How Long Do I Have to File a Car Insurance Claim?
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If you’ve been in an accident, you must file a claim to receive compensation for costs associated with injuries and property damage—whether you’re at fault or not. If you don’t plan on filing a claim right away, make sure to find out if there’s a car insurance claim time limit. This can vary by state and is important to know so that you don’t miss your opportunity to file a claim and recover your money.
Plus, waiting to file a claim after a car accident can sometimes make it more difficult to win a lawsuit if you have to go to court. The most important thing is to make sure you’re insured to begin with. Maybe you haven’t had time due to your busy schedule or just want to switch to more affordable coverage.
If you have to file a claim following a car accident, keep the following in mind to make sure you don’t miss out on receiving your full compensation.
Is There a Car Insurance Claim Time Limit?
Most car insurance companies don’t have a precise deadline to file an auto insurance claim. In many cases, insurance companies ask that you file a claim within a reasonable amount of time or promptly. Some states, such as a no-fault state like New York, require drivers to file a claim within 30 days of an accident.
The actual time limit to file an auto insurance claim depends in large part on the state in which the accident occurred. For many states, the statute of limitations on a car accident runs out in two years. Some states allow you to wait longer, up to three to four years, and Maine gives you six years to file a claim.
A statute of limitations is in place to protect you in case something is preventing you from filing a claim quickly, such as if there’s an ongoing investigation. In cases such as these, the investigation would have to be completed first in order to determine who is at fault—the responsible party in a court of law.
The First Things You Should Do If You’re in an Accident
The first thing you should do before you even start an accident claim is to report the accident to the police and your insurance company. Many insurance companies require a police report to be filed before they’ll pay for any medical bills or damages. Plus, failure to report the accident to the police can be considered hit and run in some instances.
In addition to your insurance company, you should also talk to the insurance company used by the other party, especially if they’re at fault. You should have this information after exchanging information at the scene of the accident, which you should always do.
Deadlines for Filing a Claim
After you report the accident, you can then file a claim. This is usually a relatively quick process but can vary depending on the parties involved. This timeline can also be dragged out if one or both parties take the other to court.
In some cases, the normal time limit to file a claim might be shorter, such as when the accident involves a vehicle belonging to the city, county, or state government where you live. Make sure to find out as soon as possible to avoid missing out on any special deadlines.
Why You Should File a Claim as Soon as Possible
Another important factor to consider when filing an auto insurance claim is timeliness. By filing as soon as possible, you show that you took any injuries suffered in the accident very seriously. This also prohibits an insurance company from claiming that you made up the injuries or even made them worse by putting off treatment.
Also, the sooner you file a claim, the better the chance that any information in the minds of the police and witnesses will be fresh. It won’t help your case if a witness to the accident can’t remember important details.