Insurance companies have developed a bit of a reputation for stalling payments for accident claims. What's worse, insurers sometimes deny claims after a long waiting period, forcing you to start the process all over again from the beginning. If you are trying to settle with an insurance company that is continuing to stall payment on an accident claim, you may be able to speed up the process by pressuring them to settle sooner. If you are unable to settle the claim faster yourself, you can also hire an attorney to help you.
Organize and Maintain Complete Records
Insurance adjusters are notorious for misplacing or forgetting to request important documents. Most adjusters don't do this on purpose, but it is a direct result of being stretched too thin. To counteract this and keep the claim process in motion, organize all of your records for the accident, along with any documents the insurance company sends you. Keep track of telephone conversations by writing down names, call times and summaries of what was discussed. Print out emails, request copies of everything the agent has on his desk and be proactive in tracking down copies of things like the accident report and any appraisals. Update your file regularly. If the adjuster claims to have lost a document, immediately provide them with a copy to prevent potential delays.
Get an Adjuster's Name
If you don't already have a point of contact at the insurance company, get one. Having an individual adjuster to speak to will make it harder for the insurer to stall because the adjuster becomes personally responsible when things aren't done. Make sure to get the adjuster's full name, direct office number, mailing address and email address. If he has a secretary, get her contact details, too.
Be a Squeaky Wheel
Once you have a point of contact, begin calling the adjuster on a regular basis. This will help keep the claim fresh in his mind. If he is purposely stalling to pay your accident claim, continuous contact will encourage the adjuster to settle the accident claim quickly. Just how squeaky a wheel you need to be depends on your circumstances; some people find talking to the adjuster by phone every other day is enough to do the trick, while others need to call multiple times a day to see results.
Respond to Every Request
Claimants often don't respond to requests for documents or information they receive from the insurance company right away. Work, family, and social preoccupations can lead to you putting the request aside for weeks or even months. Not only will this slow down settlement, but the adjuster can use this as excuse to stall your claim even longer. To prevent this, immediately return phone calls and submit documents within a day or two after receiving the request. Always send things to the adjuster by Certified Mail with signature delivery to ensure it was received, and remember to make copies of everything before sending it out so you have an additional copy in your file.
Enlist an Attorney
When all else fails to get the insurance company's attention, you will need to retain an attorney who handles accident claims. Your attorney should be able to put an end to the stalling and speed up the process of settling your accident claim with the insurance company. Additionally, f you have handled the accident claim yourself up until now, your legal bills will likely be substantially lower than they could be if you had retained an attorney to handle the entire claim.
- "Aggregation & Divisibility of Damage: Tort & Insurance Law; Ken Oliphant; 2009.
- "Insurance (Cases and Materials on Coverage, Claims, and Litigation);" B. Zalma; 2001.
Carrie Ferland is a practicing civil litigation defense attorney in the Philadelphia Area. As an author, her work has been featured in various legal publications for over 10 years. Ferland is a 2000 graduate of Pennsylvania State University and completed her Juris Doctorate and Master of Business Administration with the Dickinson School of Law. She is currently pursuing a Doctor of Philosophy in English.