Drivers usually have 30 days to report a car accident to their insurance provider. Policies don’t always give a specific timeframe, though, and could simply state that a driver needs to report the accident “promptly.”
You should almost always report accidents to your insurance as soon as possible, since waiting too long could jeopardize a future claim or cause an at-fault driver to lose certain protections. There are certain situations where it might not be necessary, however.
When You Can Skip Notifying Insurance (All Must Be True)
- The accident happened with just your vehicle.
- It was on your property.
- There were no injuries involved.
- The only damage was to your property.
Reporting a Car Accident vs. Filing a Claim
A common misconception is that reporting a car accident to insurance is the same as filing a claim. While filing a claim means you’re making a formal request to an insurance company for compensation, reporting an accident simply means you’re notifying your insurer that it happened.
In most cases, you’ll want to report an accident as soon as possible in order to get the claims process started. But even if you don’t initially plan on filing a claim, you should notify your insurance company just in case you discover additional damage or change your mind.
What Happens If You Delay Reporting a Car Accident?
If you wait too long to report your accident to insurance, it could cause problems down the road. For example, if you don’t initially report but realize later on that you need to file a claim, the insurance company has no way of knowing whether the damage is the result of the accident or something else that happened later. Or, if the accident was your fault and the other driver files a claim against you later on, your insurance company might deny you certain protections because you failed to promptly report.
Even if you don’t think you need to report the accident, it’s always in your best interest to do so. Many insurance companies have mobile apps and 24-hour hotlines to make the reporting process as quick and easy as possible. Also, keep in mind that even though you’re not legally obligated to notify your insurance company after a car accident, most states will require you to at least report it to the police if anyone is injured or if there is a certain amount of property damage.
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