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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Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products, including home, life, auto, and commercial, and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, mainly in the insuranc...

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Reviewed by Leslie Kasperowicz
Farmers Insurance CSR 4 Years

UPDATED: Jul 14, 2021

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Here's what you need to know...

  • The auto insurance claims process timeline will vary from one car insurance company to the next.
  • The timeline of an auto insurance claim can also vary, depending upon how large the accident was and other details regarding the accident, such as how many people were involved.
  • Car insurance companies are legally required to pay you within a reasonable amount of time in most states.
  • Taking the appropriate notes immediately following an accident can help the claims process go faster.
  • If you are not satisfied or have concerns with the way your car insurance claim is being handled, or believe the payout is taking too long, you have the right to contact an attorney and your state’s insurance commissioner.

Paying for car insurance is not the most exciting bill to pay, however, it is a necessity. If you are finding that your current premiums for car insurance are too high for your budget, consider using an online premium comparison tool. These tools help you compare quotes from several different car insurance companies to find the right rates and policies for you. In addition to making sure you get a good deal on your policy premium, you may also be wondering how a claim would be handled if you were in a position to make a claim. Start comparing car insurance rates now by using our FREE tool above!

When You Have an Accident

According to Jeanne Salvatori, a spokesperson for the Insurance Information Institute, most people only file a car insurance claim about every eight to 10 years. Since the average person does not have to go through this process frequently, it can be quite confusing, intimidating, and overwhelming.

Immediately after an accident, it is important that you take good notes and keep records. You should make sure to write down:

  • Time and location of the incident
  • Names and license plate numbers of any other involved parties
  • Insurance company and contact information of the other parties involved
  • Contact information of any witnesses
  • Your account of what happened

You can even use your smartphone to take notes and pictures. It is also recommended that you get the names and badge numbers of any law enforcement personnel that responded. The more complicated your claim and accident are the more important these details will become. It is much easier to have them written down and easily accessible than to have to go hunting for them after the fact.

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Filing Your Claim

Once you have ensured that no injuries have occurred, or people with injuries have received medical care, the first thing you need to do is call your insurance company and let them know you were in an accident. You will be asked several details, including the ones you have recorded. Your insurance company will then assign you to an insurance claims adjuster. This person is someone who will coordinate the investigation of your accident, including examining the vehicle damage and determining who was at fault. In addition, your claims adjuster will handle any necessary vehicle repairs and medical treatments.

What is Indemnification?

It is now the insurance companies duty to indemnify you. Indemnification is the process of making you whole. This means that even if the accident was not your fault they take the necessary steps to pay for the medical care that you need and make any necessary repairs or replacements to your property.

After both insurance companies have assessed fault, they will negotiate on their own and determine who needs to be reimbursed for what.

This should not delay the payout of your claim and really should not involve you directly. At this point, your insurance company should already have all of the information that they need from you.

What about Uninsured or Underinsured Motorists?

If you are in an accident with an underinsured or uninsured motorist, your car insurance company will still pay for the accident. This is what makes or having so important. Without these types of coverages, you could be left, albeit unfairly, holding the bill for your accident.

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When Will My Claim be Paid?

Each insurance company has their own individual policies and time frames. The amount of time it can take for an insurance company to process and pay out on your claim can vary from one company to the next. Filing an insurance claim will require hard work, patience, and plenty of diligence from the driver. Depending on how bad your accident or other property damage was, it can take months or even years to receive a full payout and compensation.

If you disagree with your car insurance company about how much they owe you or what your claim is worth, you may even need to retain an attorney to help in the matter.

Once you have filed your car insurance claim your insurance company will make you a settlement offer. You can accept this offer, which will speed up the process, or dispute the amount that they want to give you. Once you have accepted their offer they will cut you a check for that amount, which usually takes between 30 and 45 days or less.

In most states, car insurance companies are required to issue payouts within a specific period of time. These grace periods usually range between 30 and 45 days. In most cases, it is not likely that the insurance company will be legally allowed to stall for more than two months before paying on your claim. If your insurance company stalls for more than 60 days, they may face financial penalties, including interest, which will be payable to you.

Claims Processed and Paid in Different Timeframes

It is also important to note that your claim may be processed and paid in several different pieces. For instance, if you will need to replace car seats, many insurance companies will advise you to purchase new ones right away and will cut you a check on the spot to reimburse you for them. You will be strongly encouraged to get any medical care you need and the insurance company will pay the provider directly, or reimburse you, as long as you have med pay insurance coverage.

What if I Have Concerns or Complaints with my Claim?

If you are unhappy with the way that your auto insurance claim is being handled or believe that your payout is taking too long, you do have recourse. Each state has their own insurance commissioner that oversees insurance companies practicing within your state and make sure that they are complying with the local laws.

You also have the right to contact and hire an attorney to represent you and handle the matter.

Even if I want to claim is not something you are likely to do very frequently, it is still very important to be covered by auto insurance. If you are finding it difficult to afford your auto insurance premium, be sure to look online for an auto insurance premium comparison tool. Using a tool such as this will help you save money while still maintaining the covers that you need. Compare car insurance rates now by entering your zip code in our FREE tool below!