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Waiting for your insurance company to pay your settlement requires patience. Several different factors come into play when addressing how long it takes to complete the claim and ultimately how long it takes for your payment to reach your door.
Initiating the Georgia claims process requires you to take several steps:
- File a police report assuming there were injuries to you and/or the associated party. This step is mandatory in the state of Georgia if either injury or death results from an accident.
- Gather relevant evidence: Take pictures of the accident scene and the damage done to both cars. Record your account of the incident while the incident is still fresh in your mind. If there were any witnesses, ask for their own account and contact information – this can help support your claim.
- Treat your injuries and obtain copies of your medical records to use as evidence.
- File your claim with your insurance company no more than two years after the incident.
One factor that can impact how fast an insurance company processes a claim is the nature of your injuries. If you are still recovering from an injury, chances are your attorney will advise against closing out a case. To receive a fair and accurate settlement, it is necessary to know the full extent of the injuries the accident caused. In legal proceedings, this refers to your maximum medical improvement. Once you meet your maximum recovery level, it is possible to determine the route (and cost) of future treatment, as well as provide a final bill for the treatment that helped you reach this level of recovery.
Insurance companies are not always the quickest when it comes to processing claims. Some companies actively take their time in conducting investigations and communicating back to you about their findings. Other, larger agencies assign specialists to handle their claims. Depending on how busy these professionals are, it could take some time for them to thoroughly address your case. This process extends if you challenge a claim determination. The process will extend every time you challenge a determination or provide additional evidence.
The process of negotiating a settlement will add some time to your claims process. Depending on the nature of the insurance adjustors assigned to your case, they could possibly try to lowball you or take advantage of your impatience. Luckily, your attorney will prevent you from accepting any unfair offers and negotiate on your behalf for compensation that clearly reflects the damages you’ve suffered.
If neither party can agree on a settlement, the court will address your case. You will receive a court date – you should expect even more waiting time as you wait for your court date. Adding different legal processes to your case adds more time to your overall claims process.
After a car accident or other personal injury lawyer in Georgia, you may be facing thousands of dollars in medical bills, property damages, and lost wages. Filing an insurance claim and winning a settlement, however, is just the beginning. You will not receive your settlement check immediately. In fact, some insurance companies may wait as long as possible to release the settlement – right up to the state’s deadline.
Georgia’s Time Limits for Paying Out Insurance Claims
Not all states have rules that regulate how soon an insurance company must acknowledge and process a claim. Some states have specific deadlines, while others ask insurance companies to release payments within a reasonable time period. In Georgia, however, insurance companies have strict deadlines by which they must act on claims.
- 15 days to acknowledge a claim. Insurance companies in Georgia must acknowledge that they have received first-party claims within 15 days of the individual filing the claim.
- 15 days to provide proper forms. Insurance companies also have 15 days after the initial filing of the claim to send the claimant proof of loss forms, along with instructions for filling them out.
- 15 days to accept or deny the claim. An insurance carrier must either accept or deny a claim within 15 days of receiving the claimant’s proof of loss forms. If the carrier did not require proof forms, it has 30 days from the initial claim filing.
- 60 days for a final decision. The maximum amount of time an insurance company has to accept or deny a claim is 60 days from the notice of the claim. This is the maximum if the insurer requests additional time. Otherwise, the insurer must inform the claimant of a decision within five days of the applicable time period expiration.
- 10 days from the decision to pay a claim. Finally, an insurance company has just 10 days from the date of notifying the claimant of an acceptance to pay out benefits.
An insurance provider’s failure to meet any of these deadlines could constitute unfair claims practice or insurance bad faith. If you received a notice of claim acceptance from an insurance company, expect the carrier to release your settlement check within 10 days of notifying you of its decision. If you do not receive notice of a pending payout, something may be wrong. An attorney can help you identify insurance bad faith.
What to Do About Delayed Payments?
Although each case is unique, insurance companies must treat each claimant with respect and according to accepted standards of care. Insurers must make timely decisions and payouts. They must also give a reason if they issue claim denials. Denials of valid insurance claims or unfair payment delays could give the claimant the right to take the insurance company to court.
According to Georgia Code Section 33-6-34, an insurance company that engages in unfair settlement practices – such as delaying a claimant’s claim payment – may be guilty of bad faith insurance. This means the company is breaking the state’s insurance payment regulations, and may face charges, fines, and/or penalties. A claimant may have the right to file a bad faith insurance claim against the provider if it fails to pay a settlement within 10 days of the agreement.
A bad faith claim could result not only in payment of the original settlement amount but also in additional compensation for the trouble. The Georgia courts may require the insurance company to pay the claimant interest, damages, and court costs if it finds the provider guilty of unfair settlement practices. It is worthwhile to speak to an attorney about your case if you believe an insurance company should have paid you by now. You have rights as a claimant in Georgia.
What Can I Do?
The one option that is available for claimants to speed up their case is simply to settle. An attorney generally won’t advise this because it’s a great way for the insurance company to cheat you out of fair compensation. Moreover, even if you do settle, it still takes two to four weeks for the insurance company to furnish your check.
It takes patience to effectively follow through the claims process. Even though it may take several months to close your case, retaining your patience will only benefit you in the end. Waiting for the insurance company to address all aspects of your claim ensures that your compensation accurately reflects your damages.