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Q

How long can you wait before filing an insurance claim after a car accident if nobody else was involved and you live in the state of California?


A

Most all insurance contracts contain provisions stating how long you have to file a claim or suit against the company. This is known as a Contractual statute of limitations. If you do not file a claim or a lawsuit within this time period, you may lose all rights to recover for your claim.

For example, your policy may state that you have one year from the date the claim arose (the date the injury or accident occurred), or from the date the claim was filed, or from the date the claim was denied, to file suit.

In California there is a fair claims settlement regulation in place for consumers. Section 2695.4 notes that every insurer shall disclose first party claimant or beneficiary, all benefits, coverage, time limits or other provision of any insurance policy issued by that insurer that may apply to the claim presented by the claimant. When additional benefits might reasonably be payable under an insured's policy upon receipt of additional proofs of claim, the insurer shall immediately communicate this fact to the insured and cooperate with and assist the insured in determining the extent of the insurer's additional liability.

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So you need to read through your policy and/or speak to your agent to determine how long you have to make a Collision or Comprehensive (depending upon how the damage was done) claim for your single car accident.

It is a good idea to file your claim as soon as you can. If you wait to place a claim with your insurance company or a third party claim with another insurer, you may need to explain on why there was the delay. Also the adjuster may want to take a more comprehensive look at your vehicle to make sure no other damage was done after the accident and before the claim was placed.


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