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How to Speed up a Homeowners Insurance Claim
When you file a homeowners insurance claim for a covered event, it sets a process in motion. In theory, the process is simple, easy, and follows predictable stages. However, in practice, it’s not always that straightforward.
Insurance claims can be complicated, stressful, and often take longer than expected to finalize.
Read on to learn how to speed up your homeowners insurance claim so your insurer can reimburse you faster.
How Long Should It Take My Insurer to Pay My Claim?
Generally, it can take anywhere from a few days to several weeks or longer to receive payment from your insurer for a claim. The exact length of time depends on many factors, including:
- The size and complexity of your claim
- The timely submission of paperwork
- Your homeowners insurance company
- The laws of your state
Deadlines Under California’s Fair Claims Settlement Practices Regulations
Each state has its own rules and regulations governing insurance companies.
In California, the Fair Claims Settlement Practices Regulations provide deadlines that insurance companies need to abide by.
Californian insurance companies have:
– 15 days to respond to any communication from a claimant
Section 2695.5(b) – “Upon receiving any communication from a claimant, regarding a claim, that reasonably suggests that a response is expected, every licensee shall immediately, but in no event more than fifteen (15) calendar days after receipt of that communication, furnish the claimant with a complete response based on the facts as then known by the licensee. This subsection shall not apply to require communication with a claimant subsequent to receipt by the licensee of a notice of legal action by that claimant.”
– 21 days to respond in writing to inquiries from the California Department of Insurance
Section 2695.5(a) – “Upon receiving any written or oral inquiry from the Department of Insurance concerning a claim, every licensee shall immediately, but in no event more than twenty-one (21) calendar days of receipt of that inquiry, furnish the Department of Insurance with a complete written response based on the facts as then known by the licensee.”
– 15 days to acknowledge a claim, provide forms, instructions, and assistance, and begin investigating the claim
Section 2695.5(e) – “Upon receiving notice of claim, every insurer shall immediately, but in no event more than fifteen (15) calendar days later, do the following unless the notice of claim received is a notice of legal action:
(1) acknowledge receipt of such notice to the claimant unless payment is made within that period of time. If the acknowledgment is not in writing, a notation of acknowledgment shall be made in the insurer’s claim file and dated.
(2) provide to the claimant necessary forms, instructions, and reasonable assistance, including but not limited to, specifying the information the claimant must provide for proof of claim;
(3) begin any necessary investigation of the claim.”
– 40 days to accept or deny a claim or provide the claimant with written notice of the need for additional time
Section 2695.7(b) – “Upon receiving proof of claim, every insurer, except as specified in subsection 2695.7(b)(4) below, shall immediately, but in no event more than forty (40) calendar days later, accept or deny the claim, in whole or in part. The amounts accepted or denied shall be clearly documented in the claim file unless the claim has been denied in its entirety.”
Section 2695.7(c)(1) – “If more time is required than is allotted in subsection 2695.7(b) to determine whether a claim should be accepted and/or denied in whole or in part, every insurer shall provide the claimant, within the time frame specified in subsection 2695.7(b), with written notice of the need for additional time. This written notice shall specify any additional information the insurer requires in order to make a determination and state any continuing reasons for the insurer’s inability to make a determination. Thereafter, the written notice shall be provided every thirty (30) calendar days until a determination is made or notice of legal action is served.”
Note: Unfortunately, as per Section 2695.7(c)(1), the 40 days limit isn’t cast in stone. Your insurer might give you notice that they require additional time and every 30 days thereafter until they decide whether or not to approve your claim.
– 30 days after accepting a claim to make a full or partial payment on the portion of the claim that’s not in dispute
Section 2695.7(h) – “Upon acceptance of the claim in whole or in part and, when necessary, upon receipt of a properly executed release, every insurer, except as specified in subsection 2695.7(h)(1) and (2) below, shall immediately, but in no event more than thirty (30) calendar days later, tender payment or otherwise take action to perform its claim obligation.”
