Why is the insurance company delaying paying my claim?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Why is the insurance company delaying paying my claim?

A guy ran a stop sign in front of my home, T-boned a car, and ended up smashing into my 2 parked cars. The person he T-boned made a claim with his personal insurance company, who in turned opened a subrogation case against the at-fault party’s insurance. Due to a high deductible, I opted to make a claim only with the at-fault driver’s insurer. The at-fault driver didn’t have enough coverage to make everyone whole. After many, many months of waiting for the subrogation to be calculated and having my calls and emails ignored, I finally received a claims release form for 87 of my property damage bill. I accepted it, signed the claims release, and returned it. That was a month ago but I haven’t heard from the insurance company since, so I emailed them. Now they’re saying it will be at least another month before i receive the check because the other party’s insurance company has not returned their release form. I was told if they fail to do so, the at-fault party will be contacted and will have to give consent in writing for his insurance to pay my claim. Is this legal? Is there anything I can do? The accident was 5 months ago and there were no injuries, only property damage.

Asked on August 4, 2018 under Accident Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

If you have a signed settlement agreement with the other insurer specifying payment within a defined period of time and they do not honor it, you can sue the insurer for breach of contract for not honoring its obligation.
If you have a signed settlement agreement with the other insurer but it does not specify when payment is to be made, they need to make it within a "reasoonable" time--which is not well defined, but generally would be within thirty or so days of the agreement being signed by both parties (though usually, I'd recommend allowing 45 - 60 days before taking action). If they don't pay within what appears to be a "reasonable" time, you could again sue for breach of contract.
If you don't have an signed settlement agreement guarantying payment, then there is nothing you can do against the insurer: the other driver's insurer is his insurer, not yours, and has no legal obligation or duty directly to you. Their duty is to their insured, and while they will often settle the case and pay you, they do so because they feel it is best for their insured and them, not because they owe you anything. So without a settlement agreement, which is a contact, to enforce, you cannot compel the other insurer to pay you or to expedite payment. All you can do is to sue the at-fault driver for the damage, costs, etc. you incurred--suing the at fault driver is your only recourse if neither he nor his insurer voluntarily compensates 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 AttorneyPages.com 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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