How Much Time Do You Have to File an Insurance Claim after a Car Accident?

(Hint: It depends on the state)

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You’ve recently been involved in a car accident and now you need to file a car insurance claim. That’s no fun, and we sympathize. It’s understandable that while you’re trying to recover from the shock, anger and stress, you might not be able to recall when you need to phone your insurance company. That’s why we’ve put together this handy state-by-state guide for when you just need answers, fast.

What Is the Time Limit to File an Insurance Claim after a Car Accident?

The short answer is, it depends on your state. All states have their own dictated time frames for filing various insurance claims—the fancy official term for this is “statute of limitations.” Basically, each state has its own set of rules you need to follow in order to get everything reported and in motion before it’s too late.

It’s possible that your car insurance company will have its own recommendations for when to file a claim after an accident (it’s usually ASAP), but you really have until your state’s mandatory time limit to do so. Some states have varying time frames for different types of claims, so that’s another important detail to study in regard to your location.

Statutes of limitation typically fall within a 1-year to 10-year range for reporting different types of car insurance claims. Of course, just because you have the option to wait longer to file a claim doesn’t mean you should. Claims made years after an incident may flag an insurance company to potentially conduct a more extensive investigation and be less likely to believe your story. To reduce the risk of being denied reimbursement, it’s always a safer bet to file your claim ASAP.

Here’s a look at a breakdown of state-by-state statutes of limitation for filing car insurance claims. Note the states that have different deadlines for bodily injury and property damage claims.


State Statute of Limitations on Car Insurance Claims
Alabama 2 years
Alaska 2 years
Arizona 2 years
Arkansas 3 years
California 2 years
Colorado 3 years
Connecticut 2 years
Delaware 2 years
Florida 4 years
Georgia 2 years personal injury, 4 years property damage
Hawaii 2 years
Idaho 2 years personal injury, 3 years property damage
Illinois 2 years personal injury, 5 years property damage
Indiana 2 years
Iowa 2 years
Kansas 2 years
Kentucky 1 year personal injury, 2 years property damage
Louisiana 1 year
Maine 6 years
Maryland 3 years
Massachusetts 3 years
Michigan 3 years
Minnesota 2 years personal injury, 6 years property damage
Mississippi 3 years
Missouri 5 years
Montana 3 years personal injury, 2 years property damage
Nebraska 4 years
Nevada 2 years personal injury, 3 years property damage
New Hampshire 3 years
New Jersey 2 years personal injury, 6 years property damage
New Mexico 3 years personal injury, 4 years property damage
New York 3 years
North Carolina 3 years
North Dakota 6 years
Ohio 2 years
Oklahoma 2 years
Oregon 2 years personal injury, 6 years property damage
Pennsylvania 2 years
Rhode Island 3 years personal injury, 10 years property damage
South Carolina 3 years
South Dakota 3 years
Tennessee 1 year personal injury, 3 years property damage
Texas 2 years
Utah 4 years personal injury, 3 years property damage
Vermont 3 years
Virginia 2 years personal injury, 5 years property damage
Washington 3yYears
West Virginia 2 years
Wisconsin 3 years personal injury, 6 years property damage
Wyoming 4 years
Washington, D.C. 3 years

Once you’ve got your time limit locked down, it’s important to schedule a date to get in touch with your insurance company. Allow yourself plenty of time to gather everything you need, such as the other driver’s information and a recap of the incident, before calling them. Also, be aware that the claims process may vary depending on whether you live in a “fault” or “no-fault” state, so it’s important to check out your local government’s website (or pay your local branch a visit in person) for more details.

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What Is the Time Limit to Report a Car Accident?

So now you understand your state’s time frame for filing an insurance claim, but what about reporting the accident itself? While a good rule of thumb is to report any and all accidents ASAP if your car so much as sneezes on another, it’s important to know your state’s specific deadlines. Your state may require reporting to the DMV or the police directly from the scene or immediately following the accident, or it may have different guidelines depending on the extent of the damage.

In certain states, minor accidents that will not result in any car insurance claims may not need to be reported. It’s important to note, however, that most states require you to report accidents that cause injury, death, or at least $1,000 in property damage. Contacting the police right after an accident occurs is typically the smartest move, since certain injuries aren’t obvious while on the scene. Having a police report will also help your case when filing a report with your DMV, and if you choose to file a car insurance claim down the road.

