Justia Lawyer Rating
AV Preeminent
Million Dollar Advocates Forum
Avvo Rating
Law Firm 500 Honoree
Lawyers of Distinction
Arizona Association for Justice
Legal Leaders
Top 40 Lawyer Under 40

How Long Can An Insurance Company Investigate A Car Accident Claim?

This article was reviewed by Freddy Saavedra for accuracy. Visit Freddy Saavedra's LinkedIn Profile

Accidents in personal injury law can have many different factors that affect the time it takes to investigate an insurance claim. The accident claim process is a complicated game where the rules are constantly changing, but you should know about how much time an average insurance claim takes. A car is vital to most of our lives, and we know you need to get back to your regular life as soon as possible after an accident.

The speed of your insurance claim often depends on three main things.

1. The Type of Insurance Claim You’re Filing

If you’re filing a standard insurance damage claim in a simple collision or fender-bender, for example, you may be done in just a few days. Things like roadside assistance or towing fees are even sometimes paid for by the insurance company directly, without you needing to claim for it.

If the car is totaled, however, you may need far more time and negotiations between you and the insurance company adjusters to investigate how much the car is worth. The insurance company adjuster may deny your claim, or try to negotiate you down to a lower value.

Even lengthier are medical claims. Since you may not know the extent of your injuries at the time of filing, you may end up in a claim that takes several weeks to several months. There are things you can do to mitigate the length of this process, of course, so it’s best to consult with your car accident lawyer as you move forward. It’s crucial that you contact both your attorney and your insurance company within 24 – 48 hours of the accident.

2. Your Insurance Company

Different states have different rules for how long insurance companies can take to respond to your insurance claim. Generally, the insurance adjuster must move the claim forward by responding to you about a month after your initial request (and subsequent communication). While your car insurance company adjuster does want to get your claim off their desk as soon as possible, they also don’t want to pay any more than they need to.

Therefore, the car insurance company adjuster may stall investigating or try to prolong your case, so you get exasperated. If this is the case, and you feel frustrated, remember that an injury lawyer can help get the ball rolling. If you already have one, talk to them and see what they can do to move the claim along.

3. Whether Or Not You Decide to Settle

You and your lawyer will likely have a lengthy discussion at your initial consultation about your desired outcome for your claim. In some cases, a quick check for the amount to fix the windshield will be sufficient. Of course, in more tragic cases resulting in lifelong injury or wrongful death, you may be unable to reach a settlement that satisfies both you and your claims adjuster or their parent insurance company.

In this case, you and your personal injury lawyer may decide to go to trial. A trial will draw out the length of your claim significantly, so be prepared for your case to take a long time. However, a trial can have its benefits, of course. Successful trial-won payouts are sometimes higher than a regular insurance claim payout since you can file for punitive damages and mental pain and suffering from the accident as well.

How Long Does An Insurance Company Have To Complete A Claim?

Again, the length of time car insurance companies can take is affected by a multitude of factors. Technically, every state is different, but the average time between your initial request and the reply from your insurance adjuster can vary from just a few days to nearly three months. In this type of law, no two car accidents are the same, so every claim is settled on a case-by-case basis.

Most states hover around 40 days, though your personal injury lawyer will have more detailed information about your state in particular. This means the car insurance company has 40 days to review your statement and investigate evidence like police reports, medical bills, eyewitness accounts, photographs of the accident, and anything else the claims adjuster believes to be relevant.

After that time is up, the car insurance company must either accept or deny your claim. Should they accept, they will then offer a settlement, or compensation amount they will say should be sufficient.

We almost always advise not taking the first offer, as it’s likely to be a lowball offer to close your case without losing the insurance company too much money. This, then, begins a back-and-forth with your insurance company and the insurance adjuster that can either quickly be agreed upon or stretched out for some time. Some complicated claims with high potential payouts can take years to resolve.

It’s unfortunate, but often there’s very little you can do to speed up a slow insurance adjuster except to reply as promptly and honestly as possible. Sending frequent reminders is often very little help since it can make you come off as too desperate and eager to settle your case.

