How Long After a Car Accident Can You Claim for Damage?

Learn about when you should lodge a car insurance claim and the strict time frames for CTP insurance claims across Australia with Savvy's useful guide.

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, updated on February 16th, 2024       

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Car accidents are unexpected and often distressing events that can leave you feeling overwhelmed and uncertain about the next steps to take. If your vehicle sustains damage in an accident, it's essential to act promptly when making an insurance claim.

In Australia, the time limit for submitting a claim varies depending on the type of insurance and the state or territory you live in. This comprehensive guide explores the timelines for claiming car accident damage, covering both Compulsory Third Party (CTP) insurance and optional insurance.

How soon should I lodge a claim after an accident?

When it comes to making car insurance claims for accident damage, time is of the essence. Acting promptly can significantly impact the success of your claim and ensure you receive the support you need during a challenging time. While there may not be a specific time limit for optional car insurance claims on third-party or comprehensive policies, it is crucial to inform your insurer about the accident as soon as possible. Even seemingly minor damage should be reported, as in some cases, small dents or scratches can mask more severe damage to your vehicle.   

Promptly filing an insurance claim allows you to:

  • Preserve vital information and provide accurate details about the incident.
  • Expedite the investigation process by enabling quick evidence collection.
  • Avoid potential complications in determining fault and damages.
  • Strengthen your claim’s chances of favourable consideration by preventing key witness memory fade or contact changes.

What are the time limits on CTP insurance claims?

CTP insurance is mandatory for all drivers in Australia, covering personal injuries resulting from a car accident rather than damage to vehicles or property. For this type of car insurance, unlike optional cover, there are set time limits for making a claim, which vary depending on the state or territory you reside in and what you are claiming for, whether that is statutory benefits or personal damages for injury. It is essential to be aware of the specific time frames for CTP claims in your location to ensure you receive the full entitlements you are eligible for.

  • New South Wales: you must submit your CTP claim for statutory benefits within three months of the accident. Claims made within 28 days may entitle you to backpay from the accident date. You have 3 years after becoming aware of the injury or 12 years after the accident for personal injury claims.
  • Victoria: you have one year from the accident date or from the first notice of injuries to make a CTP claim for statutory benefits. Exceptions apply for minors and when delays are considered reasonable. You have 6 years after the accident for personal injury claims.
  • Queensland: you must lodge your CTP statutory benefits claim within nine months of the accident or the injury’s first appearance. If you consult a lawyer, you must submit the claim within one month of the consultation. You have 3 years after the accident for personal injury claims.
  • South Australia: you have six months from the accident date to make a CTP claim for statutory benefits. Claims should be made as soon as reasonably practicable if the at-fault vehicle is unidentified or unregistered. You have 3 years after the accident for personal injury claims.
  • Western Australia: you must file your CTP claim for statutory benefits as soon as practicable, with a maximum of three years from the accident date. You have 3 years after the accident for personal injury claims.
  • Tasmania: you must submit your claim for statutory benefits within 12 months of the accident date to receive CTP entitlements. You have 3 years after the accident for personal injury claims.
  • Northern Territory: you must make a CTP statutory benefits claim as soon as possible after the accident, within six months. You have 3 years after the accident for personal injury claims.
  • Australian Capital Territory: depending on the situation, the time frames for receiving early benefits, additional benefits through a CTP insurer or claiming through the nominal defendant are 30 days, 9 months and 3 months after the accident, respectively. You have 3 years after the accident for personal injury claims.

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