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Is there a statute of limitations to file a car insurance claim?


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Question: My sister hit my parked car one year ago and assured me that she will pay to have it fixed, but constantly puts me off. No police report was filed. If she has property damage liability insurance, can I still file a claim with her insurance company? I have insurance myself but have a $500 deductible. Is there a statute of limitation on this for filing this claim?

Answer: State laws vary, but normally there is a statute of limitations in which to file a claim or, if it comes to it, a lawsuit against the responsible party in a motor vehicle accident.

It’s unfortunate that your sister hasn’t made good on her promise to pay for the damages she caused you. While car insurance companies prefer that you make a claim as soon as possible after an accident, the good news is that you should still be able to make a claim for the damages your sister caused a year ago.

Most states give you at least a year to make a property damage claim or file a lawsuit. In many states, you get even more time, from two years to six years, to pursue the responsible party.

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It appears you’re in Florida. This state (per state statute section 95.11) gives you up to four years from the date of your loss to sue for a property damage or bodily injury claim. If you live elsewhere, contact your state’s insurance regulator to find out your state’s statute of limitations.

If you have your sister’s car insurance company information, call them to make your property damage liability claim.  You can expect there to be questions about why it took so long to notify them of the accident with your parked car, so just be honest with them about the situation.

The claims adjuster will likely want to inspect the car to make certain that in the year since the incident you haven’t received more damage that you are trying to get them to pay for. If you have pictures that you took at the time of the accident, it's possible that they could help your claim proceed more quickly.

If your sister won’t give you her insurance information, or you find that she was uninsured when she hit your car, then you could see about making a claim against your own collision coverage. As you mentioned, your $500 deductible would be due, but also you need to check to see if such a claim can still be made.

While state laws have a statute of limitation regarding how long you can go against the at-fault party, with a first-party claim it’s usually up to the provisions of your own car insurance policy.

If you don’t file an auto insurance claim within what is known as the contractual statute of limitations, you may lose all rights to recover for your claim with your insurer. If you believe you will need to make a collision claim, contact your agent.

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