After a car accident, there are many factors to consider from medical care and time off work to new transportation. Time is of the essence on all claims, so don’t wait to let your insurance carrier know what happened. Here is everything you need to know about car insurance claim time limits so you can make sure you receive the benefits you’re entitled to.
What Is a Car Insurance Claim Time Limit?
A car insurance claim time limit is the period following an accident in which you can submit a claim to your insurance carrier. While you should file as soon as possible, you may only have hours or days to notify your agent of the incident if you expect to receive a payout for repairs or replacement.
Whether you’re filing a claim with your car insurance company or a third-party claim with the at-fault driver’s carrier, there are two dates to consider, the report date and the claim date. While your insurer will want you to report accidents within days, you may have years to submit your request.
When is a Car Insurance Claim Time Limit Important
It may be tempting to delay filing your claim. However, resist that urge. Even if you’re not confident that you know the full extent of your vehicle’s damage or all of your potential medical issues, it’s wise to get the process started immediately.
If it does slip your mind, how long can you wait to file? Some auto insurance policies stipulate that you report accidents “promptly.” Unfortunately, that word can mean something different to every driver. Does that advice mean “while you’re still at the scene,” or is next month all right?
It’s a good practice to notify the police within 24 hours of your accident. The officer will document what happened and provide a report number. When you call for help right away, the event’s details will be fresh in your mind, and officers can also speak with witnesses who may linger near the scene.
How Long After an Accident Can You Get Medical Attention?
If you have an accident, go to the hospital within the first 72 hours for an assessment. Accident-related injuries may take time to surface, so even if you don’t believe you’re seriously injured, it’s a good idea to get checked out by a medical professional anyway.
If your injuries are minor or less apparent, it is possible to see a doctor up to two weeks after the accident and still be within most car insurance claim time limits for eligible reimbursement. After this timeframe has passed, your provider may have the right to deny you compensation.
Statute of Limitations for Lawsuits
Every state has different rules about how long you can file a property damage and personal injury lawsuit after an accident. Depending on the damage and where your collision occurred, that timeframe can be as short as 12 months or up to 10 years. However, most states give drivers between 2 and 3 years to go to court after a collision.
If you want to explore the possibility of suing another party, you have to take action before the statute of limitation expires. Here are the bodily injury and property damage lawsuits time limits, respectively, by state:
- Alabama (2 years)
- Alaska (2 years)
- Arizona (2 years)
- Arkansas (3 years)
- California (2 years and 3 years)
- Colorado (2 years)
- Connecticut (2 years)
- Delaware (2 years)
- District of Columbia (3 years)
- Florida (4 years)
- Hawaii (2 years)
- Hawaii (2 years)
- Idaho (2 years and 3 years)
- Illinois (2 years and 5 years)
- Indiana (2 years)
- Iowa (2 years and 5 years)
- Kansas (2 years)
- Kentucky (1 year and 2 years)
- Maine (6 years)
- Maryland (3 years)
- Massachusetts (3 years)
- Michigan (3 years)
- Minnesota (2 to 6 years and 6 years)
- Mississippi (3 years)
- Missouri (5 years)
- Montana (3 years and 2 years)
- Nebraska (4 years)
- Nevada (2 years and 3 years)
- New Hampshire (3 years)
- New Jersey (2 years and 6 years)
- New York (3 years)
- North Carolina (3 years)
- North Dakota (6 years)
- Ohio (2 years)
- Oklahoma (2 years)
- Oregon (2 years and 6 years)
- Pennsylvania (2 years)
- Rhode Island (3 years and 10 years)
- South Carolina (3 years)
- South Dakota (3 years and 6 years)
- Tennessee (1 year and 3 years)
- Texas (2 years)
- Texas (2 years)
- Utah (4 years and 3 years)
- Vermont (3 years)
- Virginia (2 years and 5 years)
- Washington (2 to 3 years)
- West Virginia (2 years)
- Wisconsin (3 years and 3 to 6 years)
- Wyoming (4 years)
What if You File Your Claim Late?
If months go by before you notice an issue with your car or your injuries become apparent over time, it is still worth your while to file a claim. Your insurance carrier’s adjuster will be diligent about determining if the damage or medical condition you report genuinely came from the accident. However, the longer you wait to file your claim, the more likely a provider will deny it.
What to do Before Your Car Insurance Claim Time Limit Expires
While every auto insurer is a bit different, there are a few common steps you can take if you’re in a fender bender. Follow these tips to help prepare to file your claim, even if you weren’t at fault:
- Call 911 to make sure everyone involved is safe and necessary medical providers are notified and en route.
- Record the names, contact information, and insurance providers of everyone involved.
- Take photos and record details of the accident, like the order of events, location and weather.
- Help the police document the accident for their report. You’ll need this to file a claim.
- Log on to your insurance company’s app and follow the steps to report the accident and start your claim.
- Help your claims adjuster by cooperating throughout the investigation process.
- Make copies of all documentation, including medical bills and repair estimates.
The days and weeks after an accident can feel overwhelming. Taking the time to understand how car insurance claim time limits work can help ease the transition so you can focus on getting back to normal as quickly as possible.
At FIXD, our mission is to make car ownership as simple, easy, and affordable as possible. Our research team utilizes the latest automotive data and insights to create tools and resources that help drivers get peace of mind and save money over the life of their car.