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

Receiving a demand letter from an injury victim or their attorney can be an anxious time for insurance companies. These letters outline the compensation being sought and the reasons why the insured party is liable. Insurance carriers must act within a reasonable timeframe, but no laws expressly state how long they have to respond.

Typically, insurers aim to reply within 30-45 days. However, many factors affect the actual response time.

What is a Demand Letter?

A demand letter is a formal request made by an injury victim asking for compensation from the at-fault party’s insurer. It contains:

  • Date, time, and location of the incident
  • Description of the injuries sustained
  • Medical treatment details
  • Expenses incurred
  • Impact on the victim’s life
  • Demanded settlement amount
  • Reasons for liability

Plaintiffs submit demand letters once treatment concludes or when they have a good understanding of current and future medical needs. The letter should provide documentation supporting the claimed losses.

Common evidence includes:

  • Medical records
  • Bills and receipts
  • Police reports
  • Accident photos/videos
  • Witness statements

Submitting strong evidence is crucial for getting the insurance company to take the demand seriously.

Is There a Time Limit for Insurance Companies to Respond?

No federal or state laws mandate a timeframe for insurers to reply to demand letters. The lack of a legal response deadline gives carriers leeway. However, most have internal policies aiming for a 30-45 day turnaround.

Insurers focus on investigating liability and verifying damages within this period. They contact witnesses, review evidence, research case law, and evaluate the policy’s coverage.

However, several factors often extend an insurance company’s response timeline:

Claim Complexity

Insurers need time to analyze complex claims involving:

  • Severe or ongoing injuries
  • Multiple victims
  • Unclear liability disputes
  • Coverage uncertainties

Complex claims require extensive review before the company can determine its liability risk. Simple claims with minimal treatment costs receive quicker responses.

Company Resources

Large insurers with plentiful staff can handle claims faster than small companies. Heavy caseloads and limited employees cause delays.

Claim Size

Six and seven-figure demands get higher scrutiny than smaller claims. Insurers vigorously investigate high-value injury claims to minimize payouts.

Pre-existing Conditions

Claims involving pre-existing health issues undergo increased analysis. Insurers must determine if a policyholder’s prior condition or an accident caused claimed injuries.

Why Don’t Insurance Companies Respond Faster?

Insurers have incentives to take their time responding to demand letters:

  • Investigating reduces payouts – Thorough inquiries into liability and damages help insurers avoid overpaying claims.

  • Delay tactics persuade victims to settle – Ignoring demands or stalling negotiations pressures desperate claimants to accept smaller settlements.

  • Hoping victims drop claims – Extensive delays frequently cause frustrated victims to give up on getting compensation.

  • Assessing legal risks – Insurers use delays to fully weigh potential lawsuit outcomes if negotiations fail.

Ultimately, insurers focus on limiting claim costs, not quickly responding to demand letters.

What Happens if Insurers Don’t Respond?

No laws penalize insurance companies for not responding to demand letters. However, ignoring valid claims comes with risks, including:

  • Lawsuits – Lack of response prompts victims to file lawsuits, costing insurers substantial legal fees.

  • Bad faith claims – Failing to reply demonstrates possible bad faith, resulting in extra damages.

  • Reputational harm – Public knowledge of claim delays hurts the insurer’s customer trust and public image.

Typical Responses to Demand Letters

Though not legally mandated, most insurers eventually respond to avoid the above consequences. Common responses include:


Insurers may refute the allegations and deny any liability. Denials are a common tactic to deter victims from pursuing claims further.

Request for More Time

The company may ask for an extension to continue investigating the demand’s validity. Extra time limits quick settlements.


Insurers often make low counteroffers to begin negotiating a settlement. Counteroffers are typically far below initial demands.


In rare cases, insurers accept liability and agree to the demanded amount. But full demand acceptance almost never happens initially.

Fighting Insurance Company Delays

Victims frustrated by delays in responding to demand letters have options, including:

  • Send follow-up letters – Follow-up letters show you’re serious and restate your demand.

  • Contact insurance departments – State insurance regulators may compel companies to reply to your demand.

  • Hire an attorney – Experienced injury lawyers effectively negotiate with insurers.

  • File a lawsuit – Lawsuits force insurers to address your claim or face harsh penalties.

Key Takeaways

  • No laws specify insurance companies must respond to demand letters within a set timeframe.

  • However, most insurers aim to reply within 30-45 days to legitimate demands.

  • Factors like claim complexity, company resources, and claim value often extend response times.

  • Failing to respond prompts victims to take legal action, harming the insurer.

  • An experienced personal injury attorney can best handle insurance company delays.

How long does an insurance company have to respond to a demand letter?


How long does insurance take to reply?

California Law: How Long an Insurance Company Has to Respond State law says that insurance policyholders are entitled to prompt and timely communications from the insurance company. California gives insurance companies 15 calendar days to issue an initial response after receiving a claim.

How long does an insurance company sends an answer for a claim?

Insurance Claim Timeline in California 40 days to make a decision on the claim after receiving completed proof of loss forms.

How long does an insurer have to respond to a request for information?

The company (and all its representatives) must respond to your communications “immediately, but in no event more than 15 calendar days” with “a complete response based on the facts then known.” Any question you ask, and any request you make must be responded to by the insurer within 15 calendar days.

What can you do if an insurance company is taking too long?

As long as you make your claim within two years, you should be owed a timely and efficient decision on your claim — if not, you may be able to file a bad faith lawsuit against the insurance company for the original settlement amount plus any applicable penalties.

Leave a Comment