Insurance is primarily regulated on an individual state by state basis, but there are some federal laws which serve as blanket regulations to protect consumers. One of those federal laws is the Unfair Claims Settlement Practices Act, and it is meant to protect your right to a reasonably fast settlement.
When you notify your insurance company that you need to file a claim, the company is allowed 10 days in order to get you the necessary forms and provide you with assistance in filling them out. Once those documents have been filed, the clock starts ticking for the insurance company.
Within 15 days of receiving the properly completed documentation, the insurance has to make a decision on whether to accept or deny the claim, and provide you with that decision. Unless an investigation is required, you should receive the settlement payment within 30 days of claim acceptance. If the claim requires additional investigation, you will be notified of that at this time, and may be given an estimated date of completion.
If the claim is being investigated, the insurance company is not required to settle within 30 days. The case will remain active until it has been resolved, and this should take several weeks or even months. If you have outstanding costs related to the claim, such as having emergency repairs made, you may be provided a partial settlement for those costs while the full settlement is being investigated.
In the case of a total loss related to fire, the insurance company investigation may be rather lengthy. If arson is suspected, the investigation will work closely with local law enforcement, and may include many types of investigation. In this circumstance, the insurance is not obligated to pay a settlement until they have been assured that you are not personally responsible for the damages.