How Long Do You Have To Report A Car Accident To Your Insurance Company?

In the unfortunate event of a car accident, prompt action is crucial. To ensure your claim is dealt with efficiently and smoothly, our article explores the essential details on reporting timelines and the parties you should inform after the car accident.

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How Long Do You Have To Report A Car Accident To Your Insurance Company
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Car accidents are never a pleasant encounter as they can be a daunting experience with many obligations to fulfil and a crucial aspect is the timely filing of a claim with your insurance provider. While there may not be a specific legal timeframe for reporting an accident, most insurance companies have policies in place that emphasize prompt reporting.

If you are wondering how long you have to report a car accident to the necessary parties, below we walk you through everything you need to know.

How Long After An Accident Can You File A Claim?

Although there is no legal requirement regarding the timeframe for reporting an accident, most insurance providers have clauses that mandate prompt reporting. In general, you should report a car accident to your insurance provider within 24 hours as this allows them to handle the claim efficiently and also ensure any repairs are carried out quickly.

What Happens If You Don’t Report It Within 24 Hours?

As Section 170 of the Road Traffic Act states, you must report a car accident along with all the required details by law. However, this only applies to your insurance company because the police only want to be informed of an accident if you were unable to exchange details at the scene, if anyone was injured or if you think the other person has committed a driving offence. Therefore, as long as it’s just an accident where you were able to exchange details, no one was injured and the driver hasn’t committed a driving offence, you only need to inform your car insurance provider.

Do I Have To Tell My Insurance?

No matter how small the accident is or whether you think the other driver won’t make a claim, you should always tell your insurance provider. Failing to do so could mean that your insurance provider may have the right to not renew your policy. It can also be seen as a form of fraud as they may believe that you are deliberately withholding information.

Another reason why you should tell your insurance is because the third party may decide to claim afterwards and this will be the first your car insurance provider hears of it from the third party’s provider. For example, they may have accidentally scraped their car in the car park and they may decide to claim that it was caused by the accident with yourself. Therefore, there will always be a paper trail and you’ll find it far more difficult to get car insurance in the future.

How Long After An Accident Can You File A Claim

What If It Wasn’t My Fault?

Regardless of fault, it’s advisable to report any accident to your insurance company. They can provide guidance and support throughout the claims process, even if you believe the other party will take full responsibility. Your provider needs to be aware of the incident to protect your rights and assist in potential disputes or legal matters that may arise.

Steps To Reporting An Accident

  • Ensure your engine is switched off and the hazard lights are switched on
  • Check for any injuries to yourself (and passengers) as well as the third party
  • Exchange details (name, address, car registration and insurance provider)
  • Take photos of the damage to your and the third party’s car
  • Report the accident to your insurance provider
  • If your car has a dash cam installed, mention it to your provider

If you require more detail, our guide on what to do after a car accident covers everything you need to know.

Reporting An Accident Abroad

If you’ve driven your car abroad via the Eurotunnel or a ferry and been unfortunate to have had an accident, you may be wondering how to report it. Although there may be a language barrier, the process is very similar.

One exception is that if you were to have an accident abroad with a foreign driver, they will probably ask you to fill in an “Agreed Statement of Facts on Motor Vehicle Accident” (also referred to as an EAS).

However, you should only fill out this form if you fully understand what you are signing. If you don’t, it can be found in each language online and you may want to print off this form and take it with you just in case.


To ensure your car accident is dealt with efficiently and smoothly, you’ll want to ensure you file your claim sooner rather than later. The industry standard of reporting a car accident within 24 hours is the maximum time limit and not a target.

If you require further information regarding how long you have to file a car accident claim, feel free to get in touch and we will try to provide our assistance where possible.

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