Reporting car damage: do I need to tell my insurance company?

Reporting damage to a car isn’t always a clear choice for drivers on the road because it can affect your car insurance rates.

If you’ve ever been in an accident, you understand the financial, emotional, and physical costs it can incur. In Ontario, failing to report an accident falls under the major convictions category—it’s a serious offense. If there is damage over $1,000 injury, or any suspicion of drunk driving and you fail to report it, then it’s a violation.

We all know how expensive cars can be. Unless you have a little bump with a pole in a parking lot, chances are good that the repairs are going to cost you more than $1000. If you have an accident on a public road in Ontario, the law requires you to swap insurance information with the other driver and report it.


What if I rear-ended someone but there’s no damage?

Let’s say you have a minor accident in a parking lot with another car. The damage is likely under $1000, and you might not have even been the person driving at the time. There’s a small dent in the passenger mirror that you don’t plan to get repaired because it doesn’t compromise the vehicle.

Should you report it? Yes.

Legally, in this situation, both drivers have up to two years in which they may still make a claim. So even if you agreed with the other driver that there was only minor damage and maybe you even exchanged some cash, you can’t simply forget about it.

Many insurance companies require that you report an accident within seven days. If you fail to do this and the other driver decides to make a claim within that two-year period, your insurance company may decide not to pay out if you failed to report it.



The cost of not reporting

Let’s say that you’ve decided not to report the minor accident and you’re living with a little superficial damage to your vehicle. In the case where neither party chooses to report to their insurance company, your rates will not go up (in theory).

That’s a win, right? It might be, but it carries a risk.

If the other party decides a few weeks later that they have an injury as a result of the accident, this is where you’re going to have real problems (especially if you were at fault). Additionally, if your insurance company finds out about an accident that you didn’t report in which you paid for the damages out-of-pocket, your rates may still rise.

An at-fault accident driver is a risk, and insurance companies are going to charge them more for covering that risky behaviour.

When you weigh the short-term gains against the likelihood of long-term losses, the choice becomes pretty clear: the money you save once by not reporting damage to a car will not outweigh the cost of higher rates if (or when) your insurance company finds out about it.


Ask us about reporting damage to a car

Insurance companies vary in their policies for reporting accidents and damages. In some cases, a failure to report can result in an insurance company not renewing your policy. Understand your options and go with honesty as always being the best policy.

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