Request a Free Consultation

How Long Does The Insurance Company Have to Respond to a Demand Letter?

Posted on June 28, 2023

In Pennsylvania, there is no specific statutory requirement or mandated timeframe within which an auto insurance company must respond to a demand letter. However, insurers are still obligated to act in good faith and respond to claims promptly.

What is a Demand Letter?

When you are involved in a car accident in Philadelphia, one of the crucial steps in seeking compensation for damages is sending a demand letter to the responsible party’s auto insurance company. This letter serves as a formal notice of the accident, detailing the property damage, injuries, and losses suffered. It also requests a specific amount of compensation to resolve the claim and typically includes a deadline by which the insurer is expected to respond. However, there is no guarantee of when you will receive a response or that you will. 

What is a Reasonable Timeframe to Expect a Response?

What constitutes a reasonable timeframe can vary depending on the circumstances of each case. Typically, insurance companies are expected to respond to a demand letter within a few weeks to a month. However, complex cases or situations may require additional time for an extensive investigation. 

Under Pennsylvania law, insurance companies do have certain obligations. They must handle claims in good faith, meaning they are expected to act reasonably and promptly in evaluating the claim and responding to the demand letter. Failing to respond or unduly delaying a response may be seen as acting in bad faith, potentially giving rise to legal remedies for the injured party.

Factors That Can Impact an Insurance Company’s Response Time

Here are some key factors that can impact the response time:

Complexity of the Claim

The complexity of the claim plays a significant role in determining the response time. For example, if multiple parties are involved, or liability is unclear. Claims with intricate details might take longer to process.

Severity of the Damages

If your damages are significant, such as severe injuries requiring extensive medical treatment, the insurance company may need additional time to evaluate the claim accurately. They may need to consult with experts, review medical reports, or assess the costs of treatment.

Availability of Information

If the demand letter lacks essential details or supporting evidence, it may require additional time for the insurance company to request and review the missing information. 

Workload and Resources

Insurance companies handle numerous claims simultaneously, and if they are understaffed or experiencing a high volume of claims, it may take longer for them to respond to individual demands. 

Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyer

What to Do if There Is No Response

If you have not received a response from the insurance company within a few weeks to a month, first ensure that it was properly addressed and delivered. If you have confirmation of delivery, you may want to follow up with the insurance company to inquire about the status of your claim. If there is still no response, seek legal assistance from a Philadelphia car accident lawyer who can guide you through the next steps.

Do Insurance Companies Intentionally Delay Responding to Claims?

Delaying is a common insurance company tactic to minimize the amount they pay out on a claim. Insurers delay for various reasons including as a deliberate strategy, knowing that the injury victim may give up on their compensation claim or accept a lower offer than they originally sought.

They may delay for a while and then offer a lowball settlement with the hope that you’ll accept a low offer out of frustration.

They also protect their profits through delays because the amount they must pay out on your claim continues to grow interest for them while it’s in their account rather than yours.

When the process drags out through endless delays, it’s easy for injury victims to grow increasingly frustrated and accept a low settlement offer just to see a conclusion to the process and pay some of their mounting expenses.

Distracted Driving

Other Methods Insurance Companies Use to Deny or Underestimate Claims

Insurance companies protect profits at the victim’s expense, prioritizing their profits over payouts. Your attorney from Rosenbaum & Associates will safeguard your interests by preventing unnecessary delays and other common insurance company tactics used against victims such as the following:

  • Offering you a low settlement in exchange for signing away your right to a lawsuit—often very soon after the injury, before you could know the full extent of your damages
  • Repeatedly asking for gratuitous information and repeat forms as delaying tactics
  • Calling on a recorded line and then taking your words out of context to use against you, for example, a simple, “I’m fine, thank you,” may be used as evidence that you’re not as injured as you claim
  • Following your social media accounts to “catch” you looking fit and healthy even if you were just smiling through your pain for the camera
  • Claiming your doctor’s recommended treatment isn’t necessary for your injury
  • Asking for medical authorization to examine your injury record and then reviewing your entire medical history seeking a preexisting condition or previous injury to claim as the cause of your pain or other symptoms
  • Assigning you a portion of the blame for the injury to reduce the amount of your compensation by your percentage of the fault under the state’s comparison negligence laws
  • Using repeated delays until the statute of limitations for a lawsuit expires so you’ll have to accept a low settlement

Delays are not the only tactics insurers use to protect their profits at your expense. It’s always best to hire an attorney after an injury and direct all communication with the insurance company to your lawyer.

Do Delays Impact My Ability to File a Lawsuit?

Like most states, Pennsylvania has a time limit for filing a lawsuit after a personal injury. The state’s two-year statute of limitations ensures that evidence remains available if the case goes to court and that eyewitness testimony is still reliable.

If an insurance company continually delays its response to a demand letter and negotiations, it could impact the amount of time you have left to go to court if the case requires a lawsuit.