You should always speak with your legal counsel first if you feel like it’s taking too long. Never try to consult with the insurance company directly, if at all possible.

Why Would An Insurance Company Investigate A Claim?

If you’re asking for over a certain amount, the insurance company may investigate your claim. Insurance fraud is more common than you think, and the last thing they want to do is get scammed. Certain types of claims require more investigation than others. Know that it has nothing to do with the viability of your claim if you hear, “under investigation.” Instead, it means they’re paying attention.

For example, claims with complicated medical bills will often require further investigation. Your claims adjuster will want to know where you got your treatment. Was it from the most expensive doctor possible, or a reasonable physician? What are the actual injuries your doctor said were from the accident, and did you get any frivolous or unnecessary treatments? Can any of the treatments you’re claiming be from an unrelated injury?

Complicated accidents may also take time to unravel. If many cars are involved, the insurance company may need several months to speak to the other drivers and investigate them as well, to find who was at fault in multi-car pileups. A representative from the insurance company may need to take a look at your vehicle as well or speak to the body shop repairing the damage.

As part of their investigation, insurance companies may call you to try and record a statement with you over the phone. We advise against doing this without an attorney present, as this part of the investigation can get messy, and insurance companies may ask leading questions in hopes you give them information to reduce or invalidate your claim. They’ll also want to corroborate your story with the police report filed and any other information they’ve received.

Can You Take Back An Insurance Claim?

Sometimes, you gear yourself up to take on the insurance adjuster, consult with your attorney, begin the process, then decide it’s not for you. This happens most commonly with smaller claims for damage to your car. If your deductible is $400, and the repairs are $380, then filing an insurance claim doesn’t make much sense and can actually hurt you in the long run.

Since filing claims is what increases your premiums and not the actual accidents, some people try to take back their insurance claims after the fact. While you cannot retract your claim if you are considered the party at fault in an accident, or if the insurance company has already made a payment on a claim, you can rescind your claim in almost any other scenario.

However, it’s important to know that while the claim may not be there anymore, there’s still a record of the claim you filed. Knowing this may worry you, but it’s important to know that this record rarely actually changes anything, as the payout will show up as zilch on your driving record.

Of course, it is entirely within the insurance company’s power to increase your rates anyway after you rescind your claim. They can decide that simply getting in the accident, and filing was enough of a risk to hike up your premiums.

Even if you’ve already received a check in the mail but have yet to deposit it, you still can retract your claim. It may take a few phone calls, but most insurance companies will gladly take back the money and void the check. It’s important to note that you cannot do this once you’ve deposited the check into your bank account, as that’s considered completing a payment.

Overall, car insurance claims are a complicated form of law with many pitfalls you must avoid. You need a personal injury lawyer that specializes in these forms of litigation and claims adjusting, with extensive experience fighting for the little person in car and truck accidents.

With attorney Freddy Saavedra, you know you’re getting the quality and experience you need to keep you safe through this process. But we at Saavedra Law Firm, also believe that quality legal advice should be available to everyone—that's why we offer free consultation services 24/7. These services are available in English and Spanish, and should you decide to file a claim, there are no legal fees unless you win your case or receive a settlement.

Attorney Saavedra has a long history of getting clients the payouts they deserve from insurance companies and will work for you to give you compassionate counsel with aggressive representation. We are proud to serve our community and encourage you to call us today.

Filing an insurance claim can be an intimidating process. Still, our free consultation and guarantee of no fees unless you win will help to ensure that you get the best service and the payout you deserve without having to navigate this world all on your own. If you or a loved one is experiencing difficulty after a car accident, call Saavedra Law Firm today at (602) 753-8917.

Client Reviews
★★★★★
Mr. Saavedra was incredible in handling our case. He communicated updates to us in a timely manner and we were always informed as to the status of our case. He did a great job of working with opposing counsel to get us a great result. We will definitely recommend him to friends and family. Daisy Montano
★★★★★
Beyond grateful to Freddy Saavedra for his attention and compassion with my father's case. He went above and beyond to help. I definitely recommend him if you're looking for an honest, straight forward and compassionate lawyer. Angelica Davidson