If you've never lodged a car insurance claim before, you might have a few questions around how the process actually works. What information do you need to gather? Who do you need to speak to? And perhaps most importantly, how long after an accident do you have to submit your claim?
Well, wonder no more. We’re here to help demystify the car insurance claims process at Youi for you. Below, we’ve provided the answers to some frequently asked questions, hopefully making things a little clearer and outlining the types of factors that are worth keeping in mind if you're involved in a car accident.
When can you make a car insurance claim?
In simplest terms, if your vehicle is involved in a car accident that causes damage to property, your own vehicle or another driver’s vehicle, you can lodge a claim. Your insurance provider may cover all, some or none of the costs stemming from the accident, depending on the type of car insurance you hold and the nature of the incident. Comprehensive car insurance is typically the highest level of cover you can hold.
The amount of time you have to submit a car insurance claim can also vary between insurers, so it's important to check your relevant product disclosure statement to find out for sure.
When can you make a CTP insurance claim?
Compulsory Third Party (CTP) insurance is a bit different from other types of car insurance in that it does not cover damage to property, your vehicle or the vehicle of any other drivers involved. Instead, CTP insurance covers compensation payments for anyone injured or killed in a car accident.
A couple of other points about CTP. Firstly, it’s mandatory in all Australian states and territories. For NSW CTP, SA CTP and QLD CTP, you'll need to take out Compulsory Third Party cover before registering your vehicle. For drivers in other states and territories, your CTP insurance is included in your vehicle registration.
Also, time limits on CTP claims vary between states and territories – as we’ve outlined below. So as well as taking a look at the following info, be sure to check with your local insurance regulatory authority if you're unsure how long you have to submit a CTP claim in your area.
What’s the time limit on CTP car insurance claims?
The length of time you have to lodge a CTP insurance claim after an accident can vary depending on individual state and territory laws. Here’s a bit of an overview for each.
A CTP claim must be made within nine months of the date of the accident, or within nine months of first noticing injuries resulting from the accident, although these timeframes can be shorter. If you seek personal advice from a lawyer regarding a claim, you must then submit the claim within one month of this meeting. If you cannot identify the vehicle driven by the other driver at the accident scene, you have three months to submit a claim against the nominal defendant.
New South Wales
You must make a CTP claim within three months of the accident. It's important to note that in NSW, if you submit your claim more than 28 days from the date of the accident, you may not receive backpay of entitlements to the date the accident happened. In this case, your entitlements may only be back paid to the claim submission date.
You may submit a CTP claim up to one year from the date of the car accident, or from the date you first noticed injuries relating to the accident. Exceptions apply for people under 18 (who must submit a claim prior to turning 21), and the Transport Accident Commission (TAC) may consider claims made within three years if the delay is considered reasonable.
Although SA has one of the shorter CTP claim time limits (at six months), exceptions do exist for instances where the car driven by the other party cannot be identified. If the other vehicle was not insured or cannot be identified, you must submit your claim as soon as reasonably possible.
In WA, you should submit your CTP claim as soon as reasonably possible. Generally however, these claims can be submitted up to three years from the date of the accident.
In the Top End, CTP claims must be submitted within six months of the accident.
Australian Capital Territory
If you have enlisted legal help, in the ACT your CTP claim must be submitted within one month of the accident. Otherwise, you have three months to submit a claim through the nominal defendant. Late claims may be entertained but you will need to show reasonable grounds for the delay.
Should you wait to make a car insurance claim?
Excluding CTP claims (which have varying timeframes, depending on your location – see details above), you should report any motor vehicle accident you’re involved in to your insurance provider as soon as reasonable after the incident. Your insurer should be able to give you guidance about how to proceed, but it may be necessary to seek legal advice if you’re still not sure.
Submitting your claim as soon as possible may benefit you in the following ways:
- Your insurance benefits may be processed and paid out faster, allowing you to move on with confidence.
- If you don't have contact details for the other driver, your insurance company can request a police report to get these for you instead of you trying to track them down alone.
- You minimise the risk of eyewitnesses either forgetting about the accident or changing their contact details. The sooner your insurer or the police are able to speak to witnesses where relevant, the higher the chance that their accounts will be considered useful.
How long will it take for your claim to be processed?
From the day the insurer receives your claim, they have 10 business days to advise you of the outcome or confirm that they need more time. Instances where they may need more time include if they're still following up on contact details from a police report, or if the accident details need more investigation.
If an insurer does need more time, they must provide you with an update on your claim’s progress every 20 business days.
So while the question of how long you have to submit an insurance claim after an accident might seem simple, there are a lot of variables that can affect the answer. Before making a claim for any accident you’re involved in, consider your relevant state or territory laws, the type of insurance you have and whether or not you should get some legal help for expert guidance.