How long does an insurance adjuster have to respond? If you sustain a personal injury in an incident such as a car accident that you did not cause, your attorney may claim damages from the guilty party’s liability insurance company on your behalf.
The time it takes to settle things like an auto insurance claim varies from case to case. Ideally, insurance companies would respond quickly and pay all valid claims immediately. Unfortunately, insurance companies rarely operate that way.
Below we explain the claim process, how long does an insurance adjuster have to respond, the steps you and your lawyer can take to speed it up, and what to do if an insurance company or your claims adjuster doesn’t respond to your letter of formal notice right away.
Send A Letter Of Application To The Claims Adjusters
The process of seeking payment of the debtor’s insurance policy usually begins when your injury attorney files a letter of formal notice on your behalf. (This is what makes this claim process different from your own insurance company’s claim process, which usually starts with submitting a claim directly to your insurer through their website.)
Letters of formal notice serve to notify insurance companies of a potential claim for damages against a person, company, or organization to whom the company has a liability insurance policy.
In the event of a car accident, the letters usually provide the car insurance company with important information about a claim, such as:
- What happened to cause an injury?
- Why did the company’s policyholder default and has to pay the damage
- A description of the client’s injuries.
- An estimate of the financial loss suffered by the client as a result of the event, such as medical bills and lost wages.
- An assessment of the client’s non-economic damage, such as pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and reduced quality of life.
Lawyers can send the letter of formal notice directly to the company, the guilty party, the guilty party’s attorney, or a combination of these parties.
When can you expect a response to a demand letter and how long does it take for an insurance company to respond?
Some people can wait a long time for an insurance company’s response to their first dunning letter after being injured in an accident.
Upon receipt of a reminder letter, an insurance company will assign an expert to handle it. The job of an in-house adjuster is to review claims and decide whether they should be paid by the insurer rather than an insurance agent who sells and maintains insurance policies.
In general, under the terms of the insurance policy and/or state law, the adjuster must complete an initial assessment and submit a response within a reasonable time, usually on the order of 30 days.
This is the point in the process where, if things work as they should, the insurance company recognizes the legal responsibility of its policyholders and pays the claim immediately.
Unfortunately, as we said before, this is often not how things work.
You see, insurance companies and the adjusters who work for them have strong incentives not to pay the full value of a liability claim and not to do so quickly.
First, because you are not their customer, so they have little reason to make things easy for you. Second, insurance companies make money by holding it, not paying it out. The less they can pay you and the longer they can keep you waiting, the more money they make.
Therefore, instead of paying a claim quickly and in full, liability insurance claims adjusters often delay.
They can do this by simply responding at the last minute, requesting additional information (which they often don’t even need), or making partial or lowball settlement offers.
These tactics have a common dual purpose: to delay payment for as long as possible and to try to ‘disappear’ the claim for as little money as possible.
How to speed up response time?
You and your attorney cannot force an insurance company to respond to a demand letter, but you can take some steps to speed up response time. For instance:
Using experience in cases like yours, your attorney can ensure that all relevant information is included with a petition to reduce the chances of the carrier being delayed in requesting more details about your claim.
The letter may request a response within a specified time, after which your attorney will take legal action against the culprit.
Your lawyer can contact the claims adjuster by phone or email to start a dialogue about the claim.
If applicable, your attorney can file a personal injury lawsuit against the policyholder or, in the case of a car accident, against the driver who made the mistake to show the insurance company that you mean business.
What can you do to speed up the insurance claims process?
While these deadlines provide some protection against insurance companies indefinitely delaying accident victims’ claims, as you can see, the process can still take a significant amount of time. With this in mind, what can you do to speed up your insurance claim? Here are some tips from our New York accident attorneys:
- Submit your claim immediately. After being involved in an accident, you should immediately claim with your insurance company. This will keep the clock ticking and ensure that your insurance company has every opportunity to gather the evidence needed to decide liability.
