How Long Does My Insurance Have to Pay Out My Claim After We've Agreed on a Price?

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

Filing an insurance claim involves plenty of diligence and hard work. Unfortunately, the process also requires a tremendous amount of patience. Depending upon the severity of the damage to the covered piece of property, it might take as long as two years for you to receive a payout from your insurance company. If you disagree with your insurance company's offer and wish to file a formal dispute, your case could languish in court for even longer than this. Although there are several steps that you can take to speed up your claims process, you might have to retain an attorney to help move things along.

Most of these steps must take place before you formally accept your insurance company's settlement offer. Once you've accepted the offer, the claims process will terminate. At this point, you'll simply need to wait to receive the settlement check or deposit from your insurance company. If you believe that your insurance company is intentionally delaying this payout, you may have legal recourse.

In fact, most states require insurance companies to issue payouts within a pre-defined period of time. In most jurisdictions, these grace periods range between 30 and 45 days. It's unlikely that your insurance company will be permitted to stall for more than 60 days before issuing your payout. If it does, it may be subject to significant financial penalties. In addition, your delayed payout will accrue interest at prevailing rates until its disbursement. Depending upon the duration of your insurer's delinquency, this additional interest might provide you with a significant financial bonus.

If your insurance company doesn't pay out on your claim within the required period, you're entitled to take legal action against it. This should be a straightforward matter: You'll simply need to retain a lawyer and explain your case to a tort-law judge. Once the judge has issued a ruling, your insurer will be required to pay out on your claim within 30 days.

It's important to note that the legally-mandated payout periods apply principally to homeowner's and auto insurance providers. In most states, life insurance payouts are governed by different regulations. If you elect to receive a life insurance payout as a lump sum, your provider may be entitled to wait up to 90 days before issuing it. If you elect to receive an annuity payment, your insurer may not be required to make its first payout until the agreed-upon payment date. These practical restrictions might result in payout delays of up to a year.

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