How Long Does an Insurance Company Have to Investigate a Claim in Las Vegas?

Accident victims have immediate expenses, which means they need a settlement as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, as many victims realize, insurance companies are not eager to offer fair compensation. For one thing, an insurance company needs to identify fault for the crash. If their insured was not at fault, then they are not legally obligated to pay compensation to you. Although fault might be clear cut in some accidents, it is up for debate in others.

At Ladah Law Firm, we get asked all the time, “How long does an insurance company have to investigate a claim in Las Vegas?” The usual answer is 30 days from the date you submit your claim. But as our Las Vegas Car Accident Attorney explains below, insurers regularly get more than 30 days.

Insurance agent writing on clipboard while examining car

How Much Time Does an Insurer Have to Approve a Claim?

According to Nevada Administrative Code 686A.675, an insurer has 30 days from the date you submit a claim to approve or deny it. That’s a very specific deadline. It is designed to get insurers to take a claim seriously and not put it in a locked drawer or forget about it.

Like other states, Nevada heavily regulates its insurance industry, which has a history of using unfair practices. One of those unfair practices is sitting on claims without responding. For this reason, Nevada created this very specific deadline—30 days to approve or deny once they receive the claim.

But guess what? This isn’t really a firm deadline at all. In fact, an insurer who needs to perform an investigation can almost always get more time. In fact, they don’t need anyone’s permission to go over the 30-day deadline. They can simply extend it themselves.

Can They Extend This 30-Day Deadline?

Yes. One issue that arises with accidents is fault. Who is responsible for the accident? Most insurance is liability insurance, which means an insurance company will only pay compensation if its insured is at fault for the accident.

For example, you might get involved in a T-bone accident at an intersection. Because the other driver hit you, you make a claim on his liability insurance to cover your medical bills and car repairs. However, the other driver claims you ran a red light, which is why he hit you. If that were true, you’d be at fault for the crash—and you couldn’t make a claim on the liability insurance. An insurer will want to investigate to determine fault before they pay.

An investigation takes time. It’s not unusual for insurers to need more than 30 days to perform a thorough investigation into a crash. This can include interviewing people and possibly inspecting vehicles, as well as visiting the accident scene.

If an insurer cannot settle a claim in 30 days because they need to investigate, they must send you a notification of that fact. They will probably send it by mail. The letter should state the reasons why they need more time.

Can They Extend the Deadline Indefinitely?

So let’s say the insurer needs to investigate to determine fault. How much time do they get?

There is actually no maximum amount of time. The administrative code states they must send you a notification every 30 days telling you why they need additional time to investigate. Maybe they can’t locate a witness. Or possibly they need more information from you about your injuries. They need to spell it out in the letter they send you. And every 30 days they need to send a letter explaining why they can’t yet settle the case.

Can this go on indefinitely? Can one month become two months become five years? Not really. There are certain limitations on an insurance company.

For example, Nevada law says an insurer cannot delay settling a claim for illegitimate reasons. Nevada’s statute of limitations gives you a short amount of time to sue, and you might be approaching that deadline. An insurer cannot delay investigation or settlement so that you go over it. If you don’t have a lawyer and are bumping up against the deadline, they must tell you of that fact. That gives you a heads up to get your lawsuit filed.

What Are Unfair Insurance Practices?

Nevada Revised Statutes § 686A.310 identifies certain unfair practices which insurers are prohibited from engaging in. Some of them apply to investigations:

  • Failing to acknowledge and respond in a reasonable fashion to insurance claims
  • Failing to implement reasonable standards for the prompt investigation of a claim
  • Failing to accept or deny coverage within a reasonable time after a claimant has submitted proof of loss requirements
  • Failing to settle a claim promptly and fair when liability is clear

Admittedly, this language is vague. What is a “reasonable standard” for a “prompt” investigation? What is a “reasonable” amount of time for accepting a claim when liability is clear?

Many insurance adjusters will claim they are diligently working on a case and performing an investigation. Months roll by and you have no idea if they are getting close to settling your claim. Do you just have to sit tight and wait for the insurer to finish an investigation?

This is where an attorney is a huge benefit. We can contact an insurance company and make sure the investigation is on track. Some investigations admittedly take more than 30 days to complete. But you shouldn’t wait an unnecessarily long amount of time.

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Why Do Insurers Delay Investigations?

There’s no other way to say it: Insurers drag out investigations intentionally. That’s just the way many of them operate. Insurers know you have painful injuries and probably can’t work. They know you are feeling financial distress.

In fact, many insurers delay investigations because they want to put pressure on you to settle. It’s not fun having bills to pay when you can’t work because of an injury. Insurance companies hope that if they wait, you’ll eventually grab their settlement offer out of desperation.

These delaying tactics are part of an intentional “deny, delay, defend” strategy insurance companies adopted in the 1980s to goose profits. And it has been very successful for them. Insurance companies are some of the largest businesses in Nevada.

Can a Lawyer Speed up an Investigation?

Yes. And insurers will hate that you hired one.

Of course, Insurers are prohibited from discouraging injured victims from hiring an attorney. That is another example of bad faith. We highly recommend hiring someone to look out for your best interests.

How can an attorney help you? First, we can remind insurers of their obligations under the state’s bad faith laws. We can also bring a lawsuit quickly, if necessary, to put pressure on an insurance company.

When an experienced law firm gets involved, insurers realize that their “deny, delay, defend” tactics might not work. Some of them will take a fresh look at your case and determine it’s in their best interest to settle. They might even come to the table with a realistic, fair settlement offer that fully compensates you.

Consult Ladah Law for a Free Consultation

If you are struggling to get an insurer to take your claim seriously, we can help. We have negotiated with many insurers over the years. We know their tricks and can counter them. For example, we can help gather evidence quickly so the insurer doesn’t drag its feet. We can also use the state’s bad faith insurance laws to your advantage.

Call (702) 252-0055 to speak with a Las Vegas Accident Lawyer. Our consultations are free.