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How Long to Settle My Auto Insurance Claim in Massachusetts?
While there are no specific time limits in the settlement of auto insurance claims in Massachusetts, most insurance companies try to take care of them as soon as possible. Many auto insurance claims are paid within 30 days. However, some accidents require a more in-depth investigation that can increase the length of time that elapses before the approval of payment. The timing of your settlement check depends on certain factors, like the circumstances of the accident and the severity of injuries and property damage.
Timeline of Auto Insurance Claims
Unfortunately, having an auto insurance policy doesn’t mean that claims will immediately be paid as soon as you submit information. You’ll need to follow a series of steps to ensure the claim is valid and covered under your policy. Even determining the amount of the settlement requires a special process. The timeline of auto insurance claims will depend on how they progress through these basic steps.
Assigning an Adjuster
After taking steps to ensure the safety of everyone involved in the accident and seeking any necessary medical attention, you’ll want to contact your insurance provider to explain the details of the accident. Once you file, an adjuster will review the details of the claim. They will usually contact you within 48 hours to discuss your claim.
Completion of Appraisal
You can take your car to the shop of your choice to get repairs. However, your insurance company will require an official appraisal. It’s important to wait until after the completion of the insurance appraisal to begin repairs.
You Get an Estimate
After inspecting your vehicle and evaluating any medical information, the appraiser supplies an estimate for the required repairs and reimbursement for injuries.
Issuance of Claim Check
Once the estimate is approved, a check will be issued for the agreed-upon amount. Depending on the complexity of the auto insurance claims, it could take as little as one day to several days for the adjuster to review claim details, determine fault, and approve the amount.
Sometimes, during repairs, a mechanic finds additional damages that couldn’t be seen during the initial inspection. You can have these repairs added to the claim in a supplemental request that includes a statement of additional damages.
What Slows Down Payment of Auto Insurance Claims?
Since auto insurance claims are unpredictable, certain factors can delay payments. If your claim is particularly complex, it may take longer to receive approval. These factors can slow down the payment of auto claims.
- Delayed reporting. You can start the process immediately by reporting your claim as soon as possible. Any delays will prolong the approval of your claim.
- Incorrect information. Any incorrect information regarding your policy, personal details, or the details of the accident will require additional investigation from your adjuster, which slows down the approval process.
- Adjuster workloads: Adjusters often handle multiple auto insurance claims at once. Conditions like poor weather that result in more accidents overall can cause backups and delayed approvals.
- Complex accidents: Accidents involving multiple vehicles or several injuries take longer to investigate. Gathering all the information and determining fault will take more time than resolving a simple claim.
- Your vehicle is a total loss. If the repair cost exceeds your vehicle’s value, it’s declared a total loss. These claims require more paperwork, which can take longer to complete.
- Substantial injuries that step outside of the no-fault system. As a no-fault state, injuries are typically covered under your own insurance policy, no matter who caused the accident. However, substantial injuries fall outside of the no-fault system and require a third-party claim that the at-fault driver’s policy will pay. Investigating these claims to assign fault will take longer than a typical claim and may also involve lawsuits.
How to Make the Claims Process Faster
While you can’t control the claims process, there are certain steps you can take after an accident to help the claims process go smoothly. These tips can help make your auto insurance claims process faster.
- Contact law enforcement when the accident occurs. Police officers file a complete report of any accident they investigate. You can use this report to help file your claim.
- Gather as much information as possible. Investigation of your claim requires information about all individuals involved, applicable insurance policies, and the details of the accident. When you can supply abundant information immediately, your adjuster can use it to speed up the investigation process.
- Report your accident to your insurance company as soon as possible. The claims process doesn’t begin until your claim is filed. Any delays can make information harder to obtain and slow down the approval process.
- Keep detailed records. From pictures of the accident scene to mechanical appraisals of your vehicle and medical records, you must carefully record every piece of information about your accident. These details help ensure everything is accurate and included in the claim.
- Be responsive to communications from your insurance company. While you may be unable to answer every call from insurance professionals, returning calls as soon as possible will help keep the approval process on track.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How long after an accident can you file a claim?
If anyone becomes injured in a car accident, they must file a lawsuit or have a claim settled within three years of the date of the crash. However, starting the claims process as soon as reasonably possible is always best.
2. Will my insurance apply to my rental vehicle?
In Massachusetts, if you have an automobile policy on your personal vehicle with collision coverage, your policy will cover collision damage to a rental car, less the deductible on your policy.
3. How much will I receive if my vehicle is a total loss?
Your insurance company will pay the vehicle’s actual cash value just before the accident occurred. You can usually calculate it by subtracting the car’s salvage value (what a salvage yard would pay for your wrecked car) from the car’s fair market value (book value).
4. Will my vehicle be covered if I use it for my job?
A personal insurance policy does not cover personal vehicles used for business practices like pizza delivery, Uber, Lyft, grocery delivery, etc. When you begin employment that requires you to use your personal vehicle, it’s essential to talk to your insurance agent about the correct commercial policy.
5. Should I file a claim if the accident wasn’t my fault?
Massachusetts is a no-fault state, meaning your injuries will usually be covered by your PIP policy. In no-fault states, both drivers file claims for compensation with their own insurance company after a collision.
All drivers in Massachusetts must carry auto insurance. However, the amount of coverage you have will determine what claims your insurance company will approve. Working with an independent insurance agent can help you determine the right auto insurance policy to fit your lifestyle. Contact the experts at LoPriore Insurance to learn more about auto insurance claims in Massachusetts.
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