all necessary documentation upfront to avoid delays waiting for info.
- Maintain regular communication with the insurance company and claims adjuster.
- Follow up frequently on the status of your claim. Ask about any outstanding items or needs.
- Seek assistance from a claims advocate or attorney if the claim is complex or resolution is delayed. They can often expedite matters.
In summary, insurance claims can remain open from a few weeks to several years depending on the claim type, circumstances, and process factors. While most claims get resolved in months, policyholders have options like legal representation to help expedite matters if there are excessive delays. Understanding statutes of limitation and managing the claims process can also help minimize how long a claim stays open.