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:
StateBodily InjuryProperty/Collision/Comprehensive Damage
Alabama2 years2 years
Alaska2 years2 years
Arizona2 years2 years
Arkansas3 years3 years
California2 years2 years
Colorado3 years3 years
Connecticut2 years2 years
Delaware2 years2 years
Florida4 years4 years
Georgia2 years4 years
Hawaii2 years2 years
Idaho2 years2 years
Illinois2 years5 years
Indiana2 years2 years
Iowa2 years5 years
Kansas1 year2 years
Kentucky1 year2 years
Louisiana1 year1 year
Maine6 years6 years
Maryland3 years3 years
Massachusetts3 years3 years
Michigan3 years3 years
Minnesota6 years6 years
Mississippi3 years3 years
Missouri5 years5 years
Montana3 years2 years
Nebraska4 years4 years
Nevada1 year1 year
New Hampshire3 years3 years
New Jersey2 years6 years
New Mexico3 years4 years
New York3 years3 years
North Carolina3 years3 years
North Dakota2 years2 years
Ohio2 years2 years
Oklahoma2 years2 years
Oregon2 years6 years
Pennsylvania2 years2 years
Rhode Island3 years10 years
South Carolina3 years3 years
South Dakota3 years3 years
Tennessee1 year3 years
Texas2 years2 years
Utah4 years3 years
Vermont3 years3 years
Virginia2 years5 years
Washington3 years3 years
Washington D.C.3 years3 years
West Virginia2 years2 years
Wisconsin3 years3 years
Wyoming4 years4 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.
StateTime Limit
Alabama30 days
Alaska10 days
Arkansas30 days for filing motor vehicle accident report, 90 days for providing your proof of insurance
California10 days
Florida10 days
Illinois10 days
Kentucky10 days
Maryland15 days
Massachusetts5 days
Minnesota10 days
Missouri30 days
Nebraska10 days
New Hampshire15 days
New JerseyImmediately
New MexicoImmediately
New York5 days
North CarolinaImmediately
North DakotaImmediately
Ohio6 months
Oregon3 days
Pennsylvania5 days
Rhode Island21 days
South Carolina15 days
South DakotaImmediately
Tennessee20 days
Texas10 days
Vermont5 days
Washington4 days
West Virginia5 days
Wyoming10 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.
With Jerry, finding that insurance couldn’t be easier!
Jerry is a car insurance broker and comparison shopping app. After a sign-up process that takes less than a minute, you’ll be able to surf insurance quotes from more than 40 of the nation’s top insurers. Jerry does all the work for you—even cancelling your old policy!
The best part about using Jerry? Users saved an average of $879 a year on their car insurance!
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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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