You just got into a car accident and you’re panicking, wondering what happens now. Do you call the police? Do you call your insurance company? Do you fill out a car accident report? First, try to remain calm. Car accidents happen all the time, and while stressful, there is a clear process in place for what to do after an accident. First and foremost, seek medical attention if anyone in the accident sustained injuries. Once any injured parties have been looked at by medical professionals, it’s time to report the accident. But who you report the accident to and whether you are legally required to report it varies depending on the circumstances. Keep reading to learn more about how to report a car accident in Canada.
Do I need to report a car accident?
The first question that pops into most people’s heads when it comes to reporting an accident is “do I need to?” Reporting a car accident to the police might be legally required depending on the circumstances of the accident. For example, in Ontario, if the damage exceeds $2000 (between both vehicles) or someone was injured in the accident, you must file a police accident report. A list of situations where you will be required to report a car accident to the police in Ontario are as follows:
- If the damage caused by the accident exceeds $2,000 between both vehicles combined.
- If someone is injured in the accident, whether the injuries sustained are major or minor.
- If the accident involved a government vehicle.
- If the accident involved a driver who is uninsured or underinsured.
- If the accident involved a criminal act, such as impaired driving or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- If the accident involved a pedestrian.
- If the accident resulted in damage to private or municipal property.
If you aren’t sure whether you are required to report your car accident to the police based on the criteria above, contact BrokerLink.
What happens if I don’t report a car accident?
The thought of skipping the accident reporting and claims filing process altogether can be tempting, especially if the accident was minor, but it isn’t wise to do so. In fact, doing so can have serious consequences, especially since it is illegal in certain circumstances, not to mention a violation of the terms of your auto insurance policy. The reason many drivers contemplate not reporting an accident is that they don’t want their insurance rates to go up. But failing to disclose an accident can cost you more money in the long run. Keep reading for a few of the consequences you may face for failing to report a car accident in Ontario.
Under the Highway Traffic Act, leaving the scene of a car accident in Ontario could lead to:
- Fines ranging between $400 and $2,000.
- Suspension of your driver’s license for up to two years.
- Jail time (depending on the severity of the accident that you left).
Other risks that may come with failing to report a car accident, whether to the police or your insurance company, include:
- The other driver decides to report the accident to their insurance company: If this happens, your insurance company will be notified of the accident and if you failed to disclose it, they could cancel your policy. This can not only make you look guilty because you failed to file a claim after the accident but it can also make it more difficult (and expensive) to find an auto insurance policy in the future.
- The other driver decides to file a police report: If the other driver involved in the accident decides to report the accident to the police, you could then be charged with leaving the scene of an accident, which can lead to hefty fines, license suspension, and jail time.
- The other driver may decide not to pay: If you and the other driver agree not to report the accident and pay any expenses out-of-pocket, all you have is their word. If they go back on it, you could be forced to pay for the cost of the damage, even if you didn't cause the accident.
- Injuries could only be made known after the fact: Injuries sustained in car accidents can be serious, but they don't always present themselves immediately. But if you fail to report a car accident, you won’t be able to file a claim with your insurance company, which means you will need to pay for any medical expenses not covered by your health insurance out-of-pocket.
How long do I have to report an accident?
In Ontario, drivers should report car accidents within 24 hours of them occurring. Even if the damage is minimal (under $2,000) and you decide against filing an insurance claim, it’s important to have a record of the accident.
What information do I need to file a claim with my insurance company?
If you were involved in an auto accident and want to file a claim with your insurance company, you will need to provide several important pieces of information. We always recommend gathering as much evidence as possible before leaving the scene of the accident. Take photos and videos of the scene and the vehicles involved, as well as any traffic signs or lights. You should also take notes on the road and weather conditions. The more information you have, the better, especially when it comes to filing a claim with your own insurance company or fighting a claim brought against you.
Further, you will need information about other driver(s) involved in the accident. Ideally, before you leave the scene of the accident, exchange the following information with those involved: home addresses, phone numbers, license plate numbers, driver’s license numbers, insurance company names, and insurance company numbers. It’s also a good idea to write down the names and phone numbers of any passengers or witnesses to the accident. During these interactions, we advise against admitting fault or agreeing to pay for any necessary repairs or medical expenses out-of-pocket.
Before filing your claim, be prepared to answer several questions asked by your insurance agent, broker, or other company representative. They will help you determine the type of claim to file, as there are many types of claims depending on your auto insurance coverages and the circumstances of the accident. For example, who is liable for the collision, whether the other driver fled the scene, or whether the other driver is uninsured or underinsured can all impact your claim. Depending on these factors, you may file an accident benefits claim, an uninsured automobile claim, a liability claim, or another type of claim.
That said, no matter which type of claim you end up filing, you will need several documents. To ensure the claims process is as seamless as possible, aim to have the following pieces of information prepared before speaking to your insurance company:
- The name of the other driver’s insurance company.
- The other driver’s auto insurance policy number.
- The make, model, year, and registration number of the other driver’s vehicle.
- The date, time, and location of the accident.
- The extent of the damage to the vehicle.
- The names of any passengers in the vehicle at the time of the accident.
- The extent of the injuries. (if applicable)
- The name and driver’s license number of the other driver.
- The license plate numbers and vehicle identification numbers of the other driver’s vehicle.
- The name and badge number of the investigating police officer, if the accident was reported to local police.
What information is included in a police report?
Now that you know what information is needed to file a claim with your insurance company, it’s time to learn about the information included in a policy report. The information included in a police report for a car accident in Ontario varies based on who filed the report, where it was filed, and the circumstances of the accident. For example, an accident report drafted at the scene will not be the same as one drafted after the fact at the reporting centre.
The following information is commonly included in police accident reports in Ontario:
- The report number: All police accident reports have a reference number clearly indicated on them.
- The date and location of the accident: The report will include the date and location details of the accident.
- The accident details: Photos of any damage or injuries that resulted from the accident will be part of the police report. Details including the location of the damage/injuries, as well as the type of accident will be noted.
- Driver information: The police report will include the driver’s license numbers, insurance company names, insurance policies, and contact information of all drivers involved in the accident.
- Vehicle information: The report will also include details of the make, model, and year of the vehicles involved in the accident.
- Statements: Statements from any relevant witnesses or passengers will be included in the report.
- Driver statement: A statement detailing the events that lead to the collision from the driver’s perspective will be included.
- Other information: Lastly, any other information that the police deem relevant to the accident, such as any hazardous road conditions or weather will be included.
Contact BrokerLink for more information on how to report a car accident
If you still have questions about how to report a car accident to the police or your insurance company, BrokerLink is here. We are car insurance experts, which means we can help you understand the claims process and what is required of you following a car accident. We can also answer any questions you may have about how getting into a car accident will impact your insurance premium and help you find a new auto insurance policy when your existing one is up for renewal.
No matter your driving record or claims history, BrokerLink will work tirelessly to find coverage that meets your needs and budget. If affordable, comprehensive car insurance is what you’re after, BrokerLink can help.
Contact us today to speak with a car insurance expert and obtain a free quote. You can also use our online quote tool to request a free car insurance quote right now. What are you waiting for? Get started today!
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