If you drive, you have the potential to be in an accident. A 2019 survey conducted for Aviva Canada found that “Over 50% of Canadians are unprepared to navigate the claims process, following a car accident.” Therefore it’s crucial to know what to do after an accident to start your car insurance claim process, especially if it wasn’t your fault. In Canada, having auto insurance is your ticket to financial protection should you find yourself involved in a car accident.
As a policyholder, you should first understand how claims are handled, even before you have to file one. Below you’ll find what you need to know about car insurance when you’re not at fault for the accident and how the claim process works.
Car Insurance Claim Process Not At Fault: Frequently Asked Questions
How does the car insurance claim process work when it’s not your fault?
In Ontario, drivers have what’s known as no-fault car insurance (as long as they have car insurance). The system is Ontario’s reaction to lengthy insurance disputes from the 1980s. With Ontario’s no-fault insurance, it simply means that all drivers involved will file separate claims with their respective insurance carriers to obtain reimbursement for damages and injuries after an accident (with or without collision coverage).
Your insurance provider will always assume liability and cover any insured losses involving you, your vehicle, and your passengers. So that drivers aren’t kept waiting, it gives the claims process priority for those who need reimbursement quickly. Because it is clear who will cover the claim, your insurance provider can concentrate on getting you and your car back on the road.
How long does it take to file an insurance claim?
Filing an auto insurance claim is often a quick and easy process. Most of the time, it won’t take longer than an hour, though it could take as little as 15 minutes in some instances. In the end, it will vary based on the extent of the collision, the amount of information you can give your adjuster, and the number of questions your adjuster asks. Still, how long it will take an insurer to react to a claim differs. Ask your insurance agent or broker about the length of the claims procedure to gain a better idea.
How long does it take to get an insurance claim processed?
Because every accident is unique and calls for a different amount of time and resources, there is no definitive answer to this question. While one automobile accident settlement may take several weeks or months, another may only take a few days.
How does a no-fault claim affect my insurance?
Fault is crucial in insurance because it might affect your claim and future premiums. Insurance companies use the Fault Determination Rules, which are set down by the Province in the Insurance Act, to establish who is at fault in an accident. In virtually every imaginable scenario, these rules define who is to be deemed to be at fault.
Fortunately, if it is determined that you are not at fault, your base insurance premiums won’t change! However, you might lose a “claims-free discount” if your insurer had originally offered you one.
Filing a car insurance claim
The first step is understanding when you need to submit a car insurance claim. There are several instances in which submitting a claim may be beneficial.
When to file a car insurance claim
Experts recommend submitting an auto insurance claim in the following situations:
● You are involved in a severe car accident that causes serious damage to your car or another person’s vehicle.
● Someone is hurt as a result of a collision that you are involved in, whether it be you personally or a passenger, pedestrian, or the other driver.
● Following the auto accident, you have grounds to suspect insurance fraud.
When not to file a car insurance claim
Policyholders should carefully consider their options before filing a claim because it is a large decision with possible significant consequences. The following are some instances in which you may want to postpone making an automobile insurance claim:
● The cost of the damage is barely more than your deductible, or even less.
● Damage from the collision was very minor.
● The damage was your fault, and you were the only one involved.
● You can afford to cover the cost without going through insurance.
Speak with an insurance broker, such as one at aha insurance, if you are involved in a car accident and are uncertain whether you need to file a claim. Our team of car insurance experts can offer professional guidance on whether making a claim could be beneficial to you.
How to file a car insurance claim in Ontario?
The car insurance claim process for Ontario is rather simple. Here is a brief, detailed guide on how to submit an insurance claim:
1. Notify the police to report the collision
Technically, if the collective damage between all vehicles is under $2,000, you do not have to report the accident to the police in order to file an insurance claim. However, you do still have to report the accident if any of the following exceptions apply:
● If someone involved in the accident is injured.
● If one of the drivers does not have car insurance.
● If the collision is a result of a criminal act, such as DUI, impairment, etc.
● If the accident causes damage to private or municipal property.
● If the accident involves a government vehicle.
● If the accident involved a pedestrian.
● If the collective damage is equal to more than $2,000.
When filing a police report, make sure you file it within 24 hours.
2. Collect facts and information from the accident
You will need to get the other driver(s) in the collision’s name, license plate number, insurance provider, and policy number. You should also note the date, time, place, any injuries, any passengers, how the collision happened, and the degree of car damage. Also, get witness statements along with their contact information. The more details you give, the easier it will be to establish who is at fault for the accident and the quicker your insurance company will be able to process the claim.
Here’s a list of the information you will need for your report. Try to collect as much as possible:
● Date, time and location of the accident
● Any injuries
● Damage to the vehicle (take pictures and video)
● Make, model, year, registration and licence plate number of the vehicle
● Names and driver’s licence numbers of all drivers involved
● Names of insurance companies, and auto insurance policies of all drivers involved
● Number of passengers involved
● Your description of the accident
● Your policy number
If you reported it to the police, you will also need to get the name and badge number of the investigating officer.
3. Call your car insurance provider and report the accident
Call your insurance provider as soon as you can, ideally within a week, and provide them with all of the information you collected from the accident. Should you file your report after seven days, it could mean that they are not required to honour your claim, as certain policies have a time limit for filing claims. However, if it’s due to a related medical reason (such as due to a severe injury from the accident), let your insurer know.
4. Answer all of your claims adjuster’s questions
Once you file an accident report, a claims adjuster will get in touch with you. Their role is to examine the data and evaluate the damage to your vehicle to ensure you are paid correctly. They’re also there to answer any questions you have about your insurance and help explain the claims process to you.
Make sure you keep copies of everything you provide to the insurance company because they will almost always have questions about the information you submit. They may also ask you to fill out a Proof of Loss form, which is a sworn declaration that the information you gave is accurate.
5. Determining fault
Now, it’s time for your claims adjuster to determine who was at fault for the accident. This can be tricky because it’s not always a black-and-white scenario—both drivers can be partially responsible. If a driver is determined to have contributed more than 25% to the collision, their insurance premiums will increase to pay for the damage, and their driving record will show the at-fault incident.
As we mentioned already, your claims adjuster will use the Fault Determination Rules (set by the Province in the Insurance Act) to establish who is at fault in an accident.
6. Obtain an expert estimate for the damages to the car and the required repairs
After determining fault for the accident, it’s up to your insurance company whether they want to cover the repairs or replace your vehicle entirely. Once they’ve received the estimate for damages and repairs, if the total for repairs comes to more than the actual cash value of your vehicle, they will replace the vehicle instead.
7. Receiving your payment
Your vehicle’s repairs will be covered by your insurance; they may pay you the amount or pay the repair company directly after you cover the deductible. If the accident wasn’t your fault, your provider might waive your deductible fee. If they decide to replace your vehicle for actual cash value instead, you will receive that amount.
8. Close your claim
Now that you’ve received your amount and had your vehicle either repaired or replaced, you can call your insurance company and close your claim.
The bottom line for no-fault insurance
The no-fault insurance system in Ontario does not exclude you from being held accountable for a vehicle collision, and it does not prevent the police from filing charges against anyone who has been found to have broken the law. What it does mean, though, is that each driver will always file damage and injury claims with their own individual insurance company if ever you’re in an accident. This expedites and simplifies the process for everyone involved in an accident.