Car accidents can happen every day, but most of them are fender-benders: minor accidents involving two vehicles that often end up being small or negligible. Many choose to reach a private settlement rather than report them. However, the occasional fender-bender can still affect your insurance policy depending on the damage and insurance coverage parameters.
So, how much does a fender bender cost to fix when it’s all said and done?
Assess the damage first
One reason why reporting car damage doesn’t happen with fender benders as often full-on collisions is that the damage, on its surface, doesn’t seem too bad. You might think all your car got from the collision is a scratch or dent when you glanced at it. You should still do a full inspection to make sure you don’t end up paying for more issues than you initially suspected.
Go through this checklist immediately:
- Test the engine to ensure it’s still in good working order.
- Look for any leaking fluid underneath your vehicle and discern if there’s any smoke or a nasty smell.
- Check whether or not your tires have lost inflation, and figure out the exact location where you were hit.
- Check for a sore neck after a car accident or any other strains, even if they’re minor.
- Collect information from the other drivers involved and about the accident.
The real costs of a fender bender
By law in Ontario, if an accident is estimated to cost $2,000 or more in damages, you must report it to the police or a collision centre. This limit was previously $1,000 before laws were amended in 2015. Anything less than this figure doesn’t need to be reported unless there’s personal injury or property damage involved.
If the accident involved a government vehicle, a pedestrian, or if one of the drivers involved doesn’t have insurance, it must also be reported. Failure to report an accident within 24 hours under these circumstances could lead to a charge of leaving the scene of an accident by law enforcement.
Many car insurance plans include deductible amounts starting from $300. If damages cost less than the deductible amount, insurance providers encourage you to pay for the damages without filing an insurance claim. That helps drivers maintain lower car insurance rates each year. If scratches or dents were caused during the minor collision, it’s unlikely the damages will exceed $2,000.
However, costs to fix vehicles often depend on how state-of-the-art the material is. If a car is more exotic or sporty, there’s a high chance of paying more for the car’s parts. Any damages to those parts could exceed that $2,000 limit.
Who pays for the fender bender?
Whether it’s a private settlement or insurance-related, determining who is at fault for these accidents can be tricky. Even in the event of a settlement, you or the other driver involved in the minor incident can visit a collision reporting centre or your insurance provider after the fact.
When an accident takes place, you should immediately review your insurance policy and know where you receive coverage. Knowing what your policy covers is always the first step!
Your insurance company will then assess who is at fault and determine accident coverage rates as a result. Never admit to being at fault at the scene, whether or not it actually is your fault. Record what happened, take photos of the scene, get witness contact information, and follow all police instructions. Let your insurance company determine who is at fault and who will foot most of the costs involved. They use fault determination rules via the Financial Services Commission of Ontario to establish responsibility in an accident.
Fender benders can raise your premium if you are found to be wholly or partially at fault, with factors such as your driving history considered by your provider. But remember that your rates will not rise if you are deemed 100% not at fault. Filing a claim will give you legal protection you wouldn’t have otherwise, but you need to talk with your company before determining if it’s worth it.
If you’ve been involved in a fender bender or a more severe collision, aha insurance has your back. Get an accurate 5-minute quote to see your rates with the most up-to-date info available.