Had a parking lot accident, fender bender, or a full-on collision? If you’re like many people, you’re now wondering if you should report the accident to the police and your insurance company. Here’s how it all plays out and how it works when it comes to insurance.
To file an accident report or not to file?
If the damage is minor, you may be tempted to settle the issue with driver of the other car to cover a small cost to fix a fender bender. We can tell you without a doubt that the best course of action is to contact your insurance company right away. They’re professionals at handling these situations and can provide you with advice and walk you through the steps you should take immediately following any accident, regardless how minor.
Many people don’t know that their Ontario auto insurance policies require them to report all accidents to their insurer, regardless of injuries or the value of the damage to the vehicles. If there are injuries or if the value of the damage exceeds $2,000 you also need to file out an accident report for the police or at the closest Collision Reporting Centre.
What about private agreements with the other driver?
We really don’t recommend failing to report a car accident to your insurer. It’s not uncommon for people to change their mind about such arrangements and file a claim with their own insurer, who will ultimately contact your insurance provider. If the other driver is the only person to file a claim after agreeing not to, then you can bet that person is going to claim they weren’t at fault, too.
It’s also not unheard of for the other driver to take your money and then report the claim to their insurer, placing you in a tough situation with your own insurer and an out-of-pocket payment. Even worse, you might have a sore neck after a car accident days or weeks after the fact (or some other injury) that could be paid with a claim.
The best thing to do in a car accident is to gather the other driver’s information. Then you can make a claim with your insurer. You just never know what the other driver might do.
Will reporting affect my rates?
Insurance companies reward accident-free drivers with clean driving records by offering them lower rates. This means a claim could impact your policy premium. If you are partially or entirely at fault, this could result in a premium increase.
But fear not, there are plenty of accidents that will have no impact on your rates. If you have an otherwise clean driving record and no previous at-fault claims, then you can give yourself additional protection in the form of “accident forgiveness,” which prevents your rates from rising even if you’re deemed at-at fault in an accident. Just be sure to do this before the accident so that you’re covered, and read the accident forgiveness policy carefully, as always.
Not-at-fault accidents don’t affect your insurance premium in any way. Examples of not-at-fault accidents include:
- Being hit from behind.
- Someone backing into you.
- Collisions when you have right-of-way (such as a car turning left into your path).
How do I know if I’m at fault?
Determining who is at fault when an accident occurs isn’t something your insurer decides. All Ontario insurers must use the Fault Determination Rules that are set out by the Province in the Insurance Act. This ensures that everyone is treated fairly and consistently regardless which insurer you chose or where you live.
Reporting an accident can save you stress, hassle and money.
Not sure what your rates look like now? Get an online quote with us in 3 minutes!