Can an Insurance Company Deny Your Claim If You Don't Report the Damage for a Few Months?

by Mary Jane Freeman
Insurance companies prefer that vehicle damage be reported immediately.

Auto insurance companies will often accept a late claim for vehicle damages. However, the claim may subsequently be denied or limited if the carrier is unable to verify important information as a result of the delay, such as fault, identity of other drivers or witnesses involved, and exact cause of the damage.

Timely Filing

Although the policies of insurance companies differ, many recommend filing a claim for damage to your vehicle as soon as possible. Immediately or shortly after the damage occurred is preferable; however, your claim is not likely to be rejected simply because it was submitted a few months late. On the other hand, if your policy includes language requiring claims to be submitted within a specific period of time, you may be barred from submitting a claim or your claim may be denied if you file outside of the prescribed window.

Problems With Late Filing

Even if your late claim is accepted, the delay may result in your insurer being unable to adequately assess the damage or contact any other parties involved or witnesses. For example, your insurance company may be unable to determine what damage to your car resulted from the accident or other incident, such as vandalism, versus a subsequent event. If too much time has passed, the carrier may be unable to locate the other driver involved, hindering its ability to determine fault or retrieve any money paid out to you from an appropriate third party. Therefore, if your late filing prohibits your insurance company from adequately processing the claim, it may result in denial or a reduced payout.

About the Author

Based on the West Coast, Mary Jane Freeman has been writing professionally since 1994, specializing in the topics of business and law. Freeman's work has appeared in a variety of publications, including LegalZoom, Essence, Reuters and Chicago Sun-Times. Freeman holds a Master of Science in public policy and management and Juris Doctor. Freeman is self-employed and works as a policy analyst and legal consultant.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images