How long does an insurance company have before making a liability decision on a claim?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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How long does an insurance company have before making a liability decision on a claim?


Someone hit my car and he will not speak to his
insurance own company. Ive been told so far that he
is disputing the accident but does not want to give a
statement. I have already given my statement and I
am simply waiting for his insurance to update me
and make a decision. I have no doubt that the other
party is at fault so I want to go through his insurance
and not mine.

Asked on December 13, 2017 under Accident Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

His insurer *never* has to make a decision about your claim--they can simply delay or ignore it (which as a practical matter, is, however, the equivalent of making an adverse or negative decision about it). Remember: his insurer is *his* insurer--he pays for the policy; he is the customer; he is the one they have a legal obligation or duty to. His insurer has no obligation to you; their only obligation is to defend their insured in court and/or pay any judgments against him (e.g. if you sue him and win). Often, the other person's  insurer chooses to pay or settle a claim, if they think it is likely the other driver will sue their insured and win, or else if they think that it is cheaper and more cost effective to simply pay--after all, why fight claim and spend more money fighting it than it would cost to settle it?--but that is voluntary on their part; they are not required to make you an offer or settlement, or otherwise pay your claim. (And if the do make you an offer, may make a "lowball" one you find unacceptable.)
The only thing you can do if they won't make you an offer (or an acceptable one) is to sue their insured (you sue the insured--the other driver--not the insurer) in court for the damage he did and costs he caused; the insurer can refuse to pay you voluntarily, but if you sue and win, the other driver and/or his insurer will have to pay you.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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