How Long After a Car Accident Can You File a Claim?
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The time limit for filing a claim for car insurance varies by state, with a range of between a year to as long as a decade. Time limits can also vary by jurisdiction within states for different types of claims, such as comprehensive or injury damage claims.
Hopefully, you’ll never need to file a car insurance claim and are destined for a life of safe, accident-free driving. But even still, you need car insurance to protect you just in case you’re involved in a collision and need to file a claim.
Jerry is the easiest way to buy great car insurance at an affordable price. Sign up takes a mere 45 seconds, and then Jerry generates competitive quotes from the country’s top insurers for you to choose from. There are no forms, phone calls, or hassles, and Jerry will even cancel your old policy for you!
Of course, if you ever do have to file a claim, Jerry is there for you. Here’s what you need to know about car insurance claim time limits.
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How long to wait before filing a lawsuit or a claim
If you’re set on filing a claim, you must do so within your state’s statute of limitations, or the time allotted to file a claim. Every state has different rules, so it is best to ask your insurer what the time limits are in the state where you live.
Keep in mind, you’re insurer may tell you to file your claim as soon as possible—but this is not a hard and fast rule.
Sometimes, injuries or damage take weeks, months, or sometimes years to reveal themselves. So long as you file within your state’s allotted time limits, you should be able to proceed with your claim.
Key Takeaway Statutes of limitations vary between states, so check with your insurer about the time limits for filing a claim in your state.
Filing a claim may be harder if you wait too long
Insurers may raise a suspicious eyebrow about claims filed long after an accident, even if injuries or damage to your car took time to appear.
If you file a claim well after an accident took place but still within your state’s statute of limitations, be prepared to answer some questions about why you’re filing at that particular moment in time. If your insurer doubts the veracity of your story, they’ll likely deny your claim.
If you’re filing a bodily injury claim, there is typically a limit to abide by. That being said, there may be different time limits if you’re filing a claim for:
- Property damage to another car
- Collision damage for your car
- Comprehensive damage (from vandalism, theft, or weather) to your car
Here’s a breakdown of those time limits for each state:
|State||Bodily Injury||Property/Collision/Comprehensive Damage|
|Alabama||2 years||2 years|
|Alaska||2 years||2 years|
|Arizona||2 years||2 years|
|Arkansas||3 years||3 years|
|California||2 years||2 years|
|Colorado||3 years||3 years|
|Connecticut||2 years||2 years|
|Delaware||2 years||2 years|
|Florida||4 years||4 years|
|Georgia||2 years||4 years|
|Hawaii||2 years||2 years|
|Idaho||2 years||2 years|
|Illinois||2 years||5 years|
|Indiana||2 years||2 years|
|Iowa||2 years||5 years|
|Kansas||1 year||2 years|
|Kentucky||1 year||2 years|
|Louisiana||1 year||1 year|
|Maine||6 years||6 years|
|Maryland||3 years||3 years|
|Massachusetts||3 years||3 years|
|Michigan||3 years||3 years|
|Minnesota||6 years||6 years|
|Mississippi||3 years||3 years|
|Missouri||5 years||5 years|
|Montana||3 years||2 years|
|Nebraska||4 years||4 years|
|Nevada||1 year||1 year|
|New Hampshire||3 years||3 years|
|New Jersey||2 years||6 years|
|New Mexico||3 years||4 years|
|New York||3 years||3 years|
|North Carolina||3 years||3 years|
|North Dakota||2 years||2 years|
|Ohio||2 years||2 years|
|Oklahoma||2 years||2 years|
|Oregon||2 years||6 years|
|Pennsylvania||2 years||2 years|
|Rhode Island||3 years||10 years|
|South Carolina||3 years||3 years|
|South Dakota||3 years||3 years|
|Tennessee||1 year||3 years|
|Texas||2 years||2 years|
|Utah||4 years||3 years|
|Vermont||3 years||3 years|
|Virginia||2 years||5 years|
|Washington||3 years||3 years|
|Washington D.C.||3 years||3 years|
|West Virginia||2 years||2 years|
|Wisconsin||3 years||3 years|
|Wyoming||4 years||4 years|
Keep in mind, you’ll have to file a claim under your collision or personal injury protection (PIP) policy before filing a claim against an at-fault driver within a no-fault state.
If you end up suffering long-term or prolonged injuries and your treatment costs are more than your policy provides coverage for, you can then pursue the at-fault driver—even in a no-fault state.
Key Takeaway Waiting to file a claim can make things more complicated and you may have to answer some questions from your insurance company.
How long should you wait before reporting an accident to the police?
How much time you’ve got to report a collision to the police varies on a state-to-state basis. Most states make it mandatory to report any accident in which there is bodily injury involved or there is property damage assessed upwards of $2,000.
Still, it’s a good rule of thumb to report any accident as soon as possible to the police. This is because insurers use police reports as evidence in assessing who is at fault in an accident.
The following list offers time restrictions for each state when it comes to reporting an accident to the police. If your state requires immediate reporting, that typically means you’ll be calling from the collision scene.
|Arkansas||30 days for filing motor vehicle accident report, 90 days for providing your proof of insurance|
|New Hampshire||15 days|
|New York||5 days|
|Rhode Island||21 days|
|South Carolina||15 days|
|West Virginia||5 days|
Car insurance with Jerry
Ideally, filing a car insurance claim is something other people do—not you! But in the event you do need to file a claim, you’ll want to make sure you have an excellent car insurance policy backing you up.
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Frequently asked questions
Is there a time limit to claim on car insurance?
Yes, there are different time limits—or statutes of limitations—in every state. The time limits often vary depending on whether you’re filing a claim for bodily injury versus a collision, comprehensive, or property damage claim. The time limits for each state are listed in the table above for your reference.
How long does an auto insurance company have to settle a claim?
Most states require that claims be settled between 30 and 45 days, but certain types of claims may take longer to settle. For example, a personal injury claim with significant medical bills will usually take longer to settle than a minor property damage claim.
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