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Auto Insurance Claims/What is the statute of limitations in California for an auto-claim?


QUESTION: Hi.  I have an account with Farmers insurance.  An accident happened in February of 2011 and I have been trying to track the person who was driving the truck down up until this time.

No personal injury; just damage to the truck.  I contacted Farmers HELP-POINT services and the woman there said she was handling claims as far back as 4 years.

I noticed a similar question answered by you; but was unsure as to the specifics and wanted to requestion.

Is the 3 year statute of limitations on California auto insurance claims I saw in your previous answer constant? Does it change from insurance company to company, or is it constant throughout the state?

Forgive my redundancy vis a vis the previous question.  I am unsure as to the insurance company/statewide specifics.

thank you.

ANSWER: Hi Griffin,

The statute of limitation is a state law. It is not dependent on the insurance company. The statute of limitation is the last date that you could file a law suit. In California the stsute of limitation is 3 years for property damage.

You should check with an attorney, but, in some cases it may be possible to do what is referred to to as "Notice by publication". This is where you file a notice in a newspaper that the person is being sued. However, as I said you would need to check with a California attorney to see if that would be valid there.

I hope this helps
Richard Hixenbaugh

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Ah.  Just a clarification.  I was not driving the truck; a valet for a gathering was.  It's not a lawsuit as far as I define a lawsuit (perhaps ignorant); it's an insurance claim.  Are they under the same ruling?

If it happened in October of 2011 can I make the claim now, in March of 2013?

It would seem so, and the driver is willing to own responsibility.  Just checking; is there a difference between an insurance claim and a lawsuit?

Thank you in advance, again.  It's the details.

Hi Griffin,

Yes you can make the claim. The ststute of limitations is there to give you time to try to reach an acceptable settlement with the responsible party of their insurance company. If you can not reach an acceptable settlement agreement with the insurance company then you would file a law suit agant the person who damaged your car. The if you win in court, it would be the insurance company that would pay you what ever amount you were awarded by the judge. The statute of limitation is the latest time you would be able to file a law suit if you are unable to reach an acceptable settlement. If the statute date comes and goes and you have not filed suit, you would then not be able to and then neither the insurance company nor the at-fault driver would be required to pay you anything.

Richard Hixenbaugh  

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Richard Hixenbaugh


Auto insurance claims procedure, auto coverage, liability issues, auto damage questions, how to deal with the insurance company, loss of use and diminished value.


I have been involved in the insurance industry for over 25 years. I have experience in underwriting, sales, claims adjusting, auto damage estimating, auto value appraising and diminished value appraising. I have testified as an expert witness over 35 times.

Society of Certified Auto Appraisers

Completed all required courses for the Florida Property-Casualty agents license and the Florida claims adjusters license. I have attended various courses on auto damage estmating, vehicle appraising and am ASE certified in collision damage analysis.

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