There are two major types of auto insurance claims: first party and third party. A first party claim is a claim to your own insurance. Examples of this include collision for when you strike something and comprehensive, which is basically anything other than a collision. A third party claim is when you make a claim against someone else’s insurance, or they make a claim against your insurance, for injuries or damages.
A first party claim is fairly straightforward. First, you file the claim. Within twenty four to fourty eight hours, an adjuster will call you. Second, the insurance company may send out an apprasier, who is either a company employee or an independent contractor, to write an estimate for your vehicle. Some insurance companies direct you to a body shop to have the shop write the estimate and take pictures of the car. In either case, the estimate will be sent to the insurance adjuster who will then issue you a check less your deductible. The entire process should take seven to ten days.
A third party claim is a bit more complicated. If the claim is for property damage only, then it is handled in a similar fashion to a first party claim. In other words, the appraiser or body shop prepare an estimate and the claim is paid. Again, this should be a week to ten days. However, if the claim is for an injury, this will be a longer process.
Injury claims, also called bodily injury claims or “BI” claims, are not settled until the injured person has recovered from their injuries. Some injuries, like bruises, may heal quickly. Other injuries, such as a herniated disc, may require surgery and may not heal for a year or more. Once the injuries have healed, a demand is sent to the insurance company. The adjuster should review the demand and respond in fifteen days, but complicated demands may take up to three weeks to review.
Insurance claims are the one time you find out how good an insurance company really is. While these guidelines generally apply, if you have a claim that is taking longer, you need to be proactive and make sure the adjuster knows you are educated about the claim process. Read as much as possible so you can be as knowledgeable as possible about the claim process.