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|
|Georgia||2 years personal injury, 4 years property damage|
|Idaho||2 years personal injury, 3 years property damage|
|Illinois||2 years personal injury, 5 years property damage|
|Kentucky||1 year personal injury, 2 years property damage|
|Minnesota||2 years personal injury, 6 years property damage|
|Montana||3 years personal injury, 2 years property damage|
|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|
|Oregon||2 years personal injury, 6 years property damage|
|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|
|Utah||4 years personal injury, 3 years property damage|
|Virginia||2 years personal injury, 5 years property damage|
|West Virginia||2 years|
|Wisconsin||3 years personal injury, 6 years property damage|
|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.
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|
|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.
TrustedChoice.com Article | Reviewed by Paul Martin
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