Yes, drivers should trust their insurance company but they should be cautious while navigating the claims process. Although insurance companies are designed to protect people in the event of accidents, they are still businesses with the main goal of staying open and making profit. That being said, your insurance company is not out to get you.
You should always make sure you are getting the best deals from your insurance company and don’t be afraid to switch insurers if your current company is not giving you a great rate.
To find the right car insurance company for you, check out WalletHub’s picks for the best car insurance.
You can fight an insurance company over a totaled car’s value by sending the insurer a counteroffer along with evidence justifying your car’s value. If the insurance company does not raise its offer, you can contact your state’s insurance regulator, seek arbitration, or file a lawsuit.
After receiving a settlement offer from the insurance company:
Gather evidence, including an independent appraisal, the car’s sticker details, prices for comparable vehicles, photos of the car before the accident, and receipts for any features you added.
Send this evidence and a counteroffer to the insurance company.
If the insurance company does not negotiate to your satisfaction, contact your state’s insurance regulator to request help.
Ask your insurance company for third-party arbitration if necessary.
File a lawsuit as a last resort.
Limitations When Fighting an Insurance Company Over a Totaled Car
It’s important to remember that insurance companies are only required to pay a car’s actual cash value (ACV), not the cost of a replacement car or the original price you paid for the vehicle.
Car insurance companies and state laws determine when a car is declared a total loss, so it is unlikely that you will be able to keep your insurer from totaling the car if they deem it necessary. But you can negotiate with your insurance company if you think the amount they propose the car is worth is less than the car's ACV.
It’s in the insurance company’s interest to prevent a dispute from escalating, so sending a counteroffer directly is the best place to start. Otherwise, the cost of filing a lawsuit is usually not worth the potential rewards, but it depends on your situation.
The best way to make the negotiation process move smoothly is to document your property damage and medical expenses as much as possible. The more evidence you have, the better your chances are of having your claim settled. Generally, bodily injury claims are more complicated to settle than property damage claims.
You should also remember that insurance companies don’t always operate with your best interests in mind. So, don’t feel obligated to accept the first settlement offer that they make, especially if you know that you’re entitled to more.
If negotiations are unsuccessful, you can consider hiring an attorney to help you through the process. But if you think the insurer is acting in bad faith, then you should report them to your state’s regulator.
It usually takes 30 days for insurance to pay out after a car accident. Most car insurance companies try to resolve accident claims as quickly as possible, which typically leads to a payout within a month of a claim being filed. However, it might take longer depending on several factors, including the state, the type of claim being filed, and the severity of damage or injuries.… read full answer
Some states have specific laws dictating how long an insurance company has to make a ruling and pay out on a claim. For example, insurers in California have 40 days to accept or deny a claim and 30 days to issue payment once the settlement has been accepted. And in Texas, insurers must decide on a claim within 45 days and make the payment within five days of approval.
Not all states provide exact timeframes, though. In Massachusetts, for example, insurance companies must pay claims where fault is clear within a “prompt and reasonable” period of time.
Factors That Affect the Claim Timeline
State timeframes for insurance claims (some states are stricter than others)
Type of claim being filed (bodily injury takes longer than property damage)
Extent of physical damage or injuries (severe accidents can take a long time to settle)
Communication between drivers, insurance companies, and adjusters (slow communication delays the claim timeline)
Understanding of policy and coverage (you might think your policy covers you in a situation when it really doesn’t)
Ability to pay insurance deductible (your insurance company won’t pay out until you’ve paid your deductible)
In particular, the type of claim being filed and the extent of the physical damage or injuries involved can significantly impact the payout timeline. Bodily injury claims take the longest to settle because multiple parties are involved, including your doctor, the car insurance company, and your health insurance provider.
Injury settlements usually have to wait until the patient has reached the point of maximum medical improvement (MMI). This is when an individual has made a full recovery or has a full assessment of the extent of their injuries and the expected long-term medical costs. If it takes longer than 30 days for the patient to recover, then the settlement could be pushed back.
Conversely, a straightforward property damage claim where fault is clear can be settled in as little as two weeks.
If Your Insurance Company Is Not Cooperating
Even if your state doesn’t have specific laws establishing a claims timeline, you still have the right to be paid quickly and efficiently by the insurance company. If your insurance company is acting in an unethical manner and delaying payment without a clear reason, you can file a “bad faith” lawsuit. In addition to your original settlement amount, you could be paid extra for interest and penalties.
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