Rachael Brennan has been working in the insurance industry since 2006 when she began working as a licensed insurance representative for 21st Century Insurance, during which time she earned her Property and Casualty license in all 50 states. After several years she expanded her insurance expertise, earning her license in Health and AD&D insurance as well. She has worked for small health in...

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Reviewed by Jeffrey Johnson
Insurance Lawyer

UPDATED: Jul 14, 2021

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In a nutshell...

  • Insurance is there to pay you for financial loss
  • You pay monthly premiums to ensure payment
  • Learn what to do when insurance companies won’t pay your claim
  • Find an insurance company that has a good claims records to avoid this problem

If you have had an experience where your car insurance company would not pay for a claim, this can be a frustrating experience.

You pay for insurance in the form of premiums for months all for the privilege of knowing that you will have a way to pay for damages if you have an accident.

Collision insurance pays for auto repairs that you sustain to your vehicle while comprehensive coverage covers anything that is not due to an accident such as vandalism, theft, or acts of nature.

When you file a claim, you expect it to pay off so that the premiums you have paid in month after month will pay out. In other words, you get back some of what you pay in premiums only when you file a claim.

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When an insurance company does not pay, what can you do?

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When you have filed an insurance claim, and the company refuses to pay, there are some things that you should do. First, check to see if you have filed all of the proper paperwork.

There are specific forms that must be filed when you file a claim. Some of these may be done online and submitted through the online website.

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Checking Your Documentation

Once you trace your actions to make sure that you filed the correct paperwork, you may want to check your documentation to see what you have on file that you could present as evidence toward your claim.

This evidence can include documentation such as the following:

  • Police reportsPolice reports are some of the best evidence you have of the extent of your accident, the time and date it happened, and other pertinent information.
  • Driving record – Your driving record shows your record of all accidents up to at least three years. If you get a copy of your driving record, you will have access to the same information your insurer does.
  • Premium receipts and bank statements – Find and highlight the latest premium payments that you paid and then print out a bill from your insurance company to show you paid it on time. If you paid your bill, this proves that it was in effect on the date in question.
  • Date and time of accidents – Make sure to document the date and time of the accident and keep any documentation that proves this in case you have to show it to a court judge or others. Also be aware of the statute of limitations of accident claims in various states for personal injury claims.
  • Time to claim policy information – Before you consider taking other legal steps to obtain your claim money, you may want to look up the time the company promises to have a claim settled. Check to see if the timeline has run out on this yet. Some claims take longer than others depending on the circumstances.
  • Doctors’ receipts and invoices (if applicable) – If you had injuries as a result of your accident, you might want to use doctors’ invoices as part of your claim. In fact, these records will probably be required.

When you make the call to your insurance company when they have refused to file a claim, you should be polite but firm in your resolve to get your claim paid.

You should tell them what you have documented and how it will prove your case that your claim should be honored.

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Why do some companies not pay claims?

Most companies are honest, and unpaid claims are usually due to an oversight on their part, failure to communicate with the right department, or delays due to late paperwork or other issues.

Assume that there is some reasonable explanation for your claim not being paid unless you are proven otherwise. This assumption will help you to deal with them in a business-like manner without getting them overly upset with you.

When to Consult with an Attorney

If your insurance company still does not honor your claim after doing all of the above, you may need legal help to get your claim. Keep the same documentation that you have saved for your insurer and show it to a lawyer instead.

Explain your situation and how you filed for the claim correctly and that the company will not pay as they promised to do.

If you have done everything and there is nothing you do not know as to why your claim is not being paid, the company has a legal and ethical obligation to pay the claim.

Sometimes one letter from an attorney will do the trick. If a company realizes you have all of the right proof, they will rarely try to fight it in court. Sometimes it may end up being involved in an insurance settlement with a claims adjuster making a final decision.

Whatever the case, you need your insurance company to pay for claims owed to you. If you have had trouble collecting claims money from your current insurance company, perhaps it’s time to shop around for a new one.

The ability and timely manner in which insurance companies pay a claim are one of the most important aspects of the company and indicate the company’s financial strength.

Shop and compare on this site to inquire about claims records and let that help guide your decision for car insurance. Look for companies that have a strong and timely claims record and a strong financial reserve.

After all, knowing your claim will be paid is the reason you buy insurance in the first place.

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