How long does one have to make a claim Auto Insurance /US - NJ?
February 18, 2014 6:59 AM   Subscribe

Scenario: Car was hit from the back by an insured driver who took responsibility for the incident. This is noted in the police report. This incident happened 2.5 months ago. No claim was made on the insured driver. The repair is minor (re-paint). Question: Can a claim still be made since the incident happened approx 2.5months ago or is it too late? I wonder if it becomes harder to prove that the damage is because of the incident and not something that happened later (during the 2.5months). Thoughts?
posted by r2d2 to Work & Money (6 answers total)
First off, I would be hesitant to dismiss the repair as "just a re-paint" unless a body shop has actually made that determination in an estimate. We had the same sort of thing happen, and because the bumper on newer cars are made of a composite material it ended up being something like an $800 repair. I believe that bumpers, like helmets, are really only meant to be "used" a limited amount of times.

Did you call your insurance people when it happened? If not, why -- did you think it was just minor? Do you have photos from when it happened?
posted by Madamina at 7:12 AM on February 18, 2014

Typically, as soon as you've been hit, you call your insurance company to let them know. I've done this standing on the side of the road waiting for the police. Give them every bit of information you have, name and license of the other driver, type of vehicle, etc.

You get a claim number and you take your car to the body shop. I use the one at the dealer because they're on my insurance's list of preferred providers, and because it is convenient.

You get the police report number from the officer and give that information to your insurance company.

If you can, take pictures of everyone and everything at the accident, just in case.

If the other driver is at fault, their insurance company will cut a check for your deductible, which you can usually sign over directly to the body shop.

Download your insurance company's app to your phone, and familiarize yourself with the process.

Yes, there would be something weird about not filing a claim ASAP, either with your insurance or with the insurance of the person who hit you and yes, there may be a hassle about the damage, unless the other guy admitted it, and it was specified in the police report.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:18 AM on February 18, 2014

Well. . . you have a contractual duty to notify your insurance carrier "promptly". They prefer right away, but even within a day or two is probably good enough in most cases.

But more than two months? You may have trouble getting coverage for that, as the elapsed time may make it very difficult for the company to conduct a thorough investigation, which it is entitled to do. That's not to say that a denial is guaranteed, as they can only really deny the claim if the delay has prejudiced their position in some way. A delay of that length will make that kind of prejudice pretty easy to establish though.

Assemble all of your documentation and go ahead and file the claim. But don't be surprised if they deny coverage. If they do, there may not be a lot you can do about it at this point.
posted by valkyryn at 7:25 AM on February 18, 2014

Thanks! Just one clarification. I don't plan to make the claim on my insurance. The claim will be on the policy of the individual who hit my car.

Regarding taking photo's. Just curious about how reliable this sort of evidence is. Couldn't someone take pictures at any time and then claim they took it when the accident happened.
posted by r2d2 at 7:27 AM on February 18, 2014

You really should contact your insurance first. The other company will contact them, so it's best to be above board in this.

Also, your insurance company will advocate for you, and beat on the other company to pay.

Photos are good if you can show that the other car was there at the time you took them.

Most companies don't rely on photos, they rely on their claims adjustor's assessment of the damage.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:40 AM on February 18, 2014

Definitely contact your own insurance. You will need their help on this, as the other insurance company will most likely be doing everything they can to keep from paying the claim. I don't know what your insurance company requires but 2 months sounds like a long time to wait.

Also, just because a police officer came on the scene made a report which included taking down your insurance information does not necessarily that that is THE official police report that is required. You may be required to file an additional report. For example, I was rear-ended this summer in Mass. and while I did get a report from the officer on the scene, I was also responsible to file another more extensive accident report with the state's police department which I needed to forward to the insurance company. I believe I supposedly only had a set number of days to submit it to the police department after the accident (5 days? 10 days? I'm not sure.) So you need to check on that as I'd imagine it varies from state to state. I was surprised to find that I need to file a separate police report.

Good luck! For what its worth, I contacted the necessary insurance companies right away and it STILL took me about 4 months to get everything taken care of.
posted by Shadow Boxer at 10:14 AM on February 18, 2014

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