RateCity.com.au
  1. Home
  2. Car Insurance
  3. Articles
  4. How long after a car accident can you file a car insurance claim in Australia?

How long after a car accident can you file a car insurance claim in Australia?

Peter Terlato avatar
Peter Terlato
- 7 min read
How long after a car accident can you file a car insurance claim in Australia?

While there is no specified car insurance claim time limit in Australia with reference to comprehensive car insurance claims, your insurer will likely expect you to submit a claim soon after an accident. This may be especially necessary if there is any doubt as to who is at fault, and in case there are significant damage claims.

However, compulsory third-party (CTP) insurance is different. Some providers may expect you to file claims for any injuries within a month of the accident occurring, although in some states this limit may be extended up to a year depending on whether the accident becomes a legal issue, and possibly involves a police investigation.

A car accident can be a traumatic experience, and even if you don’t suffer or cause any physical injuries, there may be damage to your or others’ cars or property. You may not need to file an insurance claim if you and others involved agree that the damage is minor and can be settled mutually. 

However, if you decide to file an insurance claim, your insurer should ideally respond to you within ten days, or at least inform you about how long the car insurance investigation may take. In case either you are injured or your car is damaged in an accident caused by another driver, you may need to notify them in writing that you are planning to claim compensation.

While there may not be a time limit on comprehensive car insurance claims, there may be several factors that affect the claims settlement process. For instance, the accident might involve a police investigation, or the driver responsible for the accident may have absconded.

State-by-state breakdown of CTP claim timeframes

If you or the other driver are seriously injured, it may take a long time to file a claim after the car accident. You may need to check the limits per your state laws for how long after an accident you can make a claim. In Victoria, for example, someone aged under 18 injured in an accident may be able to make a claim any time before they turn 21.

New South Wales

You are required to lodge a claim within three months of the accident. It's important to be aware that surpassing a 28-day window from the accident date might result in limited entitlement backpay. This implies that your entitlements will only be retroactively paid up to the date of claim submission.

Queensland

You must initiate the claim within nine months from the accident date or from the first identification of injuries stemming from the accident. It's worth noting that these periods might be shorter in specific circumstances. Additionally, if you consult with a lawyer for personalised advice on your claim, you are required to file the claim within one month following this consultation. In cases where you are unable to identify the vehicle responsible for the accident, you have a three-month window to submit a claim against the nominal defendant.

Victoria

You have the flexibility to initiate a claim up to one year after the car accident or from the moment you first detect injuries related to the incident. Exceptions exist for individuals under the age of 18, who must submit their claims prior to turning 21. The Transport Accident Commission (TAC) also considers claims made within three years if reasonable justification for the delay is provided.

South Australia

South Australia imposes a six month time limit for CTP claims. Exceptions may be granted when the responsible vehicle cannot be identified. If the other vehicle lacks insurance or cannot be recognised, you must make your claim promptly and within a reasonable timeframe.

Western Australia

While it's advisable to initiate the claim as soon as feasible, the maximum window for submission extends to three years from the accident date.

Tasmania

You are granted up to one year to file an 'Application for benefits' (Form B) to secure entitlements from CTP insurance coverage.

Australian Capital Territory (ACT)

The timeframe for CTP claim submission varies based on legal assistance. If you've engaged legal representation, your claim must be lodged within one month of the accident. Alternatively, you have three months to submit a claim through the nominal defendant. While late claims might be considered, you must provide reasonable grounds for the delay.

Northern Territory

CTP claims must be formally lodged within six months of the accident.

When should you submit a car insurance claim?

If you’re involved in a motor vehicle accident, ideally you’ll report the incident to your insurance provider as soon as reasonably possible. Your insurance company may be able to provide guidance on the necessary actions to take. However, if you have any uncertainty regarding the incident, you may want to seek legal counsel first.

Submitting your insurance claim without delay may offer several advantages:

1. Accelerated processing of insurance benefits - By initiating your claim as swiftly as possible, you might be able to expedite the payout of your insurance claim. This quick resolution could allow you to move forward with a sense of assurance and financial security.

2. Assistance in contacting the other driver/s - In cases where you lack contact details for the other driver involved, your insurance company possesses the ability to request a police report. This report can help retrieve the necessary contact information on your behalf, alleviating the burden of attempting to independently track down the other party on your own.

3. Preservation of eyewitness testimonies -  The risk of witnesses either forgetting pertinent details about the accident or altering their contact information may be minimised if you file your report promptly. When your insurer or the police engage with witnesses early on, the likelihood of obtaining accurate and useful accounts significantly increases.

How long does it take to settle car insurance claims?

It is usually difficult to establish a car insurance claim settlement time frame as your insurer will need to verify the details of the accident and check whether the claim submitted is genuine, sometimes after consulting any other insurance provider/s involved. Comprehensive insurance providers will likely also check whether your policy covers, for instance, not only your liability but also damages to your vehicle.

Suppose your car rego covers CTP insurance, and you’ve purchased third party property damage cover. In that case, your liability for others’ injuries and damage to their vehicle or property will probably be covered, but the cost of repairing your car may not be.

You may ask your insurer about how long an insurance claim check might take when you submit the claim, but consider that such an insurance claim check likely depends on how long after the accident you make a claim and how much detail you are able to provide in your accident description.

Since you only get one chance at filing an insurance claim, you may want to take time to make sure you’ve got all the details right, and perhaps also inspect your car thoroughly for damages if necessary. There may also be injury-related complications in terms of recollecting the details of the accident as well as filing a car insurance claim. 

Equally, you may have personal reasons for wanting a shorter claim settlement time frame such as needing to settle hospital bills or pay off the credit card which you used for emergency expenses or repairs to your car. You are also entitled to receive an update from your insurer every 20 days, irrespective of how long it takes to settle the car insurance claim.

You may also need to discuss updates to your car insurance policy after the accident, as well as any increases in the cost of your car insurance premiums. It may be helpful to check your product disclosure statement (PDS) for further details. We’ve compiled a list of handy tips for those needing to claim car insurance, so you can be extra prepared for any issues that may arise during the process.

Compare car insurance

Product database updated 21 May, 2024

This article was reviewed by Personal Finance Editor Mark Bristow before it was published as part of RateCity's Fact Check process.