Rachael Brennan has been working in the insurance industry since 2006 when she began working as a licensed insurance representative for 21st Century Insurance, during which time she earned her Property and Casualty license in all 50 states. After several years she expanded her insurance expertise, earning her license in Health and AD&D insurance as well. She has worked for small health insuran...

Full Bio →

Written by

Chris Harrigan has an economic degree from Limestone College and an MBA from Clemson University. He previously managed auto insurance claims for Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Currently, he is using his business and insurance expertise to provide insurance data analysis and visualizations to enhance the user experience.

Full Bio →

Reviewed by Chris Harrigan
Former Auto Insurance Claims Manager Chris Harrigan

UPDATED: May 4, 2022

Advertiser Disclosure

It’s all about you. We want to help you make the right car insurance coverage choices.

Advertiser Disclosure: We strive to help you make confident car insurance decisions. Comparison shopping should be easy. We are not affiliated with any one car insurance company and cannot guarantee quotes from any single company.

Our car insurance industry partnerships don’t influence our content. Our opinions are our own. To compare quotes from many different car insurance companies please enter your ZIP code on this page to use the free quote tool. The more quotes you compare, the more chances to save.

Editorial Guidelines: We are a free online resource for anyone interested in learning more about auto insurance. Our goal is to be an objective, third-party resource for everything auto insurance related. We update our site regularly, and all content is reviewed by auto insurance experts.

Here's what you need to know...

  • The types of claims that can be filed on your own policy depend upon the type of coverage that you carry
  • A claim may stay open even longer if there are damages and bodily injury
  • When there are long-term injuries, it is possible the claim could stay open for years

If you experience a loss, it is your right as the policyholder to file a claim to the contractual agreement to notify your car insurance of an accident as soon as possible.

In a perfect world, an auto claims investigation would take just days to complete.

Unfortunately, many times the statements given by each party do not match. This can delay the process, lead to additional investigations, and ultimately leave you with a car insurance claim that’s still open.

Start comparing car insurance rates now! Enter your zip code above to get started!

Understanding the Different Types of Claims

It is very difficult to learn how long your claim could potentially stay open when you do not understand the various types of claims that can be filed.

Most companies will either classify a case as a liability claim or a not at fault claim.

This does not really detail what types of damages have been reported or what type of coverage will be used.

Here is a breakdown of each type of claims:

Bodily Injury Claims

If you are involved in a vehicular accident, it is possible that your insurer will begin to investigate a bodily injury loss.

Bodily Injury Liability coverage will only pay for reasonable and necessary medical costs when you are found to be primarily at fault for the collision that led to the injuries.

The claim must be filed within the statute of limitations period in the state and the injured party must be compliant and cooperative with the insurer.

Property Damage Claims

Liability consists of Bodily Injury and Property Damage cover. A Property Damage claim is the second type of at-fault claim that can be reported against your policy.

If you or the party involved have reported a loss to your insurer for damage, your insurer will begin to investigate.

It is important that you know that Property Damage cover only pays for repairs that need to be made to the property that you do not yourself own.

Your insurer will also only payout when you are 51% or more at fault for damage to unowned real property.

Physical Damage Claims

Property damage and physical damage claims are very different even if the names may sound similar.

When you file a physical damage claim, you are filing a claim for damage to your covered vehicle or an eligible replacement car.

It is not a liability claim, but in some cases can still be classified as an at-fault case.

You will be responsible for paying your deductible when you are found to be at-fault in a loss.

Physical damage is not required but is available to most policyholders.

You can add either comprehensive-only or both comprehensive and collision to your car insurance policy to pay for vehicle repairs up to the car’s fair market value.

Comprehensive Claims

A comprehensive claim is one where the vehicle is damaged because of a fire, theft, vandalism, explosion, glass breakage, falling object, or another peril other than collision.

All legitimate comprehensive claims are not at fault and will not affect your policy rates.

Collision claims

Collision claims can be a bit more complicated. You can either be at fault or not at fault when a collision claim is filed.

A collision claim is the result of an incident when your vehicle collides with another vehicle or another object.

If you collided with another object and you are the only operator, you are automatically at fault.

If you are found to be not at fault, the deductible will be collected from the third-party insurer and then paid to you.

Compare quotes from the top car insurance companies and save

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

How long can each type of claim stay open?

How long you can expect your claim to stay open will ultimately depend on the claim type and the state that you live in.

The rules tend to be more strict with damage claims than injury claims because reoccurring injuries are common.

Here is a brief explanation:

Property Damage Claim

The insurer generally sets how long you have to file a damage claim. You are expected to file the claim in a reasonable amount of time, but that can vary by state.

Most states allow 2 years, but the investigation process can take longer when you wait.

Physical Damage Claims

You also must file your first-party claims in a timely manner but will have the same allotted time to file.

The difference is that a first-party claim typically must be settled within 30 calendar days or you must be notified of the delay when there is a reasonable explanation.

Bodily Injury and Personal Injury Claims

Injury claims get very complicated because there is a state-mandated statute of limitations. This varies from state to state, but you must report your injuries by this time to receive reimbursement for your expenses.

Once the personal injury claim is filed, the amount of time that your car insurance is still open depends on the severity of the injuries.

When there are long-term injuries, it is possible the claim could stay open for years.

Before making any final decisions on your insurance company, it is important to learn as much as you can about your local insurance providers, and the coverages they offer. Call your local insurance agent to clear up any questions that you might have. Questions to consider asking include, “What is the best coverage plan for me/my family/my situation?” “What are the minimum coverage requirements in my state and what form of coverage do you recommend?” “Do you guys offer any bundle discounts if I take out both my auto insurance and home insurance with you?” and “What is the average rate of insurance quotes you guys offer?”

Before making any big insurance decisions, use our free tool to compare insurance quotes near you. It’s simple, just plug in your zip code and we’ll do the rest!

Start comparing car insurance rates now! Enter your zip code below to get started!