President, Officer Insurance, Nashville, TN
Oh wow, unfortunately there is no black and white answer to this question. It varies drastically from carrier to carrier but also from claim to claim. Your actual claim will determine a lot about how long the process will take to full resolution. If it is a simple "fender bender" where things are pretty cut and dry, you are talking a matter of a couple of days. with our carriers and on claims like this as soon as the field adjustor can get out to inspect the car, they are usually cutting a check on the spot. If seen claims like this close in a day, but also have seem them take a couple of days to close simply due to scheduling issues.
serious claims take longer. If fault is in questions and police reports have to be pulled, this takes time. If there are serious injuries or death, these take a lot of time. Typically you don't have to wait until the claim is settled to start the repairs on your vehicle. If you car is "totaled" you might have to wait until it is settled.
Each claim and carrrier is different and you have the right to stay informed about the process. Your adjustor will no more than your agent so stay in contact with them and ask them direct questions about the length of time things should take and what you should expect during the process.
Contact your local independent agent and ask them specifics on the claims process of their carriers.