Settling a claim as quickly as possible is hugely important to all our claimants, especially those suffering the stress of losing income whilst they can’t work. It’s less important to the defendant insurers who have to pay the settlement, and who are trying to minimise the amount paid. This often means claimants feel the insurer is stalling and taking longer than necessary to reply.
Insurer response times – ‘pre-action protocols’
It will not surprise you to learn that insurers are not always great at acting quickly and often drag their feet at every stage of the claims process. Of course, it is their job to minimise any settlements and pay out as little as possible, and it is our job, and that of our solicitors, to ensure that claims are settled quickly and to their maximum value.
The good news for claimants is that there are legal protocols in place designed to make sure that claims are processed in an expedient manner and help defendant insurers to investigate and settle claims quickly. These timeframes are called ‘pre-action protocols’ and they set a deadline for defendant insurers to respond to claims and carry out their investigations into allegations made against their insured.
The pre-action protocols allow maximum response times for defendant insurers. The times and guidelines can vary depending on the claim type. For example, road accident claims have different protocols to other personal injury claims.
Personal injury protocols
Time limits for personal injury claims allow a maximum response time that is effectively 3 months and 21 days from the date that a claimant’s solicitor has submitted a letter of claim. This usually plays out as follows:
- Claimant solicitor submits a letter of claim to the third party outlining the specifics of the claim and why they are being held responsible.
- A response to this must be provided to the claimant solicitor within 21 days.
- At this point a defendant insurer has a period of 3 months to properly investigate the allegations made in the claim and then respond to the claimant solicitor.
- After the 3 month period, the insurer’s reply has to state whether or not they admit liability. If there is a denial of liability, the response has to state disclosure evidence that details why they have not admitted liability and what their defence is.
In the rare case where an insurer fails to provide a response within the time allowed, a solicitor will go to the courts to progress the claim.
Road traffic accident protocols
Time limits for road traffic accident claim protocols allow a maximum response time of 15 working days. Such claims are run via the claims portal and work using this method:
- Claimant solicitor submits a Claim Notification Form (CNF) to the insurers defending the claim. This notification has to provide all of the details and information that a defendant insurer will need to be able to fully investigate the claim and decide upon their view.
When a defendant insurer fails to respond within the 15 working day limit, the claim will then continue via the pre-action personal injury protocol, stated previously.
How long does it take to get compensation?
Every claimant wants to settle their claim as quickly as possible and move on from their injury. But to get to the point where a compensation claim can be settled involves evidence, expert opinions and investigations from insurers. It also requires clear communication between insurers, solicitors, claimants and occasionally the courts. All of this can take time.
Some claim types are known to settle more quickly than others. In cases where negligence is obvious and injuries and losses are not in dispute., and a defendant insurer has no reasonable option other than to make an admission of liability, a claim will settle more quickly.
Conversely, in a matter relating to a more complex claim where negligence isn’t so easily obvious, a claimant solicitor will have to make a strong argument to succeed and achieve an admission of liability. Here a claim will take longer to settle and could mean it takes a few years to receive compensation.
As you would expect with two opposing parties, there are many issues that can arise to slow things down. As each case is different, there is no way of knowing exactly how long it can take to receive compensation. However, what we can do is ensure our claimants aren’t waiting on us for their case to progress.