How to file an auto insurance claim

16 minute read Published on Oct 30, 2023 by BrokerLink Communications

How to file an auto insurance claim

If you have car insurance in Toronto and you get into an accident, then you need to know how to file an insurance claim. Remember, calling your insurance company after a minor car accident is just as important as a major one. They need to know what’s going on, and in notifying them, it allows you to begin the claims process, which often helps you pay for the cost of the damage. Keep reading to learn more about how to file a car insurance claim in Canada.

How to file a car insurance claim with your insurance provider

So you got into a car accident. First, you may be wondering: How do I report a car accident ? The answer to this question is by calling the police. However, after that, it’s time to contact your insurance provider.

Notifying your insurance provider is a necessary step if you wish to file a claim and receive compensation for any damage caused by the accident. Whether you’ve filed a claim before and simply need a refresher or have never filed a car insurance claim in your life, check out this detailed guide below:

1. Report the accident to the police

Step number one is always to report the accident to the police. Not all accidents need to be reported, though it’s generally a good idea to do so. This way, you will have a police report, which can be used as evidence when filing an insurance claim. Plus, in some situations, filing a police report is necessary, and failing to do so can result in serious fines.

In Ontario, people who are involved in a car accident are legally required to notify the police if anyone in the accident suffered a bodily injury, the damage to the vehicles is more than a combined total of $2,000, or you suspect that someone involved in the accident may have been impaired, e.g. driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs. To contact the police after an accident, call 9-1-1 and wait until law enforcement arrives.

2. Review the terms and conditions of your car insurance policy

First, read through your no-fault insurance policy to understand what coverage you have included with your policy and what your rights and responsibilities are according to your insurance contract.

As a driver in Ontario, there are certain types of coverage that you are required to have, like accident benefits coverage. The type of insurance claim you file, i.e. which type of coverage you claim, will depend on the circumstances of the accident. If you need help reviewing the terms of your insurance agreement, contact BrokerLink and a licensed broker can review it for you.

3. Notify your insurance company as soon as possible

The next step is to notify your insurance company. It is best to do this right after the accident has occurred but within no more than seven days from the date of the accident. Your insurance agent will be able to give you information on how to proceed with the claims process.

For example, there may be specific forms that you need to fill out, such as a proof of loss form. They can also help you identify which type of coverage the claim should be filed under. If you have other questions about the claims process, such as how long you can expect it to take, they can answer them for you.

4. Collect your evidence

Step number four is to collect your evidence. All car insurance claims need supporting evidence, and this evidence takes many forms. For example, you may have photos or videos from the scene of the accident that are worth including. Witness statements and the police report will also be useful.

Other basic information, like your driver’s licence number, licence plate number, the make and model of your vehicle, your insurance policy number, and your name will also need to be clearly stated. Contact, vehicle, and insurance information about the other driver should also be included, if applicable. If a police officer arrived on the scene, you may be asked to include their name and badge number.

5. Let the insurance adjuster get to work

As soon as you submit a claim to your insurance provider, they will assign an adjuster to review the file. It is the adjuster’s job to determine whether the accident is covered by your insurance policy, and if so, how much of a payout you should receive. For example, an insurance adjuster will be able to determine whether your insurance covers towing, vehicle repairs, legal fees, medical fees, and more.

As part of their investigation, they will review the evidence you submitted. They may also call you or schedule an in-person visit if they have further questions. Once their investigation is complete, they will make a recommendation to the insurance company as to whether your claim should be approved and the amount it should be approved for.

6. Get a quote for the cost of any necessary repairs

If the accident caused property damage to your car, then the insurance claim you’re filing may result in a payout that helps you cover the cost of the repairs. In this case, it’s a smart idea to get a quote for the cost of these repairs in advance. Your insurance company may be able to recommend a specific mechanic or auto body shop. However, you are free to obtain a quote from any repair shop you choose. You can also obtain multiple quotes if you wish.

