When you file an insurance claim after a car accident in New York, you expect the insurance company to handle your claim in good faith. This is especially true given that in most cases you are filing a “no-fault” claim with your own insurance company.
But, once you file your claim, you may find that the process takes much longer than you would like. You may go days – even weeks – without hearing from your insurance adjuster. The good news is that New York establishes deadlines for insurance adjusters to respond. The bad news is that these deadlines don’t apply in all circumstances; and, even when they do, insurance adjusters can still take weeks to get back to you about your claim.
What are New York’s Deadlines for Insurance Claim Adjusters?
1. The Deadline to Acknowledge Your Claim
The first deadline for insurance adjusters in New York is the deadline to respond when you file a claim. Under New York law, your insurance adjuster must acknowledge the receipt of your claim within 15 business days. This applies whether you are filing a “no-fault” or uninsured/underinsured motorist (UIM) claim with your own insurance company (known as a first-party claim), or you are filing a fault-based claim under another driver’s policy (known as a third-party claim).
2. The Deadline to Investigate Your Accident
In addition to acknowledging receipt of your claim, insurance companies must also initiate an investigation within 15 business days. The scope of the investigation must be sufficient to determine liability. However, while the insurance company’s investigation is an important step in the claim process (the insurance companies won’t consider making payment until they investigate), you must hire an attorney to evaluate your legal rights independently. The insurance companies investigate with their best interests in mind, and they won’t necessarily uncover everything that an attorney may be able to uncover when focused on maximizing your financial recovery.
With regard to the duration of the investigation, New York law does not establish a specific deadline. Instead, the investigative process is subject to insurance companies’ general obligation to process claims in good faith. The amount of time it takes to investigate can vary depending on a variety of different factors (including how quickly you respond to your adjuster’s communications), so the law does not hold insurance companies to a strict timeframe. However, your insurance adjuster must still keep you reasonably up-to-date throughout the process.
3. The Deadline to Provide Notice of Acceptance or Denial
Once the insurance company completes its investigation (including obtaining all requested information from you), it then has 15 days to notify you of whether it is accepting or denying liability. This is not the deadline to determine how much the insurance company is willing to pay, but rather the deadline to determine if it is going to pay anything at all. If the insurance company accepts liability, then the next major step in the process is to calculate how much you are entitled to recover.
4. The Deadline to Assert Lack of Coverage
Another important deadline for insurance companies in New York is the deadline to notify claimants that their claims aren’t covered. If your insurance company is asserting that your policy has lapsed or that you are not entitled to coverage because you have violated the terms of your policy, your insurance adjuster must notify you as soon as it makes this determination.
What Can You Do to Speed Up the Insurance Claim Process?
While these deadlines provide some protection against insurance companies delaying accident victims’ claims indefinitely, as you can see, the process can still take a significant amount of time. With this in mind, what can you do to speed up your insurance claim? Here are some tips from our New York accident attorneys:
- File your claim right away. After being involved in an accident, you should file a claim with your insurance company right away. This will start the clock ticking, and it will ensure that your insurance company has every opportunity to collect the evidence it needs to make a determination of liability.
- Respond to your insurance adjuster promptly. While it may take weeks for you to hear from your insurance adjuster, you should respond to your adjuster’s communications right away.
- Take care of your vehicle repairs and medical needs. By getting your vehicle repaired and following through with your medical care, you can avoid having your insurance adjuster blame you for delaying the resolution of your claim.
- Follow up. If you don’t hear from your insurance adjuster, don’t be shy about following up. While you certainly aren’t required to make sure your adjuster does his or her job, being diligent can help move the process along.
- Get help with your insurance claim. Hiring an attorney not only shows that you are serious about securing the coverage you deserve, but it also gives you the ability to rely on your attorney’s insights and advice. Your attorney can deal with your adjuster for you, and your attorney can determine when delays cross the line to insurance bad faith.
Contact a Kingston Car Accident Lawyer Today
If you’ve been hurt in a car wreck because of someone else’s negligence, you have rights. The New York car accident attorneys at O’Connor & Partners, PLLC can help.
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Call O’Connor & Partners, PLLC today at (845) 303-8777 for a free, no-obligation consultation, or contact us online. Our Kingston car accident lawyers serve clients in Poughkeepsie, Newburgh, and other New York areas.