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How Long Do Insurance Claims Take?

Apr 9, 2008
No matter what kind of claim you're making, the settlement of your insurance claim could take months, even years. Commercial claims on buildings and vehicles are often complex with reams of red tape. Domestic claims - homeowner's, life, and vehicle insurance - are less complex, but involve the often-unprepared policy holder doing battle with an insurance company that is long skilled with denying claims.

Your first weapon understands how long your claims should take. Small cases, like vehicle damage, should be taken care of right away. More than a business week is too long. Medical cases should also be handled quickly, though they may take a bit longer, up to a month or more if the case is complicated. Life insurance should be settled, also, within a month of filing provided there is no controversy surrounding the death.

Home insurance and business insurance are a little different. First, with your business, if you have business interruption insurance with the same insurer that covers your premises, you may be able get them to move faster as every day they don't pay you is another day they pay on the other policy. Regardless, in both home and business settlement will take a little longer than other policies, particularly if the damage was caused by a natural disaster that caused problems elsewhere as well. If you take pictures of everything yourself, you may be able to speed up this process; if it takes more than a couple of days for the claims adjuster to make it out to your site, you should take those pictures yourself anyway to document how much damage was done.

There are a few things you can do to speed up your claims. The first is to stay on top of it. You should know what stage your claim is in, what has been done and what remains to be done, and approximately how long it is until you can expect to hear a decision. This often entails keeping very good records as well as calling weekly or even daily to check on what's happening. The person to deal directly with is your claims adjuster.

If your adjuster does not give you good results in what you consider to be a timely manner, ask to speak to his or her supervisor. A good supervisor can get your claim expedited.

If your claim is a large one and especially if you're nervous about the possibility of the claim being denied (as in when floods cause large numbers of homes to be damaged and make it more likely for the insurers to deny claims) you might need to hire a loss assessor.

How a Loss Assessor Can Help

A loss assessor is to you the same as the claims adjuster is to the insurance company: an ally who will look at the damage done and try to come up with a fair price to cover the claim. He often has a claims adjustment background, and will be able to deal with the insurance company better than you ever could. Although a loss assessor will cost you money, the increase in your settlement he may be able to get should more than offset his cost to you, and in addition he will be able to protect your future claims with your insurance company. Whenever you have a large claim it is worth looking into a loss assessor for professional and intelligent advice.
About the Author
Derek Rogers is a freelance writer who represents a number of UK businesses. For Insurance Claim Services and Loss Assessor Consultants, he recommends Morgan Clark.
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