What is a fender bender and how to handle one

16 minute read Published on Jun 5, 2024 by BrokerLink Communications

Driver hand examining dented blue car with damaged fender parked on city street side.

Being involved in a fender bender can be a frightening and stressful experience - it’s a type of car accident, after all. Knowing what to do if you are involved in a car accident, as well as how the accident affects your car insurance rates, is important. Below, we explain what fender benders are, what to do if you get in one, and how a fender bender can impact your auto insurance policy.

A fender bender is a type of minor car accident

A fender bender is a type of minor car accident that typically occurs when vehicles collide while travelling at low speed. Fender benders are considered a minor form of rear-end car accident, and the damage that occurs is usually to the cars’ bumpers or fenders - hence the name “fender bender.”

Fender bender accidents can occur in a wide range of scenarios, such as if a car is backing out of a parking spot, approaching a traffic light or stop signs, or even just in the middle of the road. The good news is that the damage from a fender bender is usually minimal, so minimal in fact that the drivers of the involved vehicles can usually drive away from the scene after the accident occurs. In addition, it is uncommon for drivers or passengers involved in fender bender accidents to suffer significant injuries.

Examples of fender benders

A few of the most common types of fender bender accidents include:

  • A car stops suddenly on the road, and the driver behind them rear-ends them
  • While backing out of a parking space, a driver collides with a car passing behind their vehicle
  • A distracted or fatigued driver accidentally collides with a moving or parked car

The most common causes of fender bender accidents

To avoid fender bender accidents in the future, you need to have an understanding of how and why fender bender accidents happen, so that is what we are discussing below. Keep reading for a list of the most common causes of fender benders in Canada:

Distracted driving

Distracted driving isn’t only a leading cause of fender benders. It’s a leading cause of all car accidents in Canada. Distracted driving is any behaviour that diverts the driver’s attention away from the road. This could be eating, drinking, smoking a cigarette, setting the heater or air conditioning, changing the radio station or GPS, or texting and driving. While not all of these behaviours are illegal (though it’s important to remember that texting and driving is illegal in Canada), they can be dangerous. Generally speaking, you should try to fully concentrate on the road whenever you are driving. If you are not paying attention, you could easily end up accidentally colliding with another vehicle.


Speeding is the second common cause of fender benders. When you speed, you instantly reduce your reaction time. Since many fender benders are the result of a car stopping suddenly, speeding increases your chances of this type of accident occurring. Speeding can also lead to following other vehicles closer than you should and lead to less reaction time in the event of a quick stop. To avoid a fender bender caused by speeding, always obey the speed limit.

There will be posted speed limit signs on every road that you drive on. Do not exceed them. In fact, you may want to drive slower than them at times, such as if you’re driving through a construction zone, near a school, or in poor weather conditions.

Impaired driving

Impaired driving can significantly increase your chances of getting into a car accident, including a fender bender accident. When you drive under the influence of alcohol and drugs (which is illegal in Canada if you are over a certain limit), you are far more likely to collide with another vehicle or even a pedestrian or grounded object. How do alcohol and drugs impact your driving abilities? In the following ways:

Reaction time

Drugs and alcohol slow your reflexes, which means that you won’t be able to react as quickly to road conditions.


Bodily coordination is more difficult when impaired, and yet is necessary to operate a vehicle safely.


You may find it more difficult to concentrate on the road or stay awake when drunk or high.


Studies have shown that alcohol impacts muscle function and eye movement. It can even lead to blurred vision, all of which make it far less safe to drive.


Finally, drugs and alcohol can interfere with a person’s ability to judge distance or track the locations of others. In order to avoid an accident, you need to be able to judge and identify the locations of other cars, pedestrians, and objects on the road.

Road rage

Road rage is another cause of fender benders because it typically leads to aggressive driving behaviours. The more aggressively you drive, the more likely you are to get into an accident. Aggressive driving behaviours range from speeding to tailgating. Driving too closely to other cars and refusing to slow down to a safe speed greatly increases the odds that you will collide with another car.

