Collision Reporting

  • Reporting a Collision

    An accident is a stressful event in your life. Take a deep breath and relax, here’s what to do:

    At the scene you will need to collect some information. Often, the police will do this for you but just in case, this is what you will need:

    • the name of the registered owner’s insurance company and his/her auto insurance policy number;
    • the make, model, year, registration and licence plate number of the vehicle
    • details regarding the accident, including:
      • the driver’s name and driver’s licence number (if the driver is not the registered owner)
      • the date, time and location of the accident
      • the extent of any injuries
      • the number of passengers involved, if any
      • the extent of damage to the vehicle
      • your description of the accident
      • the names and driver’s licence numbers of the other drivers, as well as the names of their insurance companies and their auto insurance policy numbers
      • the licence plate and vehicle identification numbers of the other vehicles
      • the name and badge number of the investigating police officer if the accident was reported to the police
  • Reporting Your Claim

    Once you have collected this information, report the accident to your insurance broker. Make sure you have the accident information handy, it will be needed for the report.

    When you are involved in an auto accident involving injury or property damage, you need to report it to your insurance agent, broker, or insurance company within seven days, regardless of who is at fault. All accidents with a total damage value of $2000 must be reported to the police (Ontario) Failing to report an accident to the police when it’s required by law means you are running the risk of being charged with leaving the scene. Leaving the scene of a collision is a serious conviction that could result in a hefty increase to your car insurance rates, fines, and even jail time. If you are unable to report the accident within seven days, report it as soon as possible after that. In not reporting your accident within a reasonable amount of time, your insurance company may not have to honour your claim.

  • What Happens After You File a Claim with Your Insurance Company?

    Once your claim is reported, you will be contacted by the claims adjuster assigned to your file.

    In some cases the adjuster will want to meet with you in person; in other cases the entire claim can be handled over the telephone. To support your claim, you may also be required to complete a claim form, also known as a Proof of Loss form (a sworn statement in support of your claim).

    Your claims adjuster will determine the extent to which the claim is covered by your insurance policy, explain the coverages provided by your policy, and help guide you through the entire claims process.

    If you have any questions or if there is something about your policy or claim that you don’t understand, ask your claims adjuster for clarification.

  • How Does Your Insurance Company Assess Fault?

    Someone is always determined to be at-fault in an auto accident, whether partially or fully.

    Insurance companies must determine the degree of fault to be assigned to each driver for purposes of determining which property damage coverages apply to the accident, and to ensure that the premiums of the driver who was more than 25 per cent at-fault are adjusted appropriately.

    The Insurance Act and the Fault Determination Rules made under the Insurance Act determine fault for an auto accident. The Fault Determination Rules are regulations put in place to help insurance companies provide consumers with prompt claims handling and consistent treatment.

    After you report an accident to your insurer, the company will investigate the circumstances of the accident and then make a fault decision based on the Fault Determination Rules.

    These rules:

    • cover more than 40 accident situations, using diagrams to illustrate specific occurrences, can be applied to almost every possible road collision scenario
    • are applied regardless of road or weather conditions, visibility, point of impact on the vehicles, or the actions of pedestrians

    Fault is allocated to each driver based on which accident scenario most closely resembles the accident. If the accident is not described by any of the scenarios, then fault is allocated according to the ordinary rules of negligence law.

  • How Do Police Charges or Convictions Affect Your Insurance Company’s Decision?

    If you are charged with an offence, you will not necessarily be found at fault for insurance purposes.

    Similarly, if the police don’t file charges, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the insurance companies investigating the circumstances of the accident will not find one or more of the drivers involved at fault. For example, if a vehicle was unable to stop on an icy road and rear-ended another, a police officer may say that neither of the drivers was at-fault. Such a comment relates to the laying of charges and should not be taken as an opinion about how the Fault Determination Rules apply to an auto insurance claim. In a case like this, the insurer would apply the rule stating that a vehicle which rear-ends another is at-fault. On the other hand, with certain types of charges, the Fault Determination Rules will not apply, and fault will instead be determined according to the ordinary rules of negligence law.

  • Can Fault in an Auto Accident Be Shared?

    Yes. The circumstances of an accident may show that more than one driver was partially at fault for insurance purposes.

  • How Does an At-Fault Accident Affect Me?

    A driver can be anywhere between 100% and 0% at fault. Any driver who is more than 0% at fault will have an at-fault accident on his or her insurance record.

    If you are found more than 25% at-fault for the accident, it is more than likely that your premium will go up on renewal.

    To confirm how your rates will be affected, check with your insurance agent, broker, or company representative.

    Note: When you lend your vehicle to someone, you are also lending him or her your insurance. If the individual you lent your vehicle to has an accident and is found to be more than 25% at-fault while using your vehicle, the accident will go on your insurance record, and your auto insurance premium will go up.

  • What to Expect If Your Vehicle Has Been Damaged

    The amount you receive for your damage claim will depend on the extent to which you are at fault for the damage, as well as the type of coverages you purchased.

    Speak to your claims adjuster regarding your specific situation. He or she will be able to outline the precise coverages that are available to you, as well as any deductibles that may apply.

    Does Your Insurance Company Have to Provide You with a Rental Vehicle?

    It’s best to ask your claims adjuster if you’re covered before renting a replacement vehicle.

    If the other driver’s insurance company accepts complete fault for the accident, you will be entitled to a replacement vehicle (for a reasonable length of time) while your vehicle is being repaired.

    However, if you are found to be partially or completely at-fault for the accident, and did not purchase optional Loss of Use (Transportation Replacement) Coverage, the cost of a rental vehicle may not be fully covered.