- Respond directly to your insurance expert. While it may take weeks to hear from your insurance expert, respond to messages from your expert immediately.
- Take care of your vehicle repairs and your medical needs. By repairing your vehicle and complying with your medical care, you can avoid being accused by your insurance expert of delaying the settlement of your claim.
- Trace. If you don’t hear from your insurance expert, don’t hesitate to get in touch. While you certainly don’t have to make sure your claims adjuster does their job, being diligent can help move the process forward.
- Get help with your insurance claim. Hiring a lawyer not only shows that you are serious about getting the coverage you deserve, but it also allows you to rely on the knowledge and advice of your lawyer. Your attorney can handle your claims adjuster for you, and your attorney can determine when delays cross the line of bad faith insurance.
How Long Does An Insurance Adjuster Have To Respond?
Insurance experts assess car wrecks at the scene of a car accident.
Sometimes the claims adjuster will want to meet with you in person to assess your claim, your injuries and the damage suffered.
When submitting a demand letter, you must be contacted by phone within 1-3 days to schedule an appointment 2 days later.
Ideally, the expert will consult with your lawyer while setting up this conversation. Sometimes, however, the claims adjuster will try to bypass your lawyer and call you directly. Do not start a conversation with an insurance expert if you can avoid it. Try to make sure that all conversations, even the simplest about scheduling a meeting, go through your attorney.
Why insist on keeping your lawyer between you and the adjuster?
Because insurance experts are trained in interview techniques designed to get claimants to say anything that could undermine the value of a claim. Even in a simple planning call, an expert may try to ask a few questions that are meant to get you out of your legal and financial rights.
Insisting on your injury lawyer dealing with the adjuster as much as possible minimizes your risk of falling for these tactics.
If a time comes when you need to meet with the adjuster in person, your lawyer can also prepare you and, if necessary, attend the meeting with you to steer you away from danger.
What to Do if Your Insurance Adjuster Isn’t Responding?
A well-dressed man sits patiently with his hands folded together. Some people may wait for a long time for a resolution to a liability insurance claim without the help of an attorney.
Sometimes, your attorney sends the demand letter and the adjuster simply does not respond.
In that circumstance, you and your attorney are in the dark. There could be a simple explanation for the lack of a response, such as that the adjuster is backed up with work or went on vacation, or the demand letter got lost in the shuffle at the insurance company. Or, your claim could require extra work and time to process, because of the severity of your injuries or damages.
Finally, the delay could reflect an insurance company’s tactic to draw the process out, hoping you might give up or get impatient enough to take a lowball settlement offer.
So, you need to find out what’s what. However, as above, that’s not something you should handle if you can avoid it because it could put your rights at risk.
Instead, let your attorney handle an insurance adjuster by:
- Following up with phone calls;
- Sending an email;
- Going to the insurance company’s website to “chat” with a representative, if applicable; or
- Contacting the adjuster’s supervisor (contact information for the supervisor can usually be found on the company’s web page along with the adjuster’s information).
Try to stay patient and confident in this part of the process. The insurer must respond at some point, or face potential legal complications. Your attorney can guide you through this process and identify if the adjuster may be negotiating in bad faith.
How Long Does it Take to Receive a Settlement?
Ultimately, the goal of making a demand to a liability insurance company is to convince the company to pay a claim, without having to take the claim to a trial. The agreement between the injured person and the at-fault party (represented by a defense lawyer and the insurance company) is called a settlement.
In the typical settlement, the injured party (you) gets money from the at-fault party’s insurer, in exchange for releasing the at-fault party (and that party’s insurance carrier) from any future liability relating to the claim.
It can take as little as 7-8 days, and up to more than 30 days, to settle cases that only involve property damage once negotiations between your injury lawyer and the adjuster begin.
In personal injury claims, the length of time it takes to receive a settlement may be longer as the scope of your injuries and the full cost of your medical expenses is being determined.