How Long Do You Have to Report a Car Accident to Your Insurance in California?

Do I Have to Tell Insurers About My Wreck? | The Law Offices of Mickey Fine

When you are involved in a car accident, one of the first steps you need to take once you get home is to report the accident to your insurance company. If you wait too long to file a claim, you could lose your right to coverage.

Bakersfield car accident lawyer Mickey Fine has extensive experience dealing with insurance companies after serious accidents have left his clients severely injured. He knows the tactics insurance companies use the reduce and deny valid claims, and he is committed to helping the wrongfully injured obtain the full compensation they need to move forward.

So, how long do you have to report a car accident to your insurance company in California? It depends.

Insurance Companies Set Their Own Deadlines for Claims

While California law establishes deadlines for reporting a car accident to the police and the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), it does not establish a deadline for reporting a car accident to your insurance company. Instead, the deadline for filing a claim is determined by the terms of your auto insurance policy. 

Different insurance companies have different deadlines. Some companies give their policyholders a certain number of days to report an accident (i.e. 30, 60, or 90 days). Others simply state that policyholders must report their accidents “promptly,” “within a reasonable amount of time,” or “as soon as possible.” 

To find out how long you have to file a claim, you will need to review your policy. Some auto insurance policies may include the reporting deadline on the Declarations page (the summary at the front of your policy). But, you may also need to look through your policy to find out how long you have to report your accident. If you can’t find your policy’s reporting deadline on your own, you can ask a lawyer to review your policy for you. 

You Should Always Report a Car Accident to Your Insurance Company As Soon As Possible

Regardless of how long you have to report your car accident to your insurance company, it is always a good idea to file a claim as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the harder it can become to prove your right to coverage. 

One issue you can encounter if you wait is that your insurance company may say it can no longer conduct an adequate investigation. If your insurance company can’t investigate to determine the cause of the accident, it isn’t going to accept liability. You can (and should) hire a lawyer to investigate as well, but this is also something you need to do promptly. 

Another issue you can encounter if you wait is that your insurance company may claim your injuries aren’t accident-related. This has more to do with procrastination in general. If you put off seeing a doctor in addition to putting off contacting your insurance company, your medical records may not prove that you suffered your injuries in the collision. 

5 Important Facts about Reporting a Car Accident to Your Insurance Company

While you should contact your insurance company promptly, you need to be very careful when doing so. Here are five important facts about reporting a car accident to your insurance company in California:

  • You should only report the basic facts. When reporting your car accident, only provide the information you need to provide in order to file a claim. Do not make any assumptions, and do not be shy about saying, “I don’t know.” 
  • You should not admit fault. No matter what happened, you should not say you were at fault (or even that you may have been at fault) in your car accident. Determining the cause of the accident will require a thorough investigation, but this won’t stop your insurance company from using your words against you. 
  • You should get written confirmation. Whether you report your accident over the phone, online, or using an app, try to make sure you get written confirmation. This way, there won’t be any question about whether you reported your accident on time. 
  • You can hire a lawyer to deal with the insurance companies for you. Instead of trying to handle your situation on your own, you can hire a car accident lawyer to help you. Your lawyer will deal with the insurance companies on your behalf, and he or she will fight to make sure you receive the full compensation you deserve. 
  • Reporting your accident is just the start of the process. When you are involved in a car accident, reporting the accident to your insurance company is just the start of the process. You will need to fight to make sure you receive the compensation you deserve, and you will need to be very careful to make sure the insurance companies don’t take advantage of you. 

Call a Bakersfield Car Accident Lawyer for Free

If you’ve been injured in a car accident in Bakersfield, we can handle your insurance claim for you. We have decades of experience, and we have recovered millions of dollars in compensation for our clients. To speak with attorney Mickey Fine about your claim in confidence, call (661) 333-3333 or request a free initial consultation online now.

Car Accident
by Mickey Fine Law
Last updated on - Originally published on