How to Proactively Speed Up a Homeowners Insurance Claim
Many homeowners wait until after suffering damages from a covered event before establishing what coverage they have and how the claims process works. When the event occurs they are often totally unprepared for filing an insurance claim.
By being proactive, you can speed up your homeowners insurance claim.
Here are some tips on how to be proactive:
Regularly review your homeowners insurance policy – Understand what coverage you have and if it’s sufficient for your needs. Consider taking out optional homeowners insurance, if necessary. Waiting until after a covered event to figure it out might cause delays and an incorrect filing.
Make a home inventory list – Always have an up-to-date home inventory list, including photos and videos of your personal property. It can save you a lot of time and speed up the claims process than if you have to create one from scratch after a covered event.
Keep documents that might support an insurance claim in a safe place – Your insurer expects you to look after your property. It includes maintenance and repairs. Keep relevant documents, reports, and invoices in a safe place so you can easily submit them to your insurance company, if necessary.
Factors That Affect the Speed of the Claims Process
Factors that might affect the speed of the claims process include:
How long it takes you to file your insurance claim – The longer you take to file a claim, the longer it takes your insurance company to process it.
Delays in providing required documents to your insurer – Failing to submit documents, such as a Proof of Loss form, when requested to do so might cause your insurance company to delay or deny your claim.
The size and complexity of your claim – Large and complex claims, such as smoke and fire damage, typically take longer to process than small, straightforward claims.
Poor communication – The longer you take to respond to questions asked by your insurance company or their insurance adjuster, the longer the claims process takes. Always try to reply to questions on the same day or as soon as possible.
Mistakes – By making mistakes, such as cleaning up without documenting the damage before the insurance adjuster arrives, you might destroy evidence to support your claim, resulting in delays.
How to Speed up Your Insurance Claim and Get Paid Faster
Here are some tips and advice on how you might be able to speed up your homeowners insurance claim so you can get paid faster.
- File your claim ASAP – Don’t delay filing your insurance claim. If you are unsure of how to proceed, ask your insurer and/or your insurance agent for assistance.
- Take photos and videos of the damage ASAP – Secure evidence of the damage before a restoration company starts working on your home.
- Take steps to prevent further damage – If your insurance company feels you could have prevented further damage to your property but didn’t, it might cause delays and affect the outcome of your claim.
- Submit requested documentation and information without delay – Do everything you can to cooperate with your insurance company. You won’t create a sense of urgency if they’re always waiting for you.
- Meet the insurance adjuster at your home – Be present when the insurance adjuster appointed by your insurer to manage your claim inspects any damage. You don’t want them to jump to conclusions without any input from you.
- Stay in touch with the insurance adjuster – Be proactive. Ask if they require any additional information and if there’s anything you can do to expedite the process.
- Keep records of all conversations – Document everything! Make notes every time you have a conversation with your insurer or their insurance adjuster. Write down the date of the call, who you spoke to, and what was discussed or promised.
- Get everything in writing – Always ask your insurer to confirm everything in writing. If they don’t, be proactive and email them about what was discussed or agreed.
- Always be polite – Dealing with an insurance adjuster can be frustrating. However, always be polite, even when disagreeing on matters.
- Get a second opinion from a public adjuster – Getting a second opinion from a public adjuster is wise when you have a dispute with your insurer about the value of your claim.
That's a Wrap
Homeowners often don’t have the experience and expertise to deal with insurance companies on large or complicated claims or negotiate a settlement agreement. It might cause delays in the insurance claims process.
By avoiding typical mistakes made by policyholders and by following the tips and advice we share in this article, you might be able to speed up your homeowners insurance claim.
For large or complex claims, we recommend you hire a licensed public adjuster who can look after your best interests. An experienced public adjuster can help you avoid the challenges of managing your homeowners insurance claim.
Avner Gat, Inc. has 17+ years of experience as a Los Angeles public adjuster covering Southern California. We protect homeowners from the games and fine print that insurance companies are known for.
Call us at (818) 917-5256 to find out how we can help you.