Get wiser about: Time limits on car insurance claims

Time limits on making a car insurance claim

We're here to set the story straight about all-things time-related when it comes to making a claim on your insurance. How soon after an accident do you need to tell your insurer? When will you receive your settlement? Read on for all the answers you need.

What is in this article?

How soon after a car accident do you have to file a claim?
How long will it take to get your claim settled?
How to get your claim settled as quickly as possible
How long does a claim stay on your record?
How long can you take to file a claim for compensation?
How is a compensation settlement calculated? 
How long does it take to get compensation after an accident? 

How soon after a car accident do you have to file a claim?

You must always tell your insurer about a car accident as soon as possible. Ideally, within 24 hours of the accident taking place. If you're making a claim, you will need to check your insurance policy, but most companies demand you claim within two weeks.

If you don't do this, your insurer could invalidate your cover which could leave you with a costly bill; not to mention making your renewal premium rise even further.

On a positive note, remember the quicker you contact your insurer about a claim, the better your chances of getting it settled sooner. 

How long will it take to get your claim settled?

According to the Association of British Insurers (ABI), 98.4% of motor insurance claims were accepted in 2016/17

As you can see, the good news is that if you file a claim there's a decent chance you'll receive a payout for it. The million dollar question is, when will you receive this?

You guessed it, this isn't a straightforward question to answer as it depends on a number of factors:

  • The severity of the collision
  • Whether a third party was involved
  • If anyone was injured?
  • Whether you accept responsibility for the claim being made against you
  • If you've provided all the information your insurer needs 

Simple claims which only involve damage to your car can often be settled within a matter of weeks.

More complicated claims involving issues such as contested liability, a write off, an uninsured driver or whether anyone was injured, may take years.

Read our article on 'What if someone makes a claim against me' for two people's very different claim experiences. 

See how your insurer's claim service compares with others in our claim experience comparison table.

Did you know?

The most expensive insurance claim on record was for actor and petrol head Rowan Atkinson. In 2011, he crashed his Maclaren F1 into a hedge. His insurer had to fork out for a reported £910,000 repair bill. That's hundreds of thousands more than the £540,000 he paid for it in 2007.

Luckily for Rowan, when he sold it in 2015 he got approximately £8 million. Yes, you read that right, £8 million. Not a bad profit!

How to get your claim settled as quickly as possible

Follow these 7 steps to success and you can be confident you've done all you can to ensure a smooth and speedy claim settlement.*

  1. Take photos of the vehicles and/or property involved.
  2. Does your insurer have an App? File your claim there if they do as it will be far quicker than calling them. Plus you can upload all the information they need - including  photographic evidence of any damage to vehicles and / or property.
  3. Gather as much information as you can. Record the name, address and contact number of anyone else involved, witness details and statements, any other vehicles involved and of course, photographs.
  4. Get the other party's insurance details.
  5. Tell the Police.
  6. Be honest. From modifications of your vehicle to your home address no longer matching the address on your driving license, if your insurer doesn't know about these things, you risk invalidating your cover.
  7. Cooperate with your claim adjuster. You want to keep these people on your side, so turn on the charm offensive. Always reply to them when they ask and chase them up if they miss deadlines.

* Obviously depending on the complexity of the claim.

How long does a claim stay on your insurance record?

In general, a car accident will stay on your insurance record for 3 years. However, as always there are one or two 'buts' to consider.

  • Your age
  • Where you live
  • How many previous accidents you've had
  • The severity of the accident (imagine how much Rowan Atkinson's premium rose by!)
  • How long you've been with your provider

But wait! There's a good bit

You may be pleasantly surprised to learn that not all claims make it on to your record, nor do they result in a higher premium at renewal. Bumper damage is a common example of a claim that may not affect the cost of your insurance, even though it may well cost over £1,000.

How long can you take to file a claim for compensation?

If you suffer personal injury after an accident, you have up to 3 years from the date of the incident to file a claim for any resulting injury. This is in accordance with section 11 of the Limitation Act 1980.

The main reason that you have so long to submit your claim, is that some symptoms can take a while to develop, although it's always much easier to prove the link between the accident and your injury if you can let your insurer know as soon as possible.

If you're considering making a personal injury claim, remember to see a Doctor for evidence that your injury is genuine.

For more information on filing a claim for personal injury after a motor accident, we recommend you visit the Citizen's Advice Bureau.

How is a compensation settlement calculated?

The following 5 factors will be taken into consideration.

  1. The severity of your injuries
  2. Type of injury
  3. How the injury affects you on a daily basis
  4. Recovery time
  5. The degree of negligence involved

How long does it take to get compensation after an accident?

Agreeing the settlement for a personal injury is the tricky part. Once that's agreed, you should expect your payout within 14 - 28 days.

Did you know?

In 2012, 829,137** claims were made for personal injury.
That's 2,271 claims a day.  

**Source: Cute injury claims specialists

We hope that you've found this guide useful. We've shared some really important information that we hope you'll never need to use, but it's good to know, just in case you or someone you know needs it one day.. 

READ NEXT: What happens if you need to claim for a car accident whilst you're in Europe?


Please sign in to post a comment.