Is There a Time Limit on Reporting a Comprehensive Insurance Claim?

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Comprehensive insurance covers non-accident-related damage, such as a chipped windshield.
Comprehensive insurance covers non-accident-related damage, such as a chipped windshield. (Image: Photos.com/Photos.com/Getty Images)

If your vehicle is relatively new or you obtained financing to make the purchase, there's a good chance you carry physical damage insurance coverage. Physical damage coverage consists of comprehensive and collision and will pay for the need to repair or replace your vehicle. If your vehicle is damaged or stolen, there are certain guidelines to be aware of for reporting a claim in a timely manner.

Identification

Comprehensive insurance covers damage to your vehicle not related to accidents, such as a windshield chip caused by a flying stone, vandalism, dents caused by hail or a tree falling on your car. It will also pay to replace your vehicle if it is stolen. If you strike an animal in the road, comprehensive coverage will also likely cover the damage. Comprehensive coverage requires that you pay a deductible, which is an amount you pay out of your own pocket before coverage begins.

Time Frame

The time limit for reporting a comprehensive claim, or any type of auto insurance claim, can vary because of factors, such as the laws of your state and the rules of your insurance company. Your auto policy will likely spell out the time frame for reporting the claim, as well as the proper procedure. The policy may indicate a specific time frame or offer a more vague description, such as stating the claim must be reported within a "reasonable" amount of time.

Considerations

As a rule of thumb, it's a good idea to report the claim as soon as possible after the incident occurs. Failure to do so could result in delays, as it may raise suspicions as to why the claim wasn't filed promptly. For instance, if you report your vehicle as stolen several months after the fact, your insurer is sure to question why you waited so long, and even whether the vehicle was truly stolen or perhaps "disappeared" under more dubious circumstances.

Ramifications

If you do not report a claim within a reasonable amount of time, the insurance company may have legitimate grounds to deny the claim, meaning you will receive nothing for your loss. It may also jeopardize your right to file a lawsuit against your insurer if you do not agree with a settlement amount. If the insurer becomes suspicious about your reasons for delaying the filing of your claim, it could even launch an investigation into the possibility of insurance fraud.

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