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I had a car accident a year ago, is it too late to put in a claim...maybe

Car accidents are traumatic events that can end up changing the course of your life. They may lead to some severe injuries or severe damages to your car. However, did you know that amidst the anguish of nursing injuries, you are supposed to file a claim with your insurance within a specified period? Surprising, yeah!


Imagine you have just fractured your collar bone in a deadly collision, and rather than worrying about how you’ll recover and when you’ll get back to work, you find yourself wondering when you’ll get out of the hospital to file a claim with your insurer. As weird and disappointing as this seems, filing your claims in due time is essential.


How Long Do You Have Before You File a Claim with Your Insurance After an Accident?


There is no universal deadline for filing your claim, and car accident claim limits differ from one state to the next. Actually, some states have enacted laws knows as statutes of limitations to stipulate precisely when you're required to file your claim.


For instance, in New York, car owners have 30 days after the accident to claim coverage from their insurance, unless you can provide a valid reason, like being in a coma! Additionally, the time limit may vary depending on the claim type. For instance, the time limit for a comprehensive claim may differ from a property damage or injury claim.


Besides the state limits, individual insurance companies also have their sets of timelines within which policyholders must file their claims. And although they are often shorter than most states’ statutes of limitations, most insurers don’t mind the delay on these timelines as long as you’re within the state’s limits. However, if you happen to exceed the limits sets by your jurisdiction, the insurance may deny your claim unless you can provide a perfect reason why you waited that long.


When it comes to filing a claim for either injury, property damage, or comprehensive, most states have statutes of limitations that range from one to 5 years. For most states, though, the time limit to file your claim between two and three years. It seems like car owners have a lot of time to file their claims from the look of things. So, staying for one year before filing your claims is not that bad.


Why Filing Your Claim Early is Essential?


Insurance companies don’t ask you to file your claims early just to look nice! The basis for filing your claim early is that you help the insurance company investigate your claim when the details of the accidents are still fresh. Although your insurer is obliged to pay for any losses you’ve incurred, it’s is your responsibility as a policyholder to give them time and freedom to confirm the claimed damages and uncover what really transpired. The more you delay your claim, the harder it will be for the insurance company to verify your injuries and get to the bottom of the matter.


For example, let’s assume that your accident involved someone denting the back of your car as you were getting out of the mall's parking lot. Upon noticing the damage, you came out of your car, took lots of pictures, and even asked the building management to provide you with a time-stamped CCTV footage showing the driver ramming the back of your vehicle. But since you don’t use the car that much, you decided to wait and file your claim later.

After one year, you decide to file the claim by submitting all the evidence to your insurance company. If the statute of limitations in your state is one year, and you filed the claim after 12 months, you might be safe but not out of the woods.


The insurance company may try to deny the claim, siting the delayed reporting. They will argue that by delaying the vehicle damage claim, you interfered with their investigative process. For this reason, they were not able to assess the damage claims or even trace the responsible party.


Your Claim can be Denied if the Delay Harmed the Insurer in Any Way.


Often, insurance companies use the time limit to claim prejudice. Wait, this term actually means that they claim the delay harmed them in some way. However, if you get clever and produce the original surveillance footage and then get in touch with the driver who rammed your car, the carrier will not have any ground to deny your claim.

While a delayed claim may be a pertinent issue to insurance companies, it is not enough reason to deny your claim. There is no way an insurer will deny you coverage based on the technicalities of submitting your claim late. The only time they can do this is if you somehow made it hard for them to prove the damages or even verify the circumstances that led to the accident by failing to submit the claim on time. If some company denies your claim just because you waited for a more extended period to tell your insurer, you can call the most respected lawyer in your jurisdiction and sue them and for acting in bad faith.


What if You Claimed After 6 Years?


Typically, the statute of limitations in many states ranges from 1 to 5 years. So, if you bring your claim to the insurer after six years, it might be correct to say that you may be out of luck. And it won’t matter the state you’re in. You might try to contact your insurer, but there’s a high chance that they will through your claim out without any regret.

However, if you have a few tricks up your sleeves and plenty of evidence, you can try to follow up. You’ll need to prove why it took you that long to file the claim, and you also need objective evidence to assert that the said damages emanated from that accident and not another one.


The Takeaway


No matter how minor an accident seems, it is vitally essential that you make it a habit to make a claim right away if you're in the suitable condition to do so. Some of the smallest issues that we sweep under the rock end becoming severe problems. The baseline is, delaying your claim doesn’t outrightly mean that your claim will be denied. But it gives the insurer a higher chance of proving that your lateness affected their ability to assess and confirm damages. So, the best solution is to file your claims as early as possible after the accident.

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