What to do if you are in a car accident?

12 minute read Published on Dec 19, 2023 by BrokerLink Communications

an using mobile phone in front of a car with an open hood

So, you've been in a car accident. What do you do now? At BrokerLink, we understand how stressful the moments afterward can be, which is why it's crucial you understand what needs to be done following an accident. For safe driving tips and more information, keep reading!

Although it happened years ago, Brigitte clearly remembers the time she rear-ended somebody. She was upset, her kids were crying, and the driver was furious, shouting and waving his arms threateningly. “It was all I could do to not break down,” she recalls.

Whether you caused the accident or you are the victim, there is nothing pleasant about being in a car accident. “Emotions, and adrenaline, are running high, however it’s important you know what to do and what information to collect to get through the process efficiently,”says Mike Anderson at BrokerLink.

After you’ve taken a moment, assess the damage and address immediate danger. If anyone is injured or uncooperative or you suspect a driver is drunk or guilty of another Criminal Code offence, call 911 immediately. If someone is injured, do not move them—unless you must get them away from immediate dangers such as fire or traffic. Drive your car to the side of the road if it is safe to do so. If you can’t move it, turn it off and put on your hazards, and use cones or other warning devices to alert or redirect drivers around the scene.

If the damage to your vehicle is major, report the accident to the police. In Ontario, if the damage to your vehicle is major and exceeds more than $2,000, report the accident to the police and visit the closest Collision Reporting Centre. If your vehicle is not drivable, arrange a tow truck to take your vehicle to the nearest Collision Reporting Centre. In Alberta, you must notify police when the total damage exceeds more than $2,000.

“It doesn’t take much to reach that, so be sure to look closely,” says Mike. “Consider the value of your car and the nature of the damage.”

Make sure you get all the relevant details. Mike cautions you to be careful in your exchanges with other parties. “Never admit fault or agree to pay for repairs out of pocket.”

It’s helpful to record the details of the incident as well. Keep a disposable camera in the glove box or use your phone to photograph the scene, noting the cars’ position and direction. Also include the date, time, location, your speed and road and weather conditions.

Now you’re on your way, assuming the car is drivable. If it’s not, have it towed to a repair shop. In Ontario, be sure to report to a Collision Reporting Centre within 24 hours of the collision. If your car is not driveable, have it towed to the nearest Collision Reporting Centre.Without exception, towed vehicles in Ontario must go directly to a Collision Reporting Centre.

Report the collision to your insurance company as soon as possible and Mike recommends reporting to your local insurance broker as well. “We can help to discuss the impact of the collision on your insurance so there is no surprise when you receive your renewal,” says Mike. Also, your insurance broker can help out if you have any questions about the claims process.

“My insurance company arranged the appraisal, recommended a body shop and even set up the car rental for me,” says Brigitte. “It turned an unhappy situation into a pleasant one, all things considered.”

“The claim and repair process should go smoothly,” says Mike. “You’ve already had one unpleasant experience. Getting the damage fixed shouldn’t be another.” BrokerLink works with you to get the coverage you need. “We’ll find just the right policy. No more, no less,” he assures. “So if you ever have to make a claim, there will be no more nasty surprises.”

Things to do if you’re involved in a car accident

Car accidents can happen when you least expect them, and when they do, they can be both physically and emotionally jarring. While we all hope to never find ourselves in this unfortunate situation, it's essential to be prepared and know what to do if you're ever involved in one. Here’s a closer look at what to do if you’re in a car accident:

Step 1: Stop the car, secure your safety

As soon as it's safe to do so, bring your vehicle to a stop. Turn on your hazard lights to alert other drivers to the accident; this will decrease the chance of other drivers hitting your car while you are stopped.

Step 2: Stay calm and check for injuries

Car crashes can be terrifying and confusing. Maintaining your composure will allow you to think more clearly and make better decisions.

The burst of adrenaline following an accident could hide pain and damage. Assess yourself accordingly for any injuries, both apparent and hidden. Watch for any discomfort, distress, or strange sensations throughout your body that may cause concern.

