How Long Does It Take an Insurance Company to Respond to a Demand Letter?

Written by James Hirby | Fact checked by The Law Dictionary staff |  

If you've recently been involved in a serious accident for which you weren't deemed to be at fault, you've probably retained the services of a lawyer who can sort through the messy legal issues that surround the incident. During the immediate aftermath of the accident, you probably exchanged correspondences with both your own insurance company and your counter-party's provider. If the accident caused significant harm to your property or person, you may be under the impression that your counter-party's insurance company is responsible for paying the cost of your medical and repair expenses. After all, you shouldn't held liable for a situation that you didn't create.

Unfortunately, most insurance companies won't agree to make significant payouts without putting up a fight. The claims adjuster sent out by your counter-party's insurance company may assert that the accident was caused by a combination of factors and can't be directly blamed on any single person. He or she may present an impressive raft of evidence in an attempt to prove that you were partially at fault for the carnage.

Once your counter-party's insurance company has denied your claim, you'll need to send a demand letter to its home office. Although you're probably capable of using an easily-available online template to craft a well-reasoned demand letter without the assistance of a lawyer, your position will be strengthened by the presence of a qualified legal representative at your side. Your lawyer can answer any questions that you might have about the process of settling a claim with a recalcitrant insurance company. To ensure that such a settlement is reached in a timely fashion, he or she can also apply the proper amount of pressure to the insurer's claims department.

In most states, insurance companies are permitted to wait up to 45 days before responding to a demand letter. If you haven't received a response within this time frame, it's likely that the insurer has chosen not to accept your offer. In order to protect the rights of insurance companies, most states allow demand letters to "expire" after the specified time limit.

Should this occur, you'll need to send a revised demand letter that makes concessions to the insurer's position. Alternatively, you might wish to instruct your lawyer to prepare for legal action against the insurer. Based on his or her previous experience with claims disputes, your lawyer will advise you on the appropriateness of each course of action.

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