Once an insurance company has accepted a claim, meaning a settlement has been reached between the insurance company and the claimant, the insurance company is required by law to provide final payment within 30 days. Louisiana Revised Statute § 22:1892 Section A specifies that insurers must pay both insured and third-party claimants “within 30 days after receipt of satisfactory proofs of loss from the insured or any party in interest” or “within thirty days after written agreement of settlement of the claim from any third-party claimant,” whichever applies.
While the law mandates that insurance companies must pay accepted claims of all types—including motor vehicle accident and personal injury claims—within 30 days, it does not specify how long insurers have to accept claims. In fact, there is no law in Louisiana covering the length of time insurance companies have to accept (or deny) claims. Generally speaking, however, insurance providers must accept or deny claims within a “reasonable amount of time” in order to comply with good faith practices.
What Is a “Reasonable Amount of Time” for an Insurance Company to Settle a Claim?
As previously mentioned, there is no set amount of time by which insurance companies must settle car accident claims. The law only specifies how long insurers have to pay claims once they have been accepted; it does not set a deadline for insurers to accept or deny claims. Instead, insurers are required to settle claims within a “reasonable amount of time.”
But what exactly does this mean? What is considered a “reasonable amount of time” for an insurance company to settle a car accident claim?
The answer depends on the specific details of the situation. Generally speaking, more complex claims involving numerous variables and elements will take longer to settle, as the insurance company will likely need more time to conduct an investigation and evaluate all of the applicable factors. Relatively simple claims, on the other hand, typically settle much faster. To that end, it can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months to even a year or longer to settle a claim.
Some of the many factors that can affect how long it takes the insurance company to either accept or deny your claim include:
- The severity of your injuries
- The extent of your losses/damages
- The complexity of the accident
- The number of at-fault parties
- Whether fault is shared and to what degree
- Communication between you and the insurance adjuster
- The availability of various documents and evidence
- Disputes regarding fault, coverage, etc.
- Whether witnesses provide conflicting testimony
Keep in mind that, just as the insurance company is required to resolve your claim “promptly,” you are also typically obliged to report the accident and file your claim within a reasonable amount of time, as well. If you fail to do so, the insurance company may be far more likely to dispute or even deny your claim.
What Is “Insurance Bad Faith?”
An insurance policy is essentially a contract between two parties: the insurer and the insured. As such, both parties must uphold their responsibilities under said contract. The insured must pay premiums on time and abide by all other duties outlined by the insurance policy. In return, the insurer must honor the guarantees afforded to the insured in the insurance policy. This means properly investigating claims and either accepting or denying those claims within a reasonable amount of time.
When insurance companies fail to uphold their end of the deal, they are acting in “bad faith.”
Some examples of insurance bad faith include:
- Failing to promptly and properly investigate claims
- Unreasonably delaying an investigation or decision on a claim
- Failing to pay an accepted claim within 30 days or another applicable deadline
- Undervaluing claims or disputing coverage afforded under a policy
- Purposefully misrepresenting an insurance policy to a claimant
- Failing to timely pay a claim after receipt of satisfactory proof of loss
If you believe the auto insurance company has acted in bad faith, you may be able to take legal action. It is possible to sue an insurance company for bad faith practices; we strongly encourage you to reach out to an experienced attorney, as these are highly complex and challenging cases.
What to Do If the Insurance Company Is Delaying Your Auto Accident Claim
If you are having issues with an auto insurance company—whether it’s your own or the other party’s insurance provider—it is a good idea to get in touch with an attorney right away. If you believe that the insurance company has wrongfully or unreasonably delayed or denied your car accident claim, we invite you to contact our New Orleans personal injury lawyers at The Womac Law Firm to learn how we can help.
With more than 35 years of experience and millions of dollars recovered on behalf of those severely injured in serious car accidents throughout Louisiana, The Womac Law Firm has the resources and skills to effectively advocate for you. We are well-equipped to go up against major insurance carriers and their defense teams. We understand the law and are prepared to protect your rights when it comes to fighting for the fair compensation you are owed, as well as ensuring you receive your payments within the specified timeframe.
You do not have to deal with the insurance company on your own; contact The Womac Law Firm today to request a free consultation with one of our New Orleans car accident attorneys.