7. Wait to hear from your insurance company and close the claim

The last step in the process of filing an auto insurance claim in Canada is to hear from your insurance provider. Your insurer will review the information and recommendations passed along by the adjuster. Once a decision has been made, they will notify you - either by phone or email - to let you know the status of your claim.

If it is approved, they will inform you of the payment amount, as well as when and how you will receive it. Nowadays, most insurance companies issue payouts through direct deposit, though some may still send a cheque in the mail. If you are satisfied with the results of the claim, you will receive your payout and the claim will be closed. Alternatively, if you believe your claim was unfairly rejected or the payout is not what you hoped for, you may be within your rights to appeal the claim.

If you still have questions about the claims process, including: Can you cancel a car insurance claim? or How many car insurance claims per year? contact BrokerLink today. One of our licensed insurance advisors would be pleased to answer these questions and provide you with a free car insurance quote.

How long does the auto insurance claims process take?

The claims process varies in length depending on the insurance company. However, generally speaking, the time it takes for a policyholder to submit a claim is relatively quick, especially if they’ve already gathered all of their evidence.

For example, if you have your evidence ready, filling out the Proof of Loss form and submitting it to your insurance company can take as little as 15 minutes.

Typically, the process of filing a claim will not take more than an hour. After this, though, the length of time it takes for the claim to be processed can differ significantly. It all depends on how fast your insurance company assigns an adjuster to your file, and then how long the adjuster takes to investigate your claim. In most cases, the claims process will not take more than 30 days from start to finish, though receiving your money can still take longer. To find out how long you can expect the process to take, ask your insurance provider directly.

Car insurance claim information checklist

As mentioned above, a key part of the claims filing process is providing lots of information and evidence to your insurance company. To make this process as smooth as possible, review the following checklist and make sure that you submit each and every applicable item along with your claim:

  • The full name and address of the other driver
  • The driver’s licence number of the other driver
  • The licence plate number of the other driver’s vehicle
  • The name of the other driver’s insurance company
  • The number of the other driver’s auto insurance policy
  • The make, model, year, and registration number of the other driver’s vehicle
  • The date, time, and location of the collision
  • The damage done to your vehicle and the other driver’s vehicle
  • The names of any passengers in your vehicle at the time of the collision
  • The extent of any injuries sustained (if applicable)
  • The name and badge number of the police officer who arrived on the scene and/or filed the police report (if applicable)

Tips for collecting evidence for your auto insurance claim

The evidence you submit can make or break your insurance claim, so providing as much high-quality evidence as possible is crucial. Below, the BrokerLink team has put together some tips for collecting evidence for auto insurance claims:

Take plenty of photos and videos of the accident

Remember what they say - a picture’s worth a thousand words. In the world of auto insurance, this certainly rings true. The more photo and video footage you have of the accident, the better. Aim to take photos not only of the scene generally but of specific damage to any property involved in the accident, such as your vehicle and the other driver’s vehicle. You should also take photos and videos of any injuries sustained by both parties, as well as the road conditions at the date and time of the accident. Further, taking photos of the other driver’s licence plate, driver’s licence, and vehicle make and model can help you retain this information.

Jot down the road and weather conditions

The weather and road conditions at the time of the accident can impact fault, and by extension, your claim. So make sure to jot down information about the weather and any road hazards. For example, was visibility limited due to fog, rain, or sun glare? Alternatively, were there any grounded objects or animals on the road at the time of the accident? Were you driving through a construction zone? Take photos and detailed notes.

Speak to witnesses

If there were any witnesses to the accident, speak with them and ask them to record a statement. An eyewitness might be able to vouch for you in the event that the fault lands on you or is shared between both parties. You can ask the eyewitness to write down their statement or you can ask for a voice recording.

