How long do insurance claims take and how soon can you claim?

5 minute read

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Having to make a home or car insurance claim can be stressful but your insurance provider should aim to make the process as straightforward as possible. If it's the first time you've made a claim, you may be wondering how much time a claim can take to go through or how soon you can claim on your insurance after taking out your policy. Below, you can find the answers to these questions and more to help you know what to expect.

How soon can you claim on insurance?

Once you’ve taken out insurance, you can typically make a claim any time after the start date on the policy. It’s worth checking what this is as sometimes the date you paid for the insurance isn’t necessarily the official start date. But there’s no rule that says you have to wait a certain amount of time before claiming.

As soon as an incident has occurred, you should contact your insurance provider. Depending on the type of incident, the longer you leave it the worse the damage can get. This is particularly the case after a flood or leak in the home, for example, so don’t hesitate. Many providers ask that you get in touch within 24 hours of the incident occurring.

If you’re unsure how to make a claim, you can use this  handy claim guide.


How long does an insurance claim take?

The time that it takes an insurance claim to finalise could be anywhere between a week, a month or even a year.

Once you’ve made a claim through your current insurance provider, the only thing you can do is wait, unless your provider advises otherwise.

Behind the scenes, they’ll assess your claim to determine whether it's covered by the policy. Once everything is sorted for you, your provider will likely be in touch to tell you if and when the claim has been successful. The claims handler will also be there every step of the way to advise on the next steps and expected timings.


What can affect timings?

The time a claim takes will depend on a number of factors, such as:

  • The type of claim
  • The complexity of the situation
  • How severe the damage is
  • How many people are involved in the process

In the case of a multi-vehicle car accident, this will likely involve lots of people who all have different insurance providers. Each insurance company will need to spend time liaising with the others to determine what happened and how they will deal with it.

While home insurance claims usually only involve one household or policyholder, other factors can affect how long it takes to process.

The claim may also take longer if you have multiple items that you’re trying to claim for. A house that’s been flooded with many items of furniture damaged will take longer than a single item, so do take this into consideration.


Do certain claims get priority? 

Although all claims are important, how long the claim takes also depends on the severity of your situation.

For example: if you've had a house fire, the insurance company will try to work as quickly as possible and prioritise this claim. The length of time it takes to settle will of course depend on the complexity of each individual claim.

Insurance providers will often deal with many claims at a time and may have to prioritise depending on customer needs and the complexity of the claim. Due to the number of different factors involved, the time it will take to process will always be based on the individual circumstances of your claim. When your claim has been approved or denied, your provider will be in touch to let you know the outcome and what you can do next.


How to check an insurance claim

There are a number of ways you can check the status of your claim. However, it's likely that there won't be any significant changes day to day and if there are any important updates, your provider will be in touch themselves.

Some providers offer updates if you log into their website. As a policy holder, you may have an online account with your provider. You can log in and see recent activity on your account as well as relevant updates. If your provider offers this, then it's worth creating an online account to stay up to date.

Other providers may have gone a step further and could even have their own app. If you have a smartphone, you can download the app and stay updated that way. You’ll be able to see any major updates at a glance and you could even turn on notifications so that the app notifies you when a claim is complete.

Alternatively, you can phone your insurance provider during business hours to get an update on your claim.


Is there a time limit on settling an insurance claim?

Generally speaking, there is no maximum time limit for how long it can take to settle an insurance claim. While unusual, this means that the claim could go on for some time without coming to an agreement or a conclusion. This is quite rare and most claims won’t take longer than a year to complete.

There is the option to take your claim to an ombudsman if the process is taking an unreasonable amount of time, or processes are not being followed correctly. However, your provider should keep you informed on the progress of your claim. If you have any queries throughout you can speak to them.


The time limit for making a claim

When it comes to claiming on your insurance after an incident, you must do so within six years. This is laid out in the Limitation Act 1980, that states you can claim up to six years after the event, but no longer than this.

When an accident occurs, most people want the problem solved immediately, so it’s rare that a person would wait this long. Once this time period has passed, you cannot claim on your insurance for that incident.


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