  • How Does Your Insurance Company Decide Whether to Repair Your Vehicle or Declare It a Total Loss?

    When you make a claim for damages to your vehicle, your insurance company will pay the lower of the following:

    • the cost to repair the loss or damage
    • the “actual cash value” of your vehicle at the time it was damaged.

    “Actual Cash Value” (ACV) = The amount necessary to replace your vehicle with a comparable used vehicle. (The total mileage, age, overall condition and average retail selling price of your vehicle will all be considered in determining its actual cash value.) plus applicable sales tax.

    Note: If you’ve recently completed work on your vehicle that you think would increase its actual cash value, tell your claims adjuster. He or she may ask you to provide receipts to help the insurance company determine your cash settlement.

    Recognize that repairs needed to maintain your vehicle in good running order may not increase the actual cash value of your vehicle.

    Your insurance company will not pay more to repair your vehicle than its actual cash value at the time it was damaged, less the deductible specified on your Certificate of Automobile Insurance.

    Your insurance company will likely decide to treat your vehicle as a total loss and offer you a cash settlement if the necessary repairs would cost more than the actual cash value of the vehicle. In most cases, it will be your responsibility to purchase a replacement vehicle.

    Note: An exception to the above would be if you purchased a removing depreciation deduction endorsement. This can be added to your auto insurance policy for a new vehicle; it is not generally available on used vehicles. The period of coverage is usually between 2 to 5 years. This optional endorsement ensures that in the event your new vehicle is written off, you will be reimbursed for the total list price of the new vehicle and not the depreciated value. Consumers purchasing a new vehicle should consult their insurance representative on the coverage choices available.

  • Getting Your Vehicle Repaired

    Selecting a Repair Shop
    Once your insurance company approves the repair estimate, you may have your vehicle repaired at the shop of your choice.

    Your insurance company may suggest you bring your vehicle to one of their “preferred” body shops. You may find using one of their “preferred” shops easier, because it puts the onus on your insurance company to make sure that the work is done satisfactorily.

    “Betterment” charges may apply if the repairs to your vehicle make it significantly better than it was before the accident.

    It is your insurance company’s obligation to return your vehicle to its pre-accident/loss condition.

    When repairs made to your vehicle end up giving you a vehicle in better condition than you had before the accident, the difference is known as “betterment.” Since the premise of insurance does not allow the insured to profit or “better” from his or her loss, your insurance company has the right to ask you to contribute towards this betterment.

    For example, if a rusty door panel that had been in a collision were to be replaced with one that is not rusty, you may be expected to contribute financially towards the betterment of the vehicle.

    For more information regarding your specific situation, speak to the claims adjuster handling your file.

  • Does your insurance company have the right to replace parts in your vehicle with used parts when it is being repaired?

    As stated in your insurance policy, your insurance company has the right to repair, rebuild, or replace any damaged parts with other parts “of like kind and quality.” This means that if you damage the front fender of your five-year-old vehicle, your insurer can replace the damaged fender with a used one of like kind and quality as the original.

    If your vehicle is less than a year old, your insurance company will likely use new Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) parts to replace any damaged parts.

    Regardless of the age of your vehicle, most insurance companies will replace damaged safety-related parts with new ones. For example, your insurance should replace a deployed air bag with new OEM air bag replacement parts.

  • What are "aftermarket" replacement parts?

    Your insurance company may also use “aftermarket” replacement parts approved by the Certified Automobile Parts Association (CAPA) that meet or exceed Original Equipment Manufacturer specifications.

    Aftermarket parts are overruns from makers of original parts or from manufacturers who specialize in replacement vehicle parts.

    Note: Your insurance company will not cover the following repairs unless they result from a peril for which you are covered or are required by fire, theft, or vandalism and your policy covers these perils:

    • tires
    • consisting of, or caused by, mechanical breakdown of any part of the vehicle
    • consisting of, or caused by rusting, corrosion, wear and tear, freezing, or explosion within the engine
  • You May Be Responsible for Paying Certain Deductibles

    When you file a claim for damage or loss, the payment made by the insurance company may be subject to a deductible, or the amount of the claim you will be responsible for paying yourself.

    You can expect to pay your full deductible unless the accident was not your fault or was only partially your fault.

    Take the following example:

    You are involved in an accident. Your vehicle’s actual cash value is determined to be $12,000. To repair your vehicle, it would cost $7,000. Since the necessary repairs cost less than the actual cash value of your vehicle, your insurance company decides to repair your vehicle rather than declare it a total loss.

    If you are 100% at-fault for the accident, the cost of repairing your vehicle will not be covered under your Direct Compensation – Property Damage Coverage. If you purchased the optional Collision or Upset Coverage with a $500 deductible, your insurance company will pay $6,500 towards repairing your vehicle ($7,000 less your $500 deductible). This means you will be responsible for paying your $500 Collision or Upset deductible.

    On the other hand, if the other driver is found to be totally at-fault for the accident, and is insured and can be identified, your insurance company will cover the total cost of repairing your vehicle ($7,000) under your Direct Compensation – Property Damage Coverage, so long as your Direct Compensation – Property Damage deductible is $0.

    Speak to your claims adjuster about your specific situation.

  • What to Expect If You’ve Been Injured

    Statutory Accident Benefits Coverages are provided by law under every auto insurance policy in Ontario. The regulations (Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule, or SABS) are provincially mandated, which means the coverage provided is standard among insurance companies. Your Claims Adjuster will walk you through these.