Chelsey Tucker graduated with a Bachelor of History degree from Metropolitan State University in 2019. She now writes about insurance with her specialty being life insurance and has been quoted on Help Smart Phone and MEL Magazine.

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Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years. He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Mar 19, 2020

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The lowdown...

  • Filing a claim is a required step if you want your insurance company to pay benefits related to an accident or another similar event
  • Many car insurance claims must be filed within two to three years from the date of the incident
  • It is best to file a claim as soon as possible in most cases

When you initially shopped around and compared auto insurance rates, you may have purchased car insurance to comply with driving laws in your state. You may have also bought coverage to prevent you from having to pay for all vehicle repairs and other expenses out of your own pocket if you have an accident.

However, many drivers are unaware that car insurance claims must be filed and processed within a state’s statute of limitations.

If you fail to comply with this deadline when filing your claim, there is a solid chance that your claim will not be approved. This can ultimately cost you thousands of dollars or more in out-of-pocket expenses. By learning more about how to file a claim on your auto insurance policy, you can make full use of the coverage you purchased when necessary.

Learn more about filing an auto claim below and make sure to use to our free insurance tool above today!

Learning How to File a Claim


Filing a car insurance claim is a relatively simple process. First, you should contact your insurer or review your policy to ensure that the damage or another type of loss is covered by your policy before you file the claim.

Some people are not aware of the differences in coverage types when they shop around and compare policies, and these individuals may be surprised to learn that their loss event is not covered by their policy.

Filing a claim is usually completed over the phone by calling your insurer’s customer service phone number, but some companies have an online claims process.

In most cases, it only takes a few minutes to complete the claims process, but your insurance company may also ask you to submit pictures you took at the scene of the accident as well as an accident report you received from law enforcement.

Many car insurance claims are processed quickly, and you may be able to start the repair process for your own vehicle within a few days after the event occurs. However, some people prefer to wait to file a claim.

For example, you must pay your insurance deductible each time you file a claim against your auto insurance policy, and you may be inclined to delay the claims process until you have enough money available to pay your claim. This is just one of several reasons why drivers may not file a claim promptly.

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The Typical Deadline to File a Claim

Auto insurance claims typically have a deadline that coincides with the state’s unique statute of limitation laws regarding these incidents. It is important to note that state laws vary from location to location.

For this reason, you should learn more about your unique state’s laws regarding this matter before you procrastinate on filing a claim. The good news is that the statute of limitations in most areas ranges from between two and six years.

Most people will be able to save up enough money to pay a deductible or to address other concerns they have within this rather lengthy period of time. If you intend to delay starting the claims process, however, you should pay close attention to the deadline. Your claim may be denied if it is filed after the deadline.

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Top Reasons Why You Should File a Claim Sooner Rather Than Later

Most people will file a claim sooner rather than later after they are in a car accident simply because they want their car to be repaired quickly. There are also a few other top reasons why it is best to file a claim as soon as possible after you have an accident.

Your Recollection of the Events Can Fade

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As part of the claims process, you will be required to provide your insurance company with firm and accurate details regarding the event. Your recollection of important details may not be as clear or comprehensive if you wait a few months or longer after the accident to file your claim. This could negatively impact the approval of your claim.

Issues With Witnesses

With a minor fender bender, you typically will not have witnesses. However, witnesses are important with more serious matters. Unfortunately, witnesses can move, change phone numbers, or even pass away. There is a greater likelihood of this happening if you want longer to file a claim, and this also could impact the approval of your claim.

The Availability of Evidence

Evidence may also be important when filing some car insurance claims, but evidence may not be as readily available if you procrastinate when filing your claim. For example, pictures of the accident on your smartphone may be lost if you lose or damage your phone or if you accidentally erase the images. This evidence may be crucial to the approval of your claim.

The Ideal Time to File a Car Insurance Claim

The ideal time to file a claim is within a day or two after the accident occurs. Some people will even contact their insurance company the same day if they are not injured, and this is because the details will be fresh in their head.

Remember that you will not receive any insurance proceeds to pay for your vehicle repairs, medical bills, and other related expenses until you file a claim. Therefore, it is in your best interest to file a claim as soon as possible.

While it is within your rights to file a claim at a later date, this is not always ideal. Because this process only takes a few minutes to complete, it is convenient for even busy individuals to do.

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What to Do If Your Claim Is Denied


Some people will, unfortunately, run into issues when filing a claim. For example, you may have waited too long to file a claim, or your insurance company may tell you that your event is not covered by your policy. If you believe that your claim should have been approved, you can take a few important steps to resolve the matter:

  • Contact your state’s insurance department for assistance.
  • Request an arbitration meeting.
  • Seek legal counsel from your attorney.

You may be able to avoid claims issues by looking for a reputable and financially sound insurer. When you request new insurance quotes, avoid opting for the most affordable coverage you can find. Instead, pay attention to the strength and reputation of the company so that you make the best decision possible regarding your coverage.

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