Fatigued driving

Driving while tired or fatigued may also lead to fender-bender accidents. This is because, when you are fatigued, it might be difficult to concentrate fully on the road. Your eyes might even start to shut, preventing you from seeing and reacting to road conditions, like traffic lights, merging cars, and more. This can quickly lead to a fender bender or other type of accident. If you notice that you are tired, take steps to increase your energy levels before getting behind the wheel. This could mean grabbing a snack or drinking a cup of coffee. If you grow tired while on the road, consider calling a friend, rolling down the car window, or singing along to the radio to help you stay awake. If all else fails, pull over and rest before continuing to drive.

Adverse weather conditions

Adverse weather conditions make all kinds of collisions, including fender bender collisions, more likely. This is because poor weather can reduce visibility and traction on the road. When you aren’t able to see as well and when your tires have more trouble gripping the road, you will be more likely to hit other vehicles. For this reason, try to avoid driving in inclement weather as much as possible. If you need to drive in heavy rain, snow, ice, or fog, drive with extra caution.

Slow down and give yourself more time to brake as you approach intersections or other cars. If you live somewhere that is prone to harsh winter weather, consider installing snow tires on your car at the start of each winter season. Snow tires are known to have superior capabilities on wet, snowy, and icy roads.

Stopping suddenly

Stopping suddenly is one specific type of driving behaviour that often leads to fender benders. There might be a variety of reasons that a driver has to stop suddenly. These range from distracted driving, e.g., a driver illegally texting and driving and failing to notice that the traffic light up ahead has turned from green to yellow, to an animal running across the road, forcing the driver to brake to avoid hitting it. As you can see, some of the reasons that a driver has to stop suddenly are within their control, while others might not be.

Regardless of whether you are the driver who has to use the emergency brake or you are the driver behind that driver, you are more likely to get into a fender bender if you are around this type of behaviour. Do what you can to avoid having to brake suddenly. When you approach stop signs or intersections, give yourself time to slow down gradually.

Anytime you’re driving, leave ample space between you and the vehicle in front of you so that you can avoid hitting them, even if you have to brake suddenly. Experts recommend a minimum of three seconds’ worth of space.

Backing out without checking your blind spot

The truth about parking lot accidents is that many of them can be avoided. A fender bender is a common type of parking lot accident. This type of accident can occur when one driver is reversing out of their parking spot and accidentally hits a car passing behind them. The good news is that these types of accidents usually happen at low speeds, which means minimal property damage and low chances of bodily harm.

However, they can still result in minor damage to your car’s bumper and the other car’s fender. To avoid this type of accident, reverse slowly and only when it is safe to do so. How do you know when it’s safe to do so? Check your blind spot, turn on your turn signal, and use your backup camera to help you detect whether there are any potential hazards behind you.

Driving in poor conditions

Driving in poor road conditions or near road hazards, such as potholes, raised manhole covers, sharp curves, steep inclines, or on roads with surface changes like gravel to asphalt, can lead to car accidents, such as fender benders. Anytime you are driving in an area with identifiable hazards, slow your speed and leave extra room between you and other cars. You might even want to pull over and look up alternative routes. Even if it means taking a detour, driving in safe road conditions, as opposed to poor ones, can make a big difference and ultimately help you avoid a car accident.

Injuries caused by minor car accidents

Although bodily harm or injury is less common following a minor car accident than they are following a major one, it’s still possible to get hurt in a fender bender. A few of the most common types of injuries that stem from minor collisions, such as fender benders, include:

  • Soft tissue injuries, e.g. bruises, lacerations, etc.
  • Whiplash.
  • Broken and fractured bones.
  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBI), e.g. concussions.

Even if you do not suspect that you are injured following a car accident, you should always get checked out by a medical professional after the collision. The reality is that you could be in shock, or you could have internal injuries that aren’t obvious immediately after the accident. If left untreated, some injuries can get worse and even be fatal, so make sure to seek medical attention as soon as possible. A list of injury symptoms to look out for after a car accident is as follows:

  • Fatigue
  • Stiffness
  • Headaches
  • Neck pain
  • Shoulder pain
  • Upper back pain
  • Lower back pain
  • Abdominal pain
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Muscle spasms or cramps
  • Reduced range of motion
  • Swelling and inflammation
  • Bruising, redness, or discolouration
  • Tenderness or sensitivity to touch
  • Changes in eating and sleeping habits
  • Changes in personality or behaviour
  • Vision issues
  • Dizziness
  • Tinnitus (ringing ears)
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Memory loss
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Nightmares
  • Stomach pain
  • Bloating
  • Appetite loss

