If your car was totaled in a collision, then you’re probably anxious about the claim settlement process. Although motorists are required to carry collision or comprehensive insurance coverage in case they’re involved in a serious accident involving bodily harm or property damage, most don’t know what to expect from the settlement process. Insurance coverage will help you pay for medical bills or repairs to your vehicle, so you probably want to know how fast the claim process is to plan for covering those expenses.
How Do Car Accident Settlements Work in Massachusetts?
Unlike most states, Massachusetts is a no-fault state for car accidents and insurance claims. In this type of system, a person must file a claim with their own insurance company for personal injury protection (PIP) compensation before pursuing additional damages against the other driver or their insurance company.
Under a no-fault system, a person cannot file a lawsuit against another person without meeting the minimum requirements set by law. A person can take the case to court only if:
• They incurred $2,000 or more in reasonable medical expenses, and
• They suffered from injuries including, but not limited to, permanent and serious disfigurement, substantial loss of hearing or sight or a fractured bone(s).
After filing a claim with an insurance company, the company will either deny the claim or issue you a settlement check.
How Much Time Does an Insurance Company Have to Settle a Claim?
In Massachusetts, the amount of time it can take for an insurance claim to be settled is dictated by law. According the state law, insurance companies must pay claims, where liability is clear, in full within a “prompt and reasonable” duration of time. However, this is not an exact timeline, and can be complicated when there is a disagreement over what constitutes a prompt and reasonable duration under the circumstances of the case.
In some instances, external factors may have an adverse effect on the efficiency of an insurer’s internal processing of claims, which may reasonably delay the process.
For example, poor weather conditions may affect the amount of time a claim takes to process. The number of car accidents increases when there is bad weather, leading to more insurance claims being filed, which in turn slows down the claims process for everyone.
In these instances, even though it takes longer for claims to be filed, the delay is reasonable because it was caused by the weather, and beyond the insurer’s control.
Are There Any Limitations Placed on Insurance Companies?
There are limitations placed on how much time processing a claim is permitted to take, and the clock begins to toll once the insurer receives a completed insurance claim form stating the cost of repairs and so forth. Upon receipt of the claims form, the insurer has seven days to pay the claim from the date they received the form. If the claim settlement has not been completed within seven days, the person who filed the claim can file a lawsuit.
What Are the Benefits of Hiring an Attorney?
One of the benefits of hiring an experienced legal team to help you file your insurance claim is their knowledge of the best approaches to take to ensure that the claim settlement is prompt and reasonable. Working on countless insurance claim settlements lends knowledge of the specific legal issues that most frequently arise during the process of insurance claim reimbursement. This special knowledge allows a lawyer who specializes in insurance law to prepare each insurance claim in a manner most unlikely to be rejected as is possible.