The do’s and don'ts of car insurance claims: when to file and when not to file

Although most accidents will necessitate an auto insurance claim, there are some instances where you might be better off not filing a claim at all. We outline the do’s and don’ts of filing car insurance claims below, including when you should file a claim and when it might not be worth filing a claim:

You should file a car insurance claim if

  • You get into a serious collision that results in extensive damage to your car or another person’s car or personal property
  • The collision causes vehicle damage in the form of leakage of fuel or fluids from your car
  • You get into a car accident and someone is injured, whether you suffered the injury or someone else involved in the accident was injured, like another driver, passenger, or pedestrian
  • You have reason to believe that someone was committing an illegal act at the time of the accident, such as the other driver being under the influence of drugs or alcohol when the collision occurred
  • You have reason to suspect insurance fraud following an accident
  • Your vehicle is not drivable following the collision or incident, such as if there is a large crack in your windshield or any other windows

You should not file a car insurance claim if

  • The cost of the damage from the accident is minimal, especially if it is less than or around the same cost as your car insurance deductible
  • You can afford to pay for the cost of the damage out of pocket
  • No one was injured in the accident and any property damage was extremely minimal
  • The damage caused by the accident was your fault but you were the only person involved in the accident, such as if you backed out of your driveway and accidentally hit your fence

If you get into a car accident and aren’t sure if or how to proceed with the claims process, reach out to BrokerLink. We are a trusted and reputable insurance brokerage that can offer you expert advice. We can even make a recommendation as to whether it’s worth filing an auto insurance claim with your provider following a collision.

Denied car insurance claims

When filing a car insurance claim, all drivers have the same goal in mind: for the claim to be approved so that they can receive an insurance payout. However, the reality is that car insurance claims get denied all the time, and there are several reasons for this. We outline a few of the main reasons for denied car insurance claims below:

  • You lied and gave misleading or false information in your car insurance claim
  • There was an unauthorized driver, such as an excluded person on your policy, operating your car at the time of the accident
  • You were using your personal car for business purposes at the time of the collision and your car insurance plan does not feature commercial auto coverage
  • You were driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the accident
  • You committed an illegal act that contributed to the collision
  • You are behind on your insurance payments and have an outstanding balance owing
  • The insurance coverage you have is not enough to cover the damages incurred in the accident, e.g. your coverage limit is too low to pay for the extensive repairs needed

The circumstances listed above are common reasons that an insurance company would deny your auto insurance claim. However, everything listed above is also a reason that your insurance company could cancel your policy. A cancelled policy can have serious consequences, making it more expensive and more difficult to obtain a policy in the future. We go into greater detail about some of the main reasons that an insurance company may deny your car insurance claim or cancel your policy.


Non-payment is perhaps the most common reason that an insurance company will deny an auto insurance claim or cancel your policy. Non-payment, as the name suggests, is when you fall behind on your insurance payments. Even missing one payment is enough to put you at risk for non-payment. An insurer typically won’t cancel your policy after a single missed payment, but they may send you a warning.

If you know that you are struggling to keep up with your insurance payments, reach out to your provider directly to see if you can work out an alternate payment plan. Remember that car insurance is a legal requirement in Canada, which means if your policy is cancelled, you won’t be able to drive until you obtain new coverage.


Misrepresentation is a second reason that an insurance company might deny your car insurance claim. If you file a claim but the insurance adjuster discovers that you provided false or misleading information in your claim, they may not only deny it but they could also cancel your policy.


As you likely already know, insurance fraud is a crime and yet it remains a serious issue in the insurance industry. If you provide fraudulent information in your claim about what led to the car accident, and the insurance company finds out, they will reject your claim.

Criminal acts

As mentioned above, if you are found to have committed an illegal act at the time of the accident, such as speeding, driving under the influence, or driving with a suspended licence, your insurance company is within its rights to deny your claim.

Business use

Lastly, most basic auto insurance plans in Canada do not cover business use. Unless you specifically purchase commercial auto insurance or add a business use endorsement to your personal auto insurance plan, any accidents that occur while you are driving your car for business purposes will not be covered.

So if you got into an accident while delivering products to a client using your personal car and tried to file a claim, the insurance provider would likely deny your claim. If you have a commercial auto insurance policy, the claim would need to be filed under this policy.

