Chelsey Tucker graduated with a Bachelor of History degree from Metropolitan State University in 2019. She now writes about insurance with her specialty being life insurance and has been quoted on Help Smart Phone and MEL Magazine.

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Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years. He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like Reviews.com.

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Mar 19, 2020

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Here's what you need to know...

  • Car insurance claims can vary in the time it takes to receive payment
  • Much of this is determined by the policies of each individual company
  • The sooner you file a claim, the sooner you will receive your check
  • Know what to expect regarding repairs once you receive your check

One of the questions often asked by policyholders of auto insurance plans is how long it will take for their car insurance to pay them if they make a claim.

The amount of time it takes to receive a payment for a claim varies greatly based on a number of factors. We’ll share those factors know so that you have the information needed if you ever find yourself in the middle of the claims process.

Looking for cheaper auto insurance? Use our FREE comparison tool above to get started!

The Claims Process

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It may help to have an understanding of the claims process so that you can have a better idea of the estimated time it might take for claims to be paid.

The first stage of the claims process is making the claim. This occurs at the time of the accident and should include the auto accident report, the time and date of the accident, and other pertinent information.

The agent you speak to will ask you specific questions about your claim that may help them determine what steps to take next.

The time of reporting is imperative and should be handled with the utmost expediency. If you wait too long to file a report, the other person involved in the accident may control the narrative.

If they report the accident first, they could claim that it was your fault. If no record of your error exists regarding the accident, they may file the report that way, and you may have to offer proof that you were not at fault later on.

Filing in a quick and efficient manner is ideal so that your agent and insurance company will have all of the information they need to start the paperwork process. The sooner you file a claim, the sooner it can be expedited and filed.

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Steps in Filing a Claim

There are some specific actions you should take when filing a claim following an auto accident. These actions are simple to do, but it is important that they are done correctly to avoid any delays in receiving your funds.

Phoning Your Agent

Immediately following your collision, you should phone your agent and report it to schedule an inspection. An inspection must be done on any auto accident within a reasonable amount of time following the incident.

Speaking with an Adjuster

Within a few days following the accident, your auto insurance agent will send an auto adjuster to your location to make an estimate on what it will cost to fix your automobile to the condition it was in before the accident.

The adjuster may have some additional questions regarding the accident, including when and where it happened, how fast you were going at the time of the accident, and other inquiries.

They ask these questions to get a clear picture of the incident and often combine what you tell them with the information from the police report.

Receiving Your Claim Check

Within a week of the adjuster filing your information with your insurance company, the insurance company will make a final decision on how much they will pay out on your particular accident.

They come to this decision based on a number of factors including:

  • Police reports
  • Your statements about the accident
  • The lowest estimate from at least two collision repair places
  • Current costs for replacement parts on body damage
  • Mechanics’ estimates if the accident involved internal damage

Completing Your Repairs

An auto insurance company usually lets you choose at least two different mechanics and body repair shops which will also provide an estimate on what it will cost them to repair your car.

Then they generally will go with the company that charges the lesser amount of the two and send you a check for that amount.

A Word About Insurance Settlements

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If you do not think the amount you are going to receive will cover the damages, you are entitled to ask for an insurance settlement. This process involves getting the attorneys of both insurers together, along with the insurance adjuster to negotiate a fair amount.

In some cases, it will be enough to mention that you may opt for a settlement to motivate the opposing insurance company to pay for the damages.

In most cases, this process works smoothly, but in cases when it doesn’t, you do have some recourses you can take.

Remember also that you should make sure you do not drive your car around much during the time you are waiting for the claims adjuster to arrive.

If you have any other scratch or scrape or fender-bender to your car (no matter how small), this can convolute the facts and influence the outcome of your claim.

General Time Frames

Now that you know the process of filing a claim, you can estimate how long it will take to receive your payout. However, it is important to note that much of this depends on the policies of your particular auto insurance company and their standards of practice.

Some companies only take three to five days to send an adjuster to your location to take your statement and inspect your vehicle. Others could take up to two weeks.

This is one of the essential qualities of an insurance company that you will want to investigate before purchasing a policy. Ask any company you’re considering how long the claims process typically takes.

They are required to give you a reasonably accurate answer on the time to claim — which should tell you a lot about your specific waiting period.

If your claims process has caused you nothing but grief, maybe it’s time to look around. Use our FREE comparison tool to gather quotes from other providers!