Thursday, June 26, 2014

How long is this claim going to take?

Consumers who call our hotline often ask us how long insurance companies can take to settle their claims. Waiting for a decision on an insurance claim can be frustrating when you are trying to get on with your life.

Insurers have 30 days from the time they receive a claim to complete their investigation and make a coverage decision, unless it is unreasonable to get it done in that timeframe. Depending on the circumstances, some claims may require more time. Insurers are required to perform reasonable investigations of claims, which often includes activities like scheduling interviews with other parties, obtaining police or engineering reports and site inspections that can extend the investigation time beyond 30 days.

If you are dealing with your own insurance company, your policy may require you to provide statements of the circumstances of the loss, fill out proof-of-loss forms, obtain estimates or supply police reports or medical information. You can speed the process by keeping records, including purchase receipts, maintaining an inventory of your possessions, staying in contact with your adjuster, and being available to assist the adjuster if they need your input.

Finalizing a claim, including the paperwork and arranging for payments, commonly takes longer than 30 days. Complicated claims can take months to resolve. Whether you are dealing with your own insurer or someone else’s insurer, we recommend that you take an active part in the process, ask questions and provide requested information to help process your claim.

If you feel you have been treated unfairly or have questions about insurance in Washington state, contact our consumer advocates online or at 1-800-562-6900.