Although you should always try to avoid accidents, sometimes you find yourself in the wrong place at the wrong time. Accidents can happen, even when your responsibility is not involved. In the event of an accident, staying calm and following a few basic tips can help you meet your obligations, protect your rights and deal with the immediate situation effectively. Accident reporting procedures vary by province and territory in Canada. We, therefore, encourage you to consult the relevant government websites for information specific to your region.
Immediately after an accident
Try to stay calm and make sure your vehicle has come to a complete stop, then:
- Put the vehicle in park and turn on the hazard warning lights.
- Check to see if you or someone else is injured. If there are injuries, do not attempt to move them. Call 911 for emergency assistance.
- Perform a quick damage inspection. Most jurisdictions have a total damage cost threshold above which you must call the police. In Ontario and Alberta, for example, if the amount of damage on all vehicles exceeds $2,000, then you must call the police and an accident report must be filed. Some jurisdictions provide an amount of only $1,000.
- You must report an accident to the police when:
- One person was injured.
- The accident involves a government vehicle.
- One of the drivers involved in the accident does not have car insurance.
- The accident involves a pedestrian.
- Damage to private or municipal property is significant.
- You should call 911 in the following cases:
- One person was injured in the accident.
- You believe that one of the drivers has committed a criminal offense.
- Pay attention to oncoming traffic. From a safe vantage point, document the accident by taking pictures or drawing the scene of it. Try to take photos of visible damage as well as the position of all vehicles, license plate numbers, and other drivers, for future reference.
- If the situation permits (ie when the damage is minor and there are no injuries), move your vehicle to a safer location away from traffic. Remember to take your photos first, if it is safe to do so.
- Ask the owner or driver of the other vehicle for their name, the name of their insurer, their policy number, and the make, model, year, and license plate number of their vehicle. Give the police officer your personal information if they ask for it. Collect contact information for anyone who witnessed the accident.
- Do not leave the scene of the accident until you have completed all the previous steps and have concluded that the presence of the police is not necessary.
- If the damage is less than $2,000 or $1,000 (depending on the jurisdiction), report the accident to the nearest Collision Reporting Center (if your jurisdiction requires it) within 24 hours or as required by the law.
- Before reporting the accident to your insurance company, call your insurance broker for claims advice if:
- The accident happened during office hours.
- There is no urgency.
- You don’t need a replacement car right away.
Otherwise, report the accident using your insurer’s claims line, which is available 24 hours a day.
Now that we’ve gone over what to do in the event of an accident, here are some other things you should consider:
- Try to avoid altercations with other drivers and passengers and do not try to determine who is at fault. Do not admit your liability to third parties. Describe the details of the accident as it occurred to the police officer if any, or your broker or insurance company.
- The liability of each party will be determined by the insurance companies.
- Beware of fraudulent accidents aimed at extracting compensation from insurance companies. If the circumstances of the accident seem suspicious, report them to the police and your insurance company.
- Also, beware of towing company scams. If you need to have your vehicle towed, make sure you don’t overpay for this service. Call a towing company recommended by the police or your insurance company and have your vehicle towed to the nearest collision reporting center or garage agreed to by you or your insurance company.
Frequently Asked Questions
When should I report an accident to the police?
You must call the police when your jurisdiction’s guidelines require it or when the total amount of damage exceeds a certain threshold (usually $1,000 or $2,000 in most provinces). Note that this amount includes damage to other vehicles and other property damage. Even when the amount of damage does not exceed the threshold limit, you should still report an accident to the police if anyone has been injured (drivers, passengers, or pedestrians), if you suspect that a driver has committed a criminal offense, such as driving while impaired (due to alcohol or drug use), if the other driver fled the scene of the accident, if the accident involves a government vehicle, or if the other driver n have no insurance.
What could be the consequences of not reporting the accident to the police?
In general, you must report any accident within 24 to 72 hours. Failure to do so could result in you being charged with leaving the scene of the accident. This offense is punishable by fines, license suspension, and even imprisonment.
Will the police come to the scene of the accident?
Perhaps, but this may depend on factors such as the location and severity of the accident, the presence of injuries, and the availability of police resources at the time of the accident.
Does reporting your accident to the police automatically trigger an insurance claim?
No. When an accident is reported to the Collision Reporting Center, the person submitting the claim can request that the information not be passed on to their insurance company. If she agrees to have the details of the accident passed on to her insurance company, what happens next is up to the insurer. However, the information will be noted in the insurance company’s file and the insurance company will contact the person to discuss it.
Should I report any accident to my insurance company?
You should consult your provincial auto insurance policy wording or contact your broker to determine whether or not the accident should be reported to your insurer. For example, in Ontario, if the accident involves injury or property damage, you must report it to your insurance agent, broker, or insurance company within seven days, whether or not you are at fault. of the accident. If you are not at fault for the accident, your insurance premiums will usually not increase. On the other hand, if you are responsible for the accident, it will be recorded on your driving record even if you try to pay for the damages yourself.
What can be the consequences if I do not report the accident to my insurance company?
It can be tempting to settle minor accidents out of court without involving your insurance company, to avoid possible increases in your insurance premiums. However, you should consider the following factors before doing so:
- Be sure to follow local law enforcement reporting requirements. Know in what contexts you are legally required to report an incident.
- You should also know and follow your auto policy’s accident reporting requirements.
Is there now an official ‘Minor Accident’ category used by insurers and if so, how can I take advantage of it?
In Ontario, since June 1, 2016, insurers can no longer use a minor at-fault accident to increase your premiums if that accident meets certain criteria. The eligibility criteria are the absence of payment by an insurer, the absence of injury, and the presence of damage to each car and well below $2,000 per car, which was paid by the driver responsible for the accident. This provision is limited to one minor accident every three years 1.
Is it advantageous to obtain an accident waiver endorsement when one is available?
A clear advantage is that this type of coverage protects your driving record (in terms of insurance) in the event of a first at-fault accident. If you do not purchase the Accident Waiver and have an at-fault accident, your insurance driving record will not be protected and your premiums may increase. Please note, however, that even if you have this protection, subsequent accidents during the next six years will affect your driving record and that this type of endorsement does not protect your driver’s license or any fees and fines imposed by the government. The accident waiver rider may not be available in provinces where government insurance programs are in place.