What to do if you’re involved in a fender bender accident

Even though fender benders are a more minor type of car accident, they can still be stress-inducing. When you’re stressed, it can be difficult to remember how to react. That is why we’ve put together this fool-proof guide on what to do if you’re involved in a fender bender accident. From calling your insurance after the minor accident to exchanging contact information with the other drivers involved, keep reading for a step-by-step guide on what to do after getting into a fender bender.

1. Stop driving and pull off to the side of the road if it is safe to do so

The most important thing in any car accident is that you get yourself to safety. As soon as the accident has occurred, stop your vehicle and pull off to the side of the road if it is safe to do so. Next, turn on your hazard lights and assess yourself for injuries. If you are injured, you may wish to remain inside your car until emergency services arrive. If you are not injured, then you can exit the vehicle when it is safe to do so.

2. Call 9-1-1 and report the car accident

The next step is to call 9-1-1 and report the car accident. If you are injured, you should let them know this so that paramedics can be sent to the scene. If no one is injured, it’s still important to report the car accident to the police. This way, a police report will be filed, which you can then use as evidence when you file a claim with your insurance provider. Even if your insurer doesn’t require a police report for an insurance claim, it is still good to have.

Please note that if someone was injured in the fender bender or if the accident resulted in a significant amount of damage, then you might be legally required to report the accident. If you don’t report a car accident when you are required to, there could be serious consequences, including hefty fines.

3. Gather evidence from the auto accident scene

Step number three is to gather evidence from the scene of the fender bender. What we mean by this is taking photos and videos of the road, the vehicles, and the damage done. Having a record of the damage will help you when you file an insurance claim. The police report will also serve as evidence. If there are any witnesses, you can ask them to provide a statement as well.

4. Exchange insurance and contact information with the other driver

The fourth step is to exchange insurance and contact information with the other driver involved in the fender bender. You will need their contact and insurance information so that you can get in touch with them about the insurance claim. Each party’s insurance company will launch an independent investigation into the accident to determine fault. Please note that fault in an auto accident can be shared, so it’s possible that your insurance companies will find both parties liable. However, the party that is more liable will be on the hook for the cost of the accident.

The specific pieces of information that you should exchange with the other driver include:

  • Legal name
  • Home address
  • Phone number
  • Email address
  • Date of birth
  • Driver’s licence number
  • Driver’s licence expiration date
  • Licence plate number
  • Make, model, and year of their vehicle
  • Insurance company name
  • Insurance policy number

It’s also wise to take the information of the police officer who arrives on the scene and any witnesses. Specifically, you should ask the law enforcement officer for their name, badge number, phone number, and the accident report number. From a witness, you can request their name, email address, and phone number.

5. Contact your insurance company to inform them of the accident

The final step that you should take after you get into a fender bender accident is to contact your insurance company. In order to pay for the damages, you will need to file an insurance claim with your provider. When you contact your insurance company, they can let you know how the claims process works, including how long it will take and what forms you need to fill out. They can also answer any questions you may have about how the accident could affect your car insurance rates or whether you can change your deductible after the car accident.

Once your claim has been filed, an insurance adjuster will investigate it and make a recommendation to the insurance company on how much money you should receive as a payout if they find that you are entitled to compensation. After a decision has been reached, your insurance company will get in touch to let you know whether the claim has been approved or denied. If they approve it, they will tell you how much the claim has been approved for and how and when you can expect to receive it.

Do I have to report a fender bender in Ontario?

In most cases, yes. In Ontario, you are legally required to report a car accident if it results in injury (even minor injury), death, or if the total damage exceeds $2,000. That said, even if the combined damage is valued at less than $2,000, which is possible for a fender bender, it’s still a wise choice to report the car accident. This way, you will have an accident report that you can use as evidence if you decide to file an insurance claim.

Car insurance: how does a fender bender impact you and the other driver?

Car accidents, including minor ones like fender benders, have the ability to impact your car insurance rates, as well as the other driver’s rates.

