Your insurance policy contains several promises made by the insurance company that it will compensate you for certain losses under certain conditions. After you've answered all the questions and cooperated fully, you should expect to receive payment in a reasonable amount of time. Unreasonable payment delays are illegal.
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Fair Claims Settlement Laws
Each state has laws that define expectations and illegal practices for insurance companies when they handle claims. Though the general principles are the same everywhere, the details vary by state. The name of the laws varies as well: they are called fair claims settlement practices, unfair claims practices, unfair trade practices and other names as well, but they all refer to the same things. These laws include the guidelines about acceptable time frames for receiving settlement checks.
Generally, insurers must meet several time frames throughout the course of a claim. They must acknowledge receipt of the claim within a certain time, conduct an investigation if necessary within another period, and either accept or deny the claim according to another time standard. Once the claim is accepted, there is typically a final time period during which the insurer must issue payment to be in compliance with the law. The insurer is not under a time limit to issue payment until a settlement has been reached.
Time periods for receiving your check vary by state and sometimes by type of insurance. California, in insurance code section 2695.7(h), sets a specific time limit of 30 days after reaching a settlement agreement for insurers to issue payment. Alaska, by contrast, has a more vague legal description of this time period; Alaska statute 18.104.22.168 states that insurers must make "prompt and equitable" settlement when liability is reasonably clear. Missouri sets a 30-day limit for life insurance settlements, specifically.
Department of Insurance
Insurance companies sometimes fail to meet the standard set for them by their state's fair settlement practices laws. If you have reached a settlement agreement for your claim but have not received payment within your state's specific time period, or a period you feel is "prompt and equitable" where the law uses such vague terms, alert your adjuster that you have not received payment. If this fails to resolve your issue, contact your state's department of insurance to report your insurer's violation. The department can help resolve issues of this type.
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