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How long after a car accident can you file a claim?

Usually, you have either 30 or 90 days to make a claim and up to 2 years to file a lawsuit against your insurer.

If you’ve recently been in a car accident, your first concern might be getting car repairs and medical bills paid so you can get back to everyday life. But when it comes to making a claim or talking to a lawyer, it might be better to wait to make sure you can pay for long-term medical bills or damage to your car that’s not apparent at first glance.

How long you have to file a claim in your province or territory

Each province and territory imposes its own time limits on filing insurance claims or lawsuits after car accidents. Time limits vary based on whether you’re notifying your insurer of an accident, submitting a claim or taking legal action against your insurer regarding a claim dispute.

Must read: A note about the time frames listed below

We’ve designed the chart below according to the best information we could find on provincial and territorial regulations regarding time limits applied to auto insurance claims.

This is only meant to serve as a guideline. You should consult a lawyer for advice if you’re considering taking any legal action. Lawyers are experts on provincial and territorial laws and they should be able to guide you through responding to an auto accident or collision.

Apart from the provincial/territorial guidelines below, your time limits to file auto insurance claims could also be affected by policies set out by your private insurer. Speak to a representative of your auto insurance provider or provincial/territorial Ministry of Transportation to find out which specific deadlines apply to you.

LocationTime to notify auto insurer of accidentTime to submit a claimTime following an accident to take legal action against an insurer
Alberta30 days90 days2 years
British Columbia24-48 hours30 days2 years
Manitoba24 hoursMPI will assign an adjuster to assess your claim after you report the accident.2 years
New Brunswick(Unknown – see your policy for details)90 days2 years
Newfoundland and Labrador(Unknown – see your policy for details)90 days2 years
Northwest Territories(Unknown – see your policy for details)30 days2 years
Nova Scotia(Unknown – see your policy for details)90 days3 years
Nunavut24 hours30 days2 years
Ontario7 days30 days2 years
Prince Edward Island(Unknown – see your policy for details)90 days2 years
Quebec(Unknown)3 years to file a claim with the SAAQYou have 60 days following receipt of the SAAQ’s compensation decision to contest it.
Saskatchewan7 daysSGI Canada will assign an adjuster to assess your claim after you report the accident.2 years
Yukon24 hours30 days2 years

Pros and cons of waiting to file an insurance claim

If your accident results in extensive injuries, weigh out the pros and cons of waiting to file.

Pros

  • Get a more comprehensive claim. Most providers won’t allow you to file more than one claim for one accident, and if they do, the process can be much more complex.
  • Get a second opinion from doctors. Waiting to file can buy you time to consult with more than one doctor to better assess your medical situation. This can save you trouble in the long run, both in terms of your health and how much your medical care costs you.
  • Make the most of your available coverage. It’s possible that if you rush to file your claim, you’ll forget or miss an item that insurance would have covered if you had the chance to look through your claim again.

Cons

  • Longer wait before reimbursement or payment. Depending on your circumstances, you might need your claim paid out sooner rather than later. When you wait to file, that just delays the claims process.
  • Possible late bill payments. If you wait too long to file and it delays the payment of important charges or bills, you might get reported for a past-due payment to a credit reporting agency. If this happens, it could have a negative impact on your credit score.

Should I wait to make a personal injury claim?

If you or your passengers are injured in a car accident, symptoms can take weeks or even months to fully develop. The full effects of a head injury, for example, might not become evident until the injured person returns to everyday life.

If you file for a claim before you know the full extent of injuries from an accident, you could end up losing out on coverage that you’ll need in the coming weeks and months. Filing multiple claims can also make the process more difficult, if your insurance provider allows for them at all.

