Settling a Claim — How Long Should it Take?
If you've been in a collision, you have a right to expect the insurance company to settle your claim within a reasonable amount of time — and the Texas Insurance Code requires insurance companies to do so. But what constitutes a reasonable amount of time?
This is prescribed by the Texas Insurance Code, and the rule is provided in writing on your insurance policy. Basically, a company has to acknowledge and begin investigating your claim within fifteen business days of receiving your written notice of claim. They must also at that point request additional information needed to settle your claim. If additional information is requested, the company has another 15 business days to tell you if the claim will be paid or denied. The company may also request more time to process your claim — up to 45 additional business days. If the company notifies you they will pay your claim, they must do so within 5 days of notice.
So, legally a company can take upwards of two months to decide to pay your claim — and you may not consider this timely. And if you're filing a claim against another party's policy, the company may not be motivated to process the claim quickly — after all, you're not their customer. If you feel you can't wait for a sluggish company to move on your claim, talk to your insurer — you may be able to get your car repaired on your policy, then allow your company to pursue payment from the other.
Mark Hanna, spokesperson for the Texas Department of Insurance, makes some additional suggestions for getting your claim handled promptly.
"A lot of times you can tell right from the start that things just don't seem right," he says. If your calls aren't being returned or your questions aren't being answered to your satisfaction, start a "paper trail" right away, recommends Hanna. Put your claim in writing, and send it to the insurance company by certified mail. Take notes during all phone calls, get names, write down times and dates. Keep all written correspondence.
He also suggests you ask insurance contacts to give you a time frame — ask when you will hear back, when your car will be appraised, how soon you will receive your check. And Hanna recommends you contact the Texas Department of Insurance if you feel your claim isn't being processed appropriately. They can be reached at 800-252-3439 or through their website at www.tdi.state.tx.us. Complaint resolution specialists there will contact the insurance company — in many cases, that's enough to get your claim handled promptly. If there is still no resolution, the Department of Insurance Legal and Compliance section gets involved — though this may not get your claim settled any faster, at least you'll have the satisfaction of having the matter looked into.
Additional Information: (also check our Resources page, and the FAQ page.)
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