Driving is a privilege that comes with many responsibilities. As soon as you’re licensed and know the rules of the road, you need to be prepared for the unexpected. Unfortunately, accidents happen every day. If you are involved in a collision, you should report it to your insurance company. Depending on how much damage there is, you might have to report it to the police as well. Failing to report accidents can result in serious consequences. The rules vary from province to province, but no matter where you live, you should understand what you need to do in the event of an accident, big or small.
When do I have to report my collision or car accident to the police?
You don’t need to report every accident to police. For example, a small fender bender in a parking lot doesn’t require police. Each province has rules that will guide you on when police are necessary. Here are some common instances where you’ll need to call 911 immediately:
- Someone is injured.
- Government vehicles were involved.
- There is property damage, other than the cars involved.
- There was a criminal offence committed, such as driving under the influence.
- One of the drivers was uninsured.
If the accident is minor you don’t need to call emergency services to the scene. However, if the damage is significant (e.g. over $2,000), you must report the accident to the police or your local collision reporting centre, depending on your province. (Check online to learn where to report a minor accident in your province.) For example, in Ontario, you are supposed to file a collision report within 24 hours after the accident, at your nearest collision centre.
Don’t forget to exchange information with the other drivers involved:
- Drivers’ license.
- Insurance information.
- Ask witnesses for their names and contact information as well.
Consequences of failing to report a car accident
There may be serious consequences for failing to report a car accident, including:
- Demerit points.
- License suspension up to two years.
- A charge for leaving the scene of an accident.
Failure to stop after an accident is in Canada’s Criminal Code, which means it could result in you having a criminal record. If you are unsure about what to do, err on the side of caution! Call your local police station just in case.
How long do you have to report a car accident to police?
Being involved in an accident is extremely stressful. You might be tempted to delay reporting the accident because it’s overwhelming. However, you should report it as soon as possible! There are time limits on how long you can wait before reporting an accident to your local collision centre. The exact time limit may vary depending on where you live, but generally, you should report an accident to police or a collision centre within 24 hours.
When do I have to report a car collision to my insurance company?
If you’re involved in an accident, you should notify your insurance company as quickly as possible after you’ve made sure everyone is safe, notified police or filed a report with the collision centre. The best way to protect yourself is by documenting everything! Even if you don’t plan to file a claim, you should still notify your insurer. They can offer advice and walk you through the process.
Here are a few of the benefits of notifying your insurance broker of an accident as soon as possible:
- They can help you arrange for repairs and alternative transportation right away.
- You might discover damage or injuries days or even weeks after the accident occurs. If your insurance company is aware of the accident immediately, they’ll be able to help with any issues that appear later on.
- Insurance companies and insurance brokers are experts! Dealing with an accident can be scary – having an expert in your corner who has seen this before will help you deal with a stressful situation.
Get in touch with BrokerLink’s car insurance brokers
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What happens if you don’t report a car accident FAQs
Is it a crime not to report a car accident in Canada?
Depending on the exact circumstances of the accident and the amount of damage, it’s possible you can be charged with a crime if you don’t report the accident. If you’re unsure, call your local police department or emergency services. They can advise you on what to do.
What not to do after an accident
- Don’t assume everyone is ok! Ask everyone involved if they are ok and if they need medical attention.
- Don’t forget to get everyone’s contact information. Ask witnesses for their contact info as well.
- Don’t neglect filing a report with your local collision centre if necessary.
- Don’t neglect notifying your insurance company of the accident.
How do I report a car accident?
It depends on the nature of the accident. If no one is injured and no crime has been committed, but the damage exceeds $2,000 you should notify the police or your local collision centre within 24 hours. If someone is injured or if you suspect illegal activity such as driving under the influence, call police immediately.