How soon after an accident an insurer make a payout on a settlement?

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How soon after an accident an insurer make a payout on a settlement?

My vehicle was damaged about 2 1/2 months ago. The driver of the vehicle assumed 100% of the liability. Through a terribly mismanaged process the insurer concluded that my vehicle was a total loss. I verbally agreed to the amount about a month ago. However, over the following weeks no contact was made to me from the insurance company. I left 2 voicemail messages, then about 2 weeks later established an online account in an attempt to make contact. I was finally contacted today but haven’t received payment. Is there law dictating the insurer’s liability? Do I have a case for suit?

Asked on February 2, 2015 under Accident Law, New Mexico

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

1) Just because the driver (presumably orally or verbally) "assumed 100%" of the liability does not necessarily mean that his insurer has to pay. Another driver's insurer only must pay if a) a court has found their driver liable, and you received a monetary judgment in your favor, or b) the *insurer* agreed to pay you a certain amount in settlement--that is, the insurer's driver cannot decide how much the insurer will pay for the insuer.

Therefore, depending on exactly what happened, exactly who said what, when, to whom, and how (e.g. in writing or not), it may be the case that you do not have an enforceable agreement or settlement.

2) Even if you do have an enforceable settlement, there is no time line in the law on what the insurer must pay--usually, when there is a settlement, there is a *written* settlement that will itself specify when payment is due. Without something in writing stating when you must be paid, there is no hard and fast deadline.

If you believe you are getting the runaround or being strung along or ignored, or that the insurer is going back on what you thought they'd agreed to, your recourse is to sue the at-fault driver; filing a lawsuit (in which his insurer should intervene) may be the only way to force this along.


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