It is sometimes in the best interest of an insurance company to settle an accident claim as quickly and efficiently as possible. However, some accident claims take longer to resolve than others. How long does it take a Virginia insurance company to investigate a car accident claim? The answer can vary.
At Whitestone Young, PC, we want to help you understand the accident claim process and what timeframe insurance companies are operating within.
Steps to Take After a Virginia Car Accident
The actions you take after a Virginia car accident can impact the outcome of your claim and potentially the time it takes an insurance company to investigate that claim. Consider taking these steps after a Virginia car accident:
- Contact law enforcement
- Seek medical attention immediately
- Exchange information with the other driver and potential witnesses
- Document the scene by taking pictures
- Contact an experienced car accident attorney
- Inform your insurance provider
- Follow your doctor’s treatment plan
- Keep all bills and receipts related to the accident
- Stay off social media
You should always contact the authorities after an accident. A police report can be vital to helping an insurance company process your claim promptly. However, Virginia law requires you to report the accident to the authorities within 24 hours if the accident caused any injuries, property damage, or death.
You will also need to report the accident to your insurance company. Most insurance companies require you to report the accident within 15 to 30 days after the crash. If another driver was at-fault for the crash, you’ll need to file a claim with their insurance carrier, too. The at-fault driver’s policy may have specific timeframes for filing a claim, so you or your attorney should review the other party’s insurance policy.
How Long Does an Insurance Company Have to Investigate a Claim in Virginia?
Unfortunately, there is not always a clear answer to this question. The Virginia Bureau of Insurance estimates it takes most insurance companies 45 days to complete an accident investigation. However, there is no specific law dictating this timeframe. Instead, claims must be reviewed and settled “reasonably promptly.” This terminology leaves a lot open to interpretation.
Virginia law does stipulate that if an investigation cannot be completed within 45 calendar days, the insurance provider must notify the claimant in writing that more time is needed. This written notification must also include the reason for needing additional time to complete the investigation.
What Can Delay an Accident Investigation?
While 30 to 45 days is the average, not all accident investigations are the same. There are several valid reasons why it may take an insurance provider longer to review the circumstances of an accident. Complicating factors may take a provider longer to investigate. Those factors could include:
- Multiple parties involved in the collision
- Disputes over fault
- Timing of medical treatments
- Scale of the damage or severity of injuries
Delays can also happen when crucial information is missing, and the insurance provider is waiting for a response from you or someone else involved in the claim process.
Finally, some insurance companies delay the process in bad faith, meaning the company is neglecting the claim or keeping you in the dark without a viable reason. This delay can be intentional and is sometimes a tactic that an insurer will use to force a person to accept a lower settlement offer than they might deserve. In many cases, the longer the delay, the more financial strain an accident victim will be under. After enough time, the financial pressure may be so immense that the victim accepts anything the insurer offers, even if it is not a fair settlement amount.
Contact a Skilled Virginia Car Accident Attorney Today
Are you the victim of a Virginia car accident caused by a careless driver? You don’t have to play games with the insurance company. Call 703-591-0200 to talk with an experienced Virginia car accident attorney from Whitestone Young, PC. Our seasoned team can help you file a claim and navigate the sometimes-confusing claim process. We will also aggressively negotiate on your behalf for the money you deserve.
Contact our office today to set up a confidential legal consultation.