How Long Does It Take To Settle a Car Accident Claim


A car accident can happen in seconds. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for an accident claim. Even a simple claim for a fender bender can turn into a lengthy and frustrating process. So, what are the factors affecting a car accident case timeline? The answer depends on your case. 

Every accident claim is unique, and this can affect the timeline your case goes by. Oh, and something else you should know: there isn’t a precise timeline to follow, but there are some things you can do to help move the process along.

Factors That Can Affect a Car Accident Case Timeline

Okay, so what does it mean when you learn there isn’t an exact timeline for settling a car accident claim? This means you can’t create a precise calendar complete with dates and times. You can schedule meetings with the at-fault party’s insurance company. 

There’s a good chance you’ll have plenty of meetings. This is when you try to negotiate a settlement offer with the insurance adjuster. However, you can’t start scheduling any meetings until the insurance company responds to your claim.

How long does it take for an insurance company to issue a response? Well, unfortunately, there isn’t really a set timeline. Insurance companies can move at their own pace as long as it’s not taking them months. 

Some states, like New York, have laws in place to help move insurance companies along. In New York, an insurance company must respond to an accident claim within 15 business days. The timeline for insurance companies is shortened to five business days if you’re filing an accident claim with your policy. For example, an uninsured motorist claim.

Just because you receive a response doesn’t necessarily mean your settlement check is in the mail. The initial response is simply the insurance company letting you know they’re reviewing your accident claim. Here’s a look at some of the factors that can affect the timeline of your auto accident claim.

No-Fault Insurance

Like a few other states, New York follows no-fault insurance rules. You file an accident claim with your insurance provider, regardless of who’s at fault for the accident. Also known as personal injury protection (PIP), your insurance covers medical expenses, property damage costs, and lost wages up to the policy’s cap. The amount your insurance covers depends on your policy.

Your insurance provider can take several business days to respond to your accident claim. Remember, the first response is just to let you know they’re reviewing your claim. The insurance provider can take up to 30 business days to decide whether to approve or deny your claim.

Chances are, even when your accident claim is approved, you’re still left with outstanding expenses. After settling with your insurance provider, you can file a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver to recover the remaining damages. This is the second insurance claim and the same 15 business day timeline still applies. 

Yes, you’re starting back at the beginning of the claim process if you’re seeking compensation from another driver.

Extent of Your Injuries

Even though your PIP insurance has caps, you still don’t want to start negotiations until you know the extent of your damages. This applies even if you’re pretty sure your insurance isn’t going to cover everything.

If your injuries are limited to some cuts and bruises, you can probably start listing your damages after your medical appointment. Chances are, you’re not going to need long-term care for some minor bumps and scrapes. 

However, car accidents can cause severe injuries that may require long-term or a lifetime of care. These injuries take time to properly diagnose, and your medical team will also need to create a customized care plan—this is a process you don’t want to rush.

Unfortunately, even though you’re being proactive about your health, your expenses are still piling up. You may also go through multiple negotiations with the insurance company if your injuries are severe and this can further delay the settlement process.

Level of Cooperation From the Insurance Company

Some insurance companies pride themselves on quickly settling a claim; they may even send an insurance adjuster to your hospital room in hopes of reaching an agreeable settlement. You can choose to accept the insurance company’s initial offer, which will significantly shorten your case timeline down to days instead of weeks or months.

Before you decide to accept or refuse an insurance offer, take a minute to calculate your damages. Is the offer enough to cover your expenses, including any additional medical care? 

Remember, once you accept an insurance offer your case is considered closed, which means that you can’t file another claim for damages for the same accident. Any expenses you incur after accepting the settlement are your responsibility.

Since most initial settlement offers are relatively low, there’s a good chance you’ll refuse to accept the proposed payout. Yes, this will extend the timeline of your case, but it’s better than being left with ongoing expenses.

Another tactic insurance companies can use to delay settling your case is to deny your initial claim. Now, you need to file an appeal and this takes time. You’ll also need to gather evidence to support your accident claim, and expert testimony may also be required. 

If your accident claim is denied by the insurance company, it’s a good idea to let an attorney handle the appeals process. Your appeal will probably end up in civil court, and it’s usually best to have legal representation to assist with your case.

Other Common Delays in a Car Accident Claim

Some other factors that can drag out the claim process are if you’re seeking a large settlement or have discrepancies in your paperwork. Maybe you listed the wrong date or forgot to include supporting evidence—any mistake made can drag out a car accident case.

Speeding Up a Car Accident Case

While you can’t force the insurance adjuster to process your claim faster, you can speed up the overall process by working with an accident attorney. 

Your attorney can ensure your paperwork is complete and handle negotiations with the insurance adjuster, keeping things moving along smoothly. With professional assistance, you can avoid unnecessary delays and focus on your recovery.

About Author

LaDonna Dennis

LaDonna Dennis is the founder and creator of Mom Blog Society. She wears many hats. She is a Homemaker*Blogger*Crafter*Reader*Pinner*Friend*Animal Lover* Former writer of Frost Illustrated and, Cancer...SURVIVOR! LaDonna is happily married to the love of her life, the mother of 3 grown children and "Grams" to 3 grandchildren. She adores animals and has four furbabies: Makia ( a German Shepherd, whose mission in life is to be her attached to her hip) and Hachie, (an OCD Alaskan Malamute, and Akia (An Alaskan Malamute) who is just sweet as can be. And Sassy, a four-month-old German Shepherd who has quickly stolen her heart and become the most precious fur baby of all times. Aside from the humans in her life, LaDonna's fur babies are her world.

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23 days ago

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6 days ago
Reply to  RichardKous

The time it takes to settle a car accident claim can vary depending on the details of the case. Having good insurance coverage, like United Concordia, can help streamline the process. Some claims are resolved in a few months, while others can take longer, especially if there are disputes. It’s important to stay in touch with your insurance company and provide all necessary documentation. Patience and persistence are key during this time.