Being involved in a car accident is a hassle for any individual involved. Although the usual thing people do is to call their insurance agent right away after an accident, this is not always the case, and that is fine.
The time window for filing a claim for your car insurance after an accident varies among states. It is usually set in your insurance policy, but state laws indicate the usual time frame as two to four years. There is no law that states you should file your claim as soon as possible, but you may wait up to a year if you can justify why you waited such as recovery from severe injuries or hospitalization.
It is strongly advised to take photos of the damage to your vehicle and the accident scene as this can be used as evidence when you file your insurance claim. However, certain situations may keep us from doing so such as shock, severe injury, or not having a phone or camera to take photos with.
Having photographic evidence is an advantage, but is not a requirement in filing a claim. To file a claim, you only need your policy details, date and time of the incident, the details of all drivers involved in the accident. Having a copy of the police report is a big help.
Ideally, it is best to not do any repairs on your vehicle before it is inspected by the insurance adjuster since they will be authorizing the repairs. There is a risk that your car insurance will not cover any repairs done without approval.
The only exception to this rule are repairs done to keep the car from being damaged further, which still need to be discussed with your insurance company first.