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

After an accident, the time limit to file a claim depends the damages.

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If you’ve recently been in a car accident, your first concern might be getting car repairs paid so you can get back to everyday life.

But in some cases, when it comes to making a claim it might be better to wait.

In the UK claims can be made up to three years after the accident occurred, although this can vary from provider to provider.

How long should I wait before filing a claim?

Generally speaking, filing a claim as soon after an accident as possible helps your insurer to pay all the bills and expenses from your accident more quickly. Claims take time to process, so the sooner you file, the sooner you’ll probably see a reimbursement or payment from your provider.

Should I wait to file an insurance claim?

It’s worth weighing up 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.
  • 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.

Bottom line

If your vehicle 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 with your insurer might help you get the coverage you’ll ultimately need. For more information on everything to do with auto coverage, you can read our comprehensive guide to car insurance.

Frequently asked questions

Finder survey: Has your car ever been involved in an accident or broken down?

ResponseMaleFemale
Yes46.74%42.02%
No36.68%32.38%
N/A I don't have a car16.58%25.6%
Source: Finder survey by Censuswide of 1032 Brits, December 2023
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*Based on data provided by Consumer Intelligence Ltd, www.consumerintelligence.com (Feb ’24). 51% of car insurance customers could save £561.39

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