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How Long Does an Insurance Company Have to Investigate a Claim in the UK?

December 14, 2023

When you’ve contacted your car insurance company for a claim, the lengthy period while you wait for your response can be both anxiety-inducing and logistically difficult, especially if you’re out of a car. So how long does an insurance company have to investigate a claim in the UK? While there’s no standard timeframe, your insurer will be obliged to get back to you in a timely manner, so let’s take a look at some factors that can influence the wait.

The Claim Investigation Process

The logistics of investigating a claim is the most vital part of the process for insurance companies: this is when they assess the validity of your claim, assess the extent of the damage or loss, and try to determine the amount of compensation that should be paid out to you. As with any insurance process, the duration of this period can vary based on the complexity of the claim, as well as a range of other outside factors.

Initial Claim Reporting

To keep things timely, the first step is to report the incident to your insurance company as soon as possible, ideally in the first 24 hours after the event. Prompt reporting not only starts the investigation process sooner but also helps in preserving the details of the incident fresh in your mind.

Standard Investigation Timeframe

In the UK, there's no fixed statutory period for an insurance company to complete its investigation of a claim, however the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) does require that insurance companies handle claims promptly. In short, this means that in most cases insurers will aim to resolve claims within a few weeks to a few months.

Factors Affecting Investigation Duration

That being said, several factors can influence the duration of the investigation:

  • Complexity of the Claim: More complex claims, such as those involving substantial property damage or bodily injury, may take longer to investigate.
  • Responsiveness of Involved Parties: The speed at which the claimant and any third parties provide necessary information and documentation can also affect the timeline - so always make sure to get all your documentation in swiftly.
  • Investigation Requirements: Some claims may require a more detailed investigation, including assessment by experts, which can extend and prolong the process.

Different Claims, Different Timeframes

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It’s also worth noting that different types of claims can have different investigation timeframes: for instance, a straightforward car damage claim might be resolved faster than a complex liability claim involving multiple parties and multiple vehicles. While it does add to your wait, insurance companies will always want to ensure that each claim is thoroughly and fairly investigated, analysed, and negotiated.

Delays and Extensions

You may also find that there can be delays in the investigation process outside both you and your insurer’s control; for example, you might have to wait for police reports or medical records to come through. In such cases, your insurer will usually keep you informed about the status of your claim and give you a heads up if they expect any delays.

Claim Resolution

Finally, once the investigation is complete, the insurance company will make a decision on your claim: if your claim is approved, they’ll proceed with the compensation process as laid out in your policy. In the event of a non-fault accident claim, this may include covering repair costs, footing the bill for medical expenses, or paying for any other losses incurred.

The Bottom Line

So, while there’s no set period for an insurance company to investigate a claim in the UK, it’s not normal if you’re being made to wait for months on end with no reasonable explanation. As a policyholder, it's important to provide all necessary information promptly and cooperate with the investigation process, but if you’ve done this and you’re still not getting adequate communication, it’s the responsibility of your insurer to explain why. If you feel that your claim is being unjustly delayed, you can always contact your insurer, get legal support, or seek advice from the Financial Ombudsman Service.


Can I provide additional evidence during the claim investigation?

Yes, you can and should provide any additional evidence you think might help your case during the investigation; this could include new photos from the accident scene, witness statements, or additional documentation.

How will I be informed about the outcome of the claim investigation?

Your insurance company will usually notify you about the outcome of the claim investigation through your preferred method of communication, such as email, letter, or phone call. You can usually change your preferred method of communication at any time by contacting your insurer.

What happens if my insurance claim is denied after the investigation?

If your claim is denied, your insurer should provide a clear explanation for their decision - usually, this comes down to a lack of evidence proving third party liability. If you disagree with the outcome, you can challenge the decision through the insurer's internal dispute resolution process or approach the Financial Ombudsman Service.