How claims impact car insurance rates

Many policyholders wonder whether auto insurance claims have the ability to impact your premium. The truth is that yes, claims can impact your premium. In fact, the more claims you file, the more your rates may rise. That said, it does depend on the circumstances surrounding the claim. For example, if your claim arises from an accident that you were not at fault for, then your rates may not change at all. Alternatively, if your claim came from an accident that you caused by your policy has accident forgiveness coverage, then again, your rates may not be impacted.

That said, if you are found to be liable for a collision, then your premium is likely to go up as your risk level as a driver will go up too. Further, if you are found to have engaged in illegal driving, such as reckless driving or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, your insurance premium may not only rise but your policy could even be cancelled. Committing an illegal act at the time of any driving infraction instantly puts you at risk for a cancelled policy. Beyond your own safety, driving responsibly has many benefits, including keeping insurance rates low. Contact BrokerLink for safe driving tips to help you maintain a clean driving record.

Whether or not a car insurance claim impacts your insurance premium is not the only factor to consider. This is because car insurance premiums can go up by different amounts, depending on the circumstances of the accident, as well as your driving history. For example, in extreme cases, such as if you are committing a criminal act, like drinking and driving, at the time of the accident, your insurance premium will go up more than if you were following the rules of the road at the time of the accident.

Similarly, if you get into multiple accidents in a short period of time, e.g. within less than five years of your last accident) then your insurance premium may also be increased at a higher rate. Oppositely, if your driving record was clean at the time of the at-fault accident, then your insurance premium may increase but not to the same degree as someone with a poor driving record. To obtain a clean driving record, a policyholder must usually have multiple consecutive years of claims-free and infraction-free driving under their belt.

Get in touch with BrokerLink for more information on how to file an auto insurance claim

The claims process is extremely important, so if you are still unsure about any part of it, reach out to BrokerLink. At BrokerLink, you can speak directly with a licensed car insurance specialist who can explain the claims filing process to you. They can answer basic questions about how the process works, as well as provide advice on the best strategy to employ when filing a claim.

They can also give you tips on how to collect evidence to support your claim and explain the impact that insurance claims have on future car insurance rates. To get started, contact BrokerLink now. We can be reached by phone, email, or in person at any one of our 200+ insurance offices across Canada.

If you want to obtain a free quote, you can do so in any of the aforementioned ways or by visiting our website and taking advantage of our online quote tool.

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FAQs on filing auto insurance claims

Should I file an insurance claim if my car suffers minor damage?

It depends on the circumstances surrounding the accident. If someone was injured in the accident, even if it only resulted in minor property damage, it may still be worth filing a claim. Further, if you suspect that the other driver was committing an illegal act, such as driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the incident, then filing a claim is usually a wise choice. If, however, minor damage was the only result of the accident and you guess that the cost of the damage will be less than your insurance deductible, then not filing a claim may be the most cost-effective option. Obtain a quote from an auto body shop to find out how much the damage will cost for you to repair and compare that to your deductible.

How many auto insurance claims can I file each year?

There is no limit to the number of car insurance claims a policyholder can file each year. That said, experts generally recommend keeping the number of claims to a minimum, as the more insurance claims on your record, the higher your premium is likely to be.

What kinds of claims may not be worth it?

Whether a claim is worth filing varies from driver to driver. That said, claims for minor damage, such as small cracks, dents, scratches, or a broken side mirror, may not be worth filing for simply because the cost of the repair may be less than your deductible. That said, anytime you get into a car accident, whether it’s major or minor, it is strongly recommended that you notify your insurance company.

How can I keep insurance rates low after filing an insurance claim?

If you file an insurance claim that results in an increase to your premium, there are several things you can do to reduce your rates. For example, you could complete a driver’s education or defensive driving course, you could bundle car insurance with home insurance, or you could drive less and qualify for low mileage car insurance. For more information, check out 5 ways to save on your car insurance.

If you have any questions, contact one of our local branches.