Injuries that don’t always show symptoms right away could include:

  • Head trauma. Because of the delicate and intricate nature of the human brain, it’s difficult to predict how head injuries will affect a person’s health. While immediate signs of injury might appear after an accident, other signs and symptoms of larger issues can present themselves weeks or even months after an injured person is given the all-clear by a doctor.
  • Delayed pain and whiplash. The forces of impact can put serious stress on muscles and tendons that you may not notice until a few days after an accident. Even a small muscle or ligament tearing could require a doctor’s attention.
  • Small fractures. It’s not uncommon for a partial or minor fracture to go unnoticed, especially when it’s thrown into the mix with other large or more painful injuries. Stresses on a fractured bone during the healing processes can cause further damage, making it all the more important for you to account for all injuries before filing a claim.
  • Internal injuries. Your internal organs aren’t exempt from being knocked around, getting bruised or even getting ruptured in the forces of a car crash. Symptoms from an internal injury could also take a while to show up — for example, your spleen or appendix could be damaged and continue to swell or even burst weeks after an impact, with or without pain beforehand. It’s a good idea to keep your doctor in the loop about any pain or symptoms you’re experiencing after a crash that could point to injuries beneath the surface.

Should I wait to make a property damage claim?

After a car accident, the car’s body damage is usually easy to see — scraped paint, crumpled metal, broken glass and so on. But significant issues with the exhaust, suspension or alignment? Those things could possibly go unnoticed until days or even weeks after the repairs are supposedly complete.

A mechanic will be able to find anything wrong with the vehicle that might not be obvious at first glance. If you do need the help of a mechanic or body shop, it’s good to check whether the repair work you need done is eligible under your policy.

Rate increase after a claim? Compare free car insurance quotes online

Name Product Accident Forgiveness Min. Liability Coverage Discounts Available Online Claims Available Provinces
Surex Auto Insurance
Yes
$1,000,000
Up to 25%
Alberta, Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Nunavut, Ontario, Yukon
Submit one application and receive quotes from 10+ insurers. Save up to 25% on your car insurance, plus get access to an insurance advisor.

Who it might be good for: Drivers looking to use an insurance broker to compare multiple pricing and coverage options.
Sonnet Auto Insurance
Yes
Varies by Province
Up to 25%
Alberta, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, PEI, Quebec
Get auto insurance with Sonnet in just five minutes. Save up to 25% on your auto insurance through discounts and bundling options.

Who it might be good for: Drivers looking to apply and manage their car insurance completely online.
Onlia Car Insurance
Yes
$1,000,000
Over $500*
Ontario
Get premium auto insurance coverage with Onlia. Save money on your auto insurance through safe driving discounts and bundling insurance options.

Who it might be good for: Drivers in Ontario looking to save on insurance costs by driving safely.
Intact Car Insurance
Yes
$1,000,000
Up to 25%
Alberta, Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Nunavut, Ontario, Yukon
Get car insurance with Intact and enjoy a quick turnaround on any lodged claims. Get a free quote through Surex.

Who it might be good for: Drivers looking to get rewarded for good driving behaviour.
Aviva Car Insurance
Yes
$1,000,000
Up to 25%
Alberta, Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Nunavut, Ontario, Yukon
Aviva car insurance offers customizable policies, discounts and optional insurance coverage add-ons. Get a free quote through Surex.

Who it might be good for: Drivers looking to customize their auto policy.
Travelers Car Insurance
Yes
$1,000,000
Up to 25%
Alberta, Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Nunavut, Ontario, Yukon
Travelers auto insurance offers a selection of coverage options for just about any type of vehicle. Get a free quote through Surex.

Who it might be good for: Drivers looking to get car, motorcycle, classic car, motorhome or recreational vehicle coverage.
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Compare up to 4 providers

Bottom line

If you’re injured or your property is damaged in a car accident, it can take weeks or even months to assess the true cost of fixing what’s wrong.

Waiting before filing your claim or lawsuit with your insurer might help you get the coverage you’ll ultimately need. But if you exceed your province or territory’s legal limitation for bringing an action against an insurer, you could completely miss out on filing your claim or settlement, leaving you to shoulder the entire financial burden yourself.

Check out our detailed guide on car insurance to learn more.

Common questions about timing your claim

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