Here’s a look at the state-by-state breakdown of time limits for reporting a car accident. Note that many states have different stipulations depending on the extent of the damage.

State How Long You Have to Report Car Accident
Alabama 30 days
Alaska Immediately if injury/death or $2,000 in property damage, otherwise 10 days
Arizona Immediately/At the scene
Arkansas 30 days if injury/death or $1,000 in property damage
California 10 days if injury/death, $1,000 in property damage or intoxicated drivers
Colorado Immediately/At the scene
Connecticut Immediately if injury/death, 5 days if $1,000 in property damage
Delaware Immediately if injury/death, on public highway and $500 in property damage, or intoxicated drivers and $1,000 in property damage
Florida 10 days if injury/death, $500 in property damage, vehicles requiring towing, commercial vehicles or intoxicated drivers
Georgia Immediately if injury/death or $500 in property damage
Hawaii Within 24 hours if injury/death or $3,000 in property damage
Idaho Immediately if injury/death or $1,500 in property damage
Illinois 10 days if injury/death or $1,500 in property damage
Indiana Immediately if injury/death
Iowa Immediately if injury/death
Kansas Immediately if no police officer at the scene, injury/death, or $1,000 in property damage
Kentucky 10 days if $500 in property damage or injury/death
Louisiana Immediately if injury/death or property damage over $500; within 24 hours if injury/death or property damage over $100
Maine Immediately if injury/death or $1,000 in property damage
Maryland Immediately if intoxicated or unlicensed drivers, hit and run, or public property is damaged; 15 days for injury
Massachusetts 5 days if injury/death or $1,000 of damage
Michigan Immediately if injury/death or $1,000 in property damage, or damage to unattended vehicle/other property
Minnesota 10 days if injury/death or $1,000 in property damage
Mississippi Immediately if injury/death or $500 in property damage
Missouri Immediately if injury/death, $500 in property damage or damage to unattended vehicle/other property
Montana Immediately if injury/death, accident strikes a deceased person, or $1,000 in property damage
Nebraska 10 days if injury/death or $1,000 in property damage
Nevada Immediately/at the scene if no police officer present; 10 days if injury/death or $750 in property damage
New Hampshire 15 days if injury/death or $1,000 in property damage
New Jersey Immediately if injury/death or $500 in property damage
New Mexico Immediately if injury/death or $500 in property damage
New York 10 days if injury/death or $1001 in property damage
North Carolina Immediately if injury/death or $1,000 in property damage
North Dakota Immediately if injury/death or $1,000 in property damage
Ohio 6 months if injury or $400 in property damage
Oklahoma Immediately if injury/death
Oregon 3 days if injury/death, $1,500 in property damage, or any vehicle is towed from scene
Pennsylvania 5 days if death/injury or severe damage to any vehicle
Rhode Island 21 days if death/injury or $3,000 in property damage
South Carolina 15 days if injury/death or $1,000 in property damage
South Dakota Immediately if injury/death, $1,000 in property damage to any one person or $2,000 in total property damage, or damage to a parked vehicle/unattended property
Tennessee 20 days if injury/death or $400 in property damage
Texas 10 days if injury/death or $1,000 in property damage
Utah Immediately if injury/death or $1,500 in property damage
Vermont 3 days if injury/death or $3,000 in property damage
Virginia Immediately if injury/death or any property damage
Washington 4 days if death/injury or $700 in property damage
West Virginia Immediately if injury/death or $500 in property damage
Wisconsin 10 days if injury/death, $200 in government property damage, $1,000 in individual property damage, vehicles are towed from the scene or deer/other wildlife is injured/killed
Wyoming 10 days if injury/death or $1,000 in property damage
Washington, D.C. Mandatory only if property or personal injury liability exceeds $200 (no time frame given)

Whatever your state’s time limit for reporting an accident, it’s always a good practice to do so while the details are still fresh in your mind. Car accidents are stressful enough in the first place, but taking action early is one way to potentially limit any hassles in the aftermath. Plus, the earlier you report the accident, the faster official investigation can begin, and the sooner you can potentially receive reimbursement from your car insurance policy.

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TrustedChoice.com Article | Reviewed by Paul Martin

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