Most drivers in California know very little about the car insurance claims process until they’re involved in an accident. One of the most common uncertainties is how long a person has to file a claim after a collision.
The best way to get the answer to this question is to review your auto insurance policy or contact your provider. The deadline can vary from one insurance company to the next.
The state of California doesn’t have a set time limit for filing a claim with your car insurance company; however, there is a time limit (called the statute of limitations) for filing a personal injury lawsuit. In most cases, this deadline is two years from the date of the accident for injuries and three years for property damage. If you intend to sue a government entity, you only have six months to file.
If you try to file a lawsuit after the statute of limitations has expired, the court will most likely dismiss your case.
The smartest approach is to file your car accident claim as soon as possible. Contact your insurance company immediately after your collision. If you wait too long, your insurer may argue that your own negligence contributed to the extent of your injuries (for example, if you did not seek medical attention) or that your injuries were caused by something else.
Do I Need To Report Every Car Accident?
According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, you are only required to report accidents that cause property damage of $1,000 or more ($750 if your crash occurred before Jan. 1, 2017), or if a person was injured or killed in the crash. You must submit your report within 10 days of the collision—even if you did not cause the accident.
When Could My Car Insurance Not Cover My Damages?
It’s an unfortunate fact that many drivers in California who file accident claims end up finding out that their insurance company won’t cover their losses. It is important that you know the reasons why insurance companies deny claims so you can take steps to put yourself in a favorable position if you ever have to file.
Common reasons why auto insurance companies deny claims include:
- Your total losses were less than your deductible;
- The cause of your damages was not a covered peril;
- You lied on your auto insurance application;
- You failed to pay your premiums;
- You violated the terms of your car insurance policy by committing a traffic offense;
- You waited too long to submit your claim; or
- The vehicle you were driving was not insured.
There are many other reasons why auto insurance companies dispute claims. For instance, if you and the other drivers involved have different accounts of what happened and you don’t have evidence to support your claim, it might be difficult to recover the compensation you deserve. This is why it’s so important that you contact the police so an officer can compile an accident report. You should also record the contact information of eyewitnesses and take photos that show the positions of vehicles, injuries, property damage, traffic signs, the intersection (if applicable), and skid marks.
If you have any insights to add, feel free to leave a comment below.