How long does a car insurance claim take?

A yellow car in the countryside

Any incident which results in damage to your vehicle and having your car off the road for any amount of time can have financial implications and can quickly turn into a stressful time for everyone involved. 

No one sets out to be in an accident. Unfortunately they do happen though. However, by acting in a timely manner and being upfront with your insurance company hopefully your claim will be settled quickly and with the least amount of disruption to your daily life. 

Factors affecting the timescale of a claim

The most commonly asked question after an incident is “How long will my insurance claim take?” Unfortunately there isn’t one answer to this question. Some claims can be settled quickly whilst others can take a lot longer. It depends on several factors. 

How soon you report the damage to your insurer – 

Most insurers will have their own time limits about how quickly you need to report any damage to your vehicle to them. Most range from a few days to a few weeks. If you are unsure then the rule of thumb is to always try to inform your insurer within 24 hours. In most cases, the sooner really is better. 

What your claim is for – 

There are several different claims you could be making and all of these have different amounts of time that they could take to reach a conclusion. 

  • Personal Injury Claim – The level of time to reach a settlement will vary greatly depending on your injuries and medical assessments that are needed. 
  • Total Loss Claim – When the insurer decides that the car is not repairable, they will “write it off.” Once a settlement fee has been decided on you will normally receive this within 30 days. 
  • Damage to Vehicle – This is usually the quickest type of claim, depending on the extent of the damage and the availability of the garage who will be carrying out the repairs. 

What can slow my claim down?

  • Delays in reporting the incident to your insurer. 
  • Disputes about your level of cover. It is important every year to review your policy and make sure that it is still the best level of cover for you and your circumstances. 
  • Not using an approved garage to carry out the repairs. Your insurer will have a list of approved garages. You should not have the work carried out by anyone else as your insurer could then refuse to pay for the repairs. You should also not have any work carried out before the assessor has been to assess the damage. 
  • Not being able to pay your excess. At the time of taking out your policy you will be advised on what your compulsory excess is and also asked what you would like to set your voluntary excess at. These two payments combined are what you will be asked to pay towards your repairs. Your insurer will cover the rest of the cost. 
  • Missing an appointment with the assessor. Your insurers will appoint an assessor to come and assess the damage to your car, by missing these appointments you will be slowing the whole process down. 

Is there anything I can do to speed up my claim?

  • Keep an open dialogue with your insurer. Even if you do not plan on claiming on your insurance this time, you will still need to inform them about any damage to your car, no matter how minor you believe it to be. Future claims may be dismissed if they later find out that you did not report previous damage to them. 
  • If the situation calls for it, report the incident to the police. For example if your car is stolen you will need to report this to the police, not only so that they can investigate it but also so they can provide you with a crime reference number that your insurance company will require. 
  • Take photos of the damage to your car. You can take these photos on a smartphone and in most cases you can email them to your insurer as part of your claim. 
  • Exchange contact details with all other parties involved. You must obtain their – 
  1. Full name
  2. Address
  3. Telephone number
  4. Registration number
  5. Insurance details

No one sets out to be in an accident. Unfortunately they do happen though. However, by acting in a timely manner and being upfront with your insurance company hopefully your claim will be settled quickly and with the least amount of disruption to your daily life. 

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