Even the most seasoned driver may find themselves involved in a motor vehicle accident at some point in their life. In Canada, there are roughly 160,000 car accidents reported each year. Thankfully, most of these are minor, and most drivers and passengers walk away without a scratch, however many of these accidents result in an insurance claim, leaving drivers wondering: “How long do accidents stay on record in Ontario?”
This post will look at different types of accidents and explore their impact on your car insurance policy and its premium.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does an accident stay on your record in Canada?
When exploring how long accidents stay on your record in Canada, we should point out that there are two types of car accidents; not-at-fault and at-fault.
A not-at-fault accident is one in which the driver of your vehicle is not responsible for the accident. A common example is if you are rear-ended by another vehicle. The overarching legal principle is that drivers must always leave enough room between their vehicle and the one in front of them in order to be able to take evasive action in the event of something unexpected. In the event of a rear-ending collision, there was not enough room left by the rear driver, and the driver of the car in front is deemed not-at-fault.
An at-fault accident is one where the driver of the vehicle is determined to be fully or partly at-fault. At-fault accidents could include side-swiping a vehicle next to you while trying to change lanes on a freeway, or a collision caused when a driver fails to stop at a four-way intersection. Drivers of vehicles involved in single-car accidents are always considered to be at-fault.
Determining who is at fault in each accident is based on a few factors. A claims adjuster will collect information about the accident from those involved and refer to any police report made at the scene of the accident or a collision reporting centre.
In Ontario, adjusters will review this information and compare that to the province’s fault determination rules. This document uses text and diagrams to demonstrate many of the most common types of accidents and explains which driver is at fault.
In Alberta, adjusters rely on common law principles to determine who is at fault. There is a tremendous volume of case law on traffic accidents, and even the most unusual circumstance has likely been considered before.
How far back do insurance companies look at your driving record in Ontario?
Insurance premiums are based on the risk of being insured. From a property perspective, a new, expensive SUV will cost more to insure than an older mid-priced sedan. Insurance companies also try to identify which drivers are more likely to experience an accident in the future than others.
In addition to the driver’s age and years of driving experience, insurers calculate this risk by examining the driving record of anyone regularly using the vehicle as well as any history of previous accidents.
While any driver could be excused for one momentary lapse of judgement resulting in a traffic ticket, the data shows that drivers with multiple traffic convictions are also more likely to experience an accident. This is the primary reason why insurance companies will pull a provincial driving record. This record will indicate any traffic violations that have resulted in a conviction within the past three years.
In addition to a driving record, insurers will also usually refer to an insurance history report. This report will include the past ten years of insurance and the vehicle owner’s and driver’s claims history. This is used for rating and underwriting a policy because just as traffic tickets have a direct correlation with car accidents, so too do previous insurance claims. The number of claims can be used to predict the likelihood that a driver will be involved in a future accident. So clear is this link: for a driver who has had three at-fault accidents over the past several years, the likelihood of a fourth accident in the next year is 75%.
Alberta and Ontario insurers usually look at 3-6 years of insurance claims history when evaluating and pricing an auto insurance policy. However, some companies will look at up to ten years of claims history when determining who should be given a claims-free discount.
Learn more about Driving records and insurance history in this recently published post.
Does insurance increase after an accident in Ontario?
As stated above, there is a direct link between a driver’s accident history and the likelihood they will have future accidents. Because of this, your insurance premium might increase after you experience an at-fault accident.
There is some good news. In Ontario, if the accident resulted in less than $2,000 of property damage and there were no injuries, your insurance company is not allowed to increase your insurance premium.
Many auto insurance policies also offer forgiveness for one at-fault accident. This coverage may be baked into your insurance package, or you may need to purchase an affordable accident forgiveness endorsement. If you have this endorsement, you will not be penalized for an at-fault accident, providing you are not charged with a major driving conviction such as careless driving, stunt driving or driving under the influence.
If you are involved in an at-fault accident and did not have accident forgiveness coverage, your insurance will likely increase on your next renewal. While every policy is different if you have been licensed for at least 6 years: having one at-fault accident in your history will likely see your premium increase by about 15%. A second at-fault accident will see that increase double to 30%.
Conversely, if you’ve only had your license for a couple of years, your insurance could increase to 50% after 1 accident.
How long do accidents stay on record in Ontario after a not-at-fault accident? Being involved in an accident in which you are determined to be not at-fault will never affect your insurance premium.
How long do hit and runs show on driving history in Ontario?
If you are involved in an accident with a hit-and-run driver and make a police report as soon as the incident happens, most insurers will not classify these types of accidents as at fault. You will have to pay your deductible; however, they will not be charged against your record.
Most insurance companies look back 3-6 years when reviewing your driving history to calculate premiums based on at-fault claims.
How do car accidents affect insurance rates?
In summary, your premium increase and how long a claim stays on your driving record depends on your insurance company and how long you have been licensed.
So, how long do accidents stay on record in Ontario? Your insurance premium may be affected for 3-6 years if you experience an at-fault accident. However, insurance increases can be avoided if you have claims forgiveness on your insurance policy when you make your first claim.
For more information on how car accidents affect insurance rates, please review our article: how much will an at-fault accident raise my insurance?