It’s never easy living in the aftermath of an incident in which you’ve been injured or your property has been damaged or stolen.
You’re left in what can only be described as an earthly limbo, and not a minute goes by that you don’t think about how you’ll cope if your insurance provider refuses liability and fails to payout.
Well, to settle your nerves, let’s discuss some of the time frames insurance adjusters work in.
What Exactly is an Insurance Adjuster?
Let’s begin with a brief explanation of what an insurance adjuster does. An insurance adjuster is essentially the investigator that your insurance agency sends out when you make a claim.
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They will talk to you and other people involved; assess damages, injury, and circumstance; and compose a report, the conclusion of which will be if you’re entitled to a payout, and if so, how much.
How Long Before an Insurance Adjuster Makes First Contact?
Once you’ve filed a claim with your insurance company, the silence that follows can be incredibly nerve-racking, even if you’re well within your rights to make said claim.
If no one gets back to you right away, it can feel as though your request has been denied or ignored, but hang in there, it just takes a little bit of time to filter through the system.
You should expect first contact from the insurance adjuster anywhere up to three days after the claim has been posted. Sometimes, if there are significant damages involved, they may even do a preliminary inspection before contacting you just to get a working understanding of the situation.
If that is the case, you may need to be a little more patient as it could slow down their reply by a few days.
How Long Does an Insurance Adjuster Have to Respond?
When you and the insurance adjuster are acquainted and they’ve asked you all the questions they need to for the time being, they will continue their investigation and likely won’t contact you until they reach their conclusion and write their report.
Once the investigation has officially begun, unless the adjuster wishes to talk to you about any more details regarding the incident, you might not hear from them for a while. How long precisely this duration lasts depends on a few variables.
Sometimes the deadline will be defined by state law, so make sure you check in with local authorities to see if they can shed any light on your situation.
In the absence of state legislation, it’s common that the insurance agency will set the deadline to offer you some peace of mind. Do note, though, that if you have different policies with the same company, each policy may have different deadlines.
You can typically expect an insurance adjuster to complete an initial report and get back in touch with you after 30 days. If the waiting period exceeds 30 days, it might be a good idea to make a polite inquiry with the insurance company.
How Long do You Have After an Accident Before a Claim Would be Invalid?
The expiration of a possible compensation claim depends on the type of incident you’ve endured and your area’s local laws so make sure to read the guidelines in your insurance policy and check in with the authorities so you don’t miss a deadline.
For car accidents that weren’t your fault and caused an injury, the deadline to file your claim is normally between two to three years after the accident.
In some more complicated cases, if you didn’t know an injury was caused by the collision, then find out after the fact, you have three years from that point to file a claim. The deadline for claiming damages due to a car accident can be as long as four years after the event.
For a personal injury claim that doesn’t involve automobiles, the limit may also be three years.
If your home has been invaded and you’ve been the victim of theft, most insurance companies require you to file your claim within 30 days of the incident, and if any of the stolen goods are recovered by law enforcement, you’re required to report it to the insurance agency.
Damages to Home
In the event of any damages to your home that are covered by your insurance policy, the typical time frame to make a claim will be one year.
What to Do
The truth is a lot of the time there isn’t a set deadline to file a claim. An insurance company may not specify at all or state something vague such as all claims must be made before a reasonable amount of time has elapsed.
The best thing you can do in any case is to study your insurance agency’s policies in regards to your situation and contact local authorities to learn the state laws and guidelines. If you do this, then file your claim immediately, you’ll get the help you need as soon as possible.
Should You Make a Claim?
Before you file a claim, you need to think carefully about whether it’s the right thing to do. In many situations, you may not be eligible for a payout, and in the event of, say, light vehicle damage, it may actually be beneficial to pay for repairs out of your own pocket to prevent premiums from rising. Let’s discuss when filing a claim is a reasonable course of action.
There is one overarching rule for making a claim: if an accident wasn’t your fault, make a claim, especially if you or your family has been injured. Even if it’s unclear who exactly is at fault, you are absolutely eligible to make a claim.
Best Course of Action
If you do qualify, there are certain things you can do to help the process along.
- Ensure a police report is written and get a copy after it has been processed. Police reports can be filed with a court and your insurance agency and back up your account of the event.
- Never admit guilt. Self-reflection is a fantastic exercise, but in many cases, especially if other parties involved are particularly aggressive, a victim may unjustly begin to believe they share the blame. Do not fall prey to your own good nature. Stick to the facts.
- Gather your own evidence. Don’t wait around for police officers or insurance agencies to investigate. If you’re able, take photos of the scene, of damage, and of injuries. If the worst has happened and you are injured, see a doctor ASAP and have them write you official medical documentation about the causes and severity of said injuries.
- Learning your deadline is a must, but even if you have an extensive period before your right to claim expires, don’t put it off.
What Might Slow Down the Insurance Adjuster
Things such as poor communication between the parties involved will inevitably drag the whole process out.
Another thing that puts a spanner in the works is if you can’t afford to cover the deductible for any damage repairs. In that case, it’s best to inform your insurance provider about the damage but to push back repairs to a later date.
The last and worst problem you may encounter is that the guilty parties are denying culpability and blaming you, in which case, let the evidence do the talking.
Waiting for an insurance adjuster’s deliberation is never easy.
We all know that their companies make money by not paying out, but as long as you have a strong case, present it well, and have read your policy fine print, justice will be on your side.