How long does it take to process an auto insurance claim?

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Each accident claim is different, making it difficult to estimate an exact processing time. You can, however, get a general idea on how long the processing will take based on whether it’s a simple or difficult auto claim.

Simple Insurance Claims

Any auto accident in which there is no doubt behind the cause or who was at fault, is considered a simple auto claim. Backing into a street lamp, for instance, or driving into a garage door both fall into this category.

Damage for these types of insurance claims is usually minimal – busted headlamp, dented fender, displaced side mirror – and because there are no other parties involved, the auto claim processing period is faster. Often, rather than arranging for time consuming meetings with a claims adjustor from your auto insurance agency, you'll instead be instructed by your insurance company to submit an estimate.

Depending on your car insurance company, your accident claim should be processed within a couple weeks.

Difficult Insurance Claims

Any car accident involving multiple vehicles falls into this category.

There is much more involved than simply submitting an estimate. The claims adjustor must conduct interviews with all involved drivers and passengers, as well as witnesses if, of course, available. In addition, the insurance company must also review the police report and, if applicable, all hospital records detailing injuries. 

Depending on the circumstances behind the accident, and whether or not mediation or arbitration is involved, settlement may take weeks if not months.

Process Insurance Claim by Contacting Your Claims Adjustor

If you have not heard from your claims adjustor in a couple weeks, request an update by phone or e-mail, or even ask your insurance agent to make a call.  Because the agent receives a commission on your policy, he or she will be eager to maintain your account with prompt service.

Don't, however, sound panicky when contacting the adjustor. Desperation may indicate to the car insurance company that you'll accept any settlement, regardless of how small the amount.

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