Ultimately, the driver responsible for the fender bender will face an insurance premium increase. Even if the insurance companies determine that both parties share fault, they will always identify which party is more at fault than the other, and that is who will be on the hook for the costs of the accident.

If you are the at-fault party, you will need to file a third-party liability claim to cover the cost of the damages. Third-party liability car insurance is legally required across Canada and can help pay medical fees, repair bills, and legal fees following an at-fault car accident.

If you were not at fault for the fender bender, then you would file an insurance claim for the damage and receive a payout from your insurance company to cover the associated costs.

Please note that at-fault car accidents almost always increase a driver’s car insurance premium, whereas no-fault accidents do not. While both will end up on your driving record, the insurance company will probably only increase your rates if you were at fault for the fender bender. You will notice this rate increase the next time that your policy is renewed.

The only exception to this is if you have accident forgiveness coverage, in which case, if the fender bender was your first at-fault accident, then your rates wouldn’t be affected.

You can find out more about how insurance companies calculate premiums and how accidents affect car insurance rates by reaching out to BrokerLink today.

Other common types of auto accidents

Fender benders are just one type of auto accident. There are many other categories of car accidents that happen every day in Canada, like head-on collisions, side impact collisions, rollover collisions, and more. Below, we provide a brief description of each type of accident:

Head-on collisions

Head-on collisions are one of the most serious types of collision. They occur when two cars travelling in opposite directions hit each other. Head-on collisions are most dangerous when they occur at high speeds, with possible consequences being broken bones, spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, and even death. A concussion, whiplash, and a broken collarbone are all common outcomes of head-on collisions.

Rear-end collisions

Rear-end collisions are another category of car accidents in Canada. These are also known as fender benders. A fender bender is often an example of a rear-end collision. They occur when one vehicle accidentally hits the back of another. Injuries that may arise from rear-end accidents include whiplash, soft tissue injuries, and traumatic brain injuries.

Sideswipe collisions

Sideswipe collisions involve two vehicles colliding from the side. This usually happens when cars travel in the same direction, though it can also happen when vehicles travel in opposite directions. Sideswipe accidents typically happen at high speeds, which is what makes them so dangerous. Even if the initial accident damage isn’t that bad, being hit from the side can cause a driver to swerve, which could result in them colliding with another car, pedestrian, or object, making the accident even worse.

Side impact collisions

Side impact collisions take place when a car hits the side of your car head-on. A prime example of a side impact collision is a T-bone collision. Since the driver is less protected on the side, this type of accident is more likely to result in back injuries, soft tissue injuries, neck injuries, head and traumatic brain injuries, pelvic injuries, and abdominal injuries.

Rollover collisions

Rollover collisions are when a vehicle physically rolls or turns over on the road. These can be single-vehicle collisions or the result of one car hitting another. For a vehicle to rollover, it needs to have a considerable amount of force, which usually means speed is involved. For this reason, rollover accidents are most likely to happen on the highway. They are extremely serious and can be fatal or lead to traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, broken bones, and soft tissue injuries.

Truck and commercial vehicle collisions

One final category of car accidents is truck and commercial vehicle collisions. This isn’t a style of accident. Rather, it’s an accident that involves a specific category of vehicle: trucks. Commercial trucks are very large and heavy in size. They also may be more prone to tipping when travelling at high speeds or on curved roads. Since most passenger cars are far smaller and lighter than commercial vehicles, getting into an accident that involves a commercial vehicle can have life-threatening repercussions. If the accident isn’t fatal, it can still result in burns, spinal cord injuries, broken bones, and traumatic brain injuries.

Get in touch with BrokerLink to learn more about how to handle fender bender accidents

One of our friendly, licensed, and experienced insurance advisors would be pleased to provide additional information on the driving behaviours that most often lead to fender benders, what you can do to avoid getting into a fender bender, and what to do if you find yourself involved in one.

As insurance experts, we can also provide insight into the insurance claims process, as well as explain how your car insurance premium might be impacted if you get into a fender bender.A BrokerLink representative can also explain what to do if a car crashes into your home and help you file a car insurance claim.

For more information on car insurance or to request a free auto insurance quote, reach out to BrokerLink today.

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