How long should it take for an insurer to reply to a claim?

Receiving a cash settlement quickly following a personal injury claim can really make a difference to the Claimant. The efficiency of the personal injury lawyer can help push the case along. However there are many factors beyond the solicitor's control including the nature and complexity of the claim and the efficiency of other parties, such as the Defendant's insurance company.

Settling compensation claims involves insurers, solicitors and the Courts, which can all take time. The duration of Court proceedings can really only be estimated. However, there are legal protocols in place to help speed up insurance companies. Known as Pre-Action Protocols, they define maximum allowable response times to claims.

What types of claim are usually settled quickly?

There are no definitive timings for claim settlements, each case will be different. However, claims will usually be settled within a few months where:

  • Lliability for the accident is clear and unequivocal.
  • The injuries sustained are relatively minor, with no permanent impairment.

More complex cases can involve the Defendant arguing their liability, or disputing the proposed settlement amount. The Defendant could request further medical assessments, or ask for more time to prepare expert testimony. These cases can take much longer to go through the Courts.

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How long can insurance companies take to respond to a claim?

The maximum allowable response time depends on the type of claim being made. There are Pre-Action Protocol guidelines for specific claim categories. These include the Pre-Action Protocol for Personal Injury Claims and the Road Traffic Accident Protocol for road accident claims.

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The Pre-Action Protocol for Personal Injury Claims

The maximum allowable response time under this Protocol is effectively 3 months and 21 days. The timing is broken down as follows:

  1. The Claimant's solicitor submits a letter to the Defendant stating the nature and details of the claim. An initial response from the Defendant must be submitted within 21 days.
  2. The Defendant then has 3 months to investigate the claim and respond. The response must include a decision on whether they admit liability. If they do not admit liability, their response must include disclosure documentation detailing their defence.

If a response is not received by the Protocol time limit, an application to the Court for a pre-action disclosure can be made.

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The Road Traffic Accident Protocol

The maximum allowable response time under this Protocol is 15 working days.

A Claim Notification Form is sent to the Defendant's insurers. The Notification includes all the information the Defendant's insurers will need to investigate the claim and liability.

If the insurance company does not reply by the 15 working day limit, the claim is removed from the Road Traffic Accident Protocol category. The claim then continues under the Pre-Action Personal Injury Protocol, outlined above.

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