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How much time do you have to report a claim?

by Amy
(Philadelphia, PA)

Back on Christmas Eve, It was a freezing rain and snowy day. It was about 5 pm and I was making a quick stop at a supermarket before going to a family dinner. As I was entering the parking lot, I saw a car pulling away from the loading area, it was headed in a cross path with myself.

We were about equal distance from an intersection in the parking lot. Neither one of us had a stop sign. I chose to put on the brakes and let the other car. But I started sliding. I slide into the other cars passenger side door. I parked the car and got out to speak with the other driver.

As soon I wanted to exchange information with her, she immediately didn't want to give me her information, saying she didn't want to involve insurances. She said she would take care of the problem herself. I had already given her my name and phone at this time. She then left.

At first glance in the dark, no there was no visible sign of damage to my car. I left. In daylight the next day I noticed that hood of my car was crooked. At the family dinner, an uncle advised for my to go and get an estimate from my mechanic on the cost of repair, if cost more than $500 I should report the claim but if it was under I should get it fixed myself.

I took it to my mechanic after the holiday and he gave me the estimate of $300 but said he would need 2 - 3 days to make the repairs. I waited until Feb. to bring it to him when I had couple of days off and I wouldn't need the car. After he spent more time with the car, he said the repait was complicated than he thought and he couldn't fix it. The car was fine to drive, so I've been driving it.

I thought it was too late to report anything so I didn't. There was never a police report made, I only knew the nickname of the other driver. She did call me in Jan. and asked me for $900 to repair her car. When I told her we should report to the insurance company, she hung up. But as more time passes, I wish I had reported it and got the repairs to my car.

Can I still report it?


Hello Amy,

Most likely yes. You can always report a claim and the insurance company will investigate coverage. The better question is if it will be covered? As you know, you have duty to report losses (see link below), and some insurance companies are very picky about making sure you report within a "reasonable time." That is part of the problem, what is a reasonable time? It's up to dispute, some argue 30 days, some argue 6 months. However, most statute of limitations for a contract claim (the insurance policy is a contract is about 6 years), so again, was this reasonable? You will argue that it is.

Insurance companies really struggle with coverage mainly because evidence becomes scare, memories fade, and the investigation is much more difficult. If you did not have any policy lapses, and you have full coverage during the entire time you own this vehicle, then the insurance company can help you get this claim covered.

Do not be scare by our answer into thinking that this will be a big issue (although it could be). You might simply file a claim, they ask why the delay, and then pay for your damage, as simple as that.

for more information, please see:

Good Luck,

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