Is it ever too late to file a claim with your auto or home insurance provider?
This answer may surprise you – in most cases with property and causality insurance (which includes auto insurance and home insurance) it’s actually technically almost never too late to file an insurance claim.
First off, we’d like to make one thing very clear: we strongly recommend that whenever possible you file a claim – or at the very least contact your insurance company – as soon as possible after an incident. There is almost no “downside” to quickly filing a claim, whether you’ve been in a car accident, have suffered damage to your home, or have had some other mishap.
That said, as we stated above, most insurance policies do not put a specific time limit on how long you may take after an incident before you file your claim. Most policies state that claims should be filed “promptly” or “as soon as possible”, but that is usually not further clarified, so in theory, you could argue that a year later is still “as soon as possible” – especially if you can show extenuating circumstances as to why you decide or had to wait to file your claim.
Indeed, when it comes to medical problems as a result of an accident, it is actually quite common to wait weeks if not months before filing a claim, as symptoms may not emerge from an injury until time has passed. For personal injury protection claims, however, there is usually a 2 or 3 year limit to file, and medical payments have a similar time limit of 3 years.
So, what are the possible downsides of not filing your claim as soon as possible? Let’s take a look at a couple of examples.
Let’s say you suffer damage to your home and you wait a long time to file a claim. If you do wait, understand that you need to take precautions to mitigate more damage to you home (for example, if you had a window blown out in a storm, you would need to cover up the area with plastic or plywood to protect the inside of your home) – because your home insurance won’t cover subsequent damage if you don’t take those precautionary steps.
Another negative example might be if you get into a car accident and you don’t have a police report on file. If there is no police report and you wait awhile before filing a claim, then your insurance company may have a harder time tracking down other people involved in the accident for interviews or for other research related to your claim.
So, while it is usually within your rights to procrastinate, we don’t recommend that you do when it comes to filing your insurance claims.