Your capacity for clear thinking and reasoned decision-making may be compromised by stress and shock, but it's essential to check on the well-being of your passengers as well. Get verbal confirmation of any additional injuries, if possible.

Step 3: Notify emergency services if anyone is hurt

Call the police at your local police station or the local emergency services number if you believe there may be injuries among those involved in the collision.

Give the dispatcher accurate, thorough details regarding what happened and your whereabouts.

This makes it possible to guarantee the timely dispatch of the proper law enforcement and medical personnel to the accident scene.

Step 4: Move impacted vehicles out of traffic

To avoid more accidents and lessen traffic congestion, move your vehicles out of the way if it is safe to do so and they are still functional.

If you are unable to do so, proceed to safely exit the car and go onto the shoulder or sidewalk, keeping your warning signs in place and facing away from oncoming vehicles.

Step 5: Exchange info & take pictures

After confirming everyone's safety and well-being, share information with the other drivers.

Names, phone numbers, insurance information, driver's licence numbers, and car characteristics make, model, and vehicle registration numbers should all be included in the information being collected. Obtain an accurate record of what occurred.

Take pictures of the scene to record it. Take pictures of the damaged vehicles, the accident scene, the state of the road, and any pertinent traffic signals or signs.

If anyone saw the collision, you might think about getting their contact information in case you need it for legal or insurance claim reasons.

Step 6: Notify your insurer and start the claims process

Report the accident to your insurance company as soon as you can. The majority of insurers offer a 24/7 claims helpline. Provide your insurance company with all the information they require to understand the accident, including the facts you learned from the other parties. Follow the claims process instructions provided by your insurance.

They could also need copies of the accident report, police report, pictures, and a written account of what happened. Make sure you document every correspondence you have with your insurer.

Keep in mind that every auto accident is different and can have other causes. Regardless, the first and foremost priorities should always be your safety and the safety of everyone involved.

You can handle the aftermath of a car collision more effectively if you follow these guidelines, but make sure you modify them to fit your particular scenario and abide by local regulations and laws.

Common car accidents

Anything can happen on the road. However, some collisions are more common than others. Here’s a closer look at some of the most common car accidents reported to insurance companies across Canada:

  1. Crashes caused by distracted driving
  2. Weather-related accidents, whether fog, rain, ice, or snow
  3. Driving above the speed limit
  4. Impaired driving from drugs and alcohol

What information do I have to provide in a police accident report?

Reporting a car accident to the police may be necessary by law based on the specifics of the incident. For instance, in Ontario, you are required to file a police accident report if the total damage to both vehicles exceeds $2000 or if there were injuries sustained in the collision.

At the scene of the incident, dispatched police officers will ask you to provide specific information and while the info asked will vary between provinces and territories, here is a list of general details you'll be required to provide:

Driver Information

Full names, addresses, and contact information of all drivers involved in the accident.

Vehicle Information

Make, model, and year of the vehicles involved. Additionally, vehicle identification numbers (VINs) should be included, along with licence plate numbers and the issuing province and territory. You should also provide the name and contact information of your insurance company and proof of valid car insurance.

Accident details

Facts should include the date, time, and location of the incident, along with information on the intersection, city, and town.

Include a thorough explanation of how the accident happened, including any relevant circumstances, as well as information about the road and weather conditions at the time of the incident. If there were any injuries, you need to describe the kind and severity of them.

Witness information

Names, addresses, and phone numbers of any witnesses to the collision should be included. A brief overview detailing the observations made by each witness should also be included.

Details about the responding police officer

It can be a good idea to request the report number as well as the name and badge number of the responding police officer. This can make it easier for insurance adjusters who need to contact the police.

Pictures and diagrams

Any pictures or sketches showing the wreckage, the locations of the cars, and the damages.

Description of damage

A description of the harm done to each of the vehicles involved in the collision.

Accurately following the processes will assist in speeding up insurance claims and guarantee that every critical detail is recorded for insurance and legal purposes moving forward.

What should I do after a minor car accident or fender bender?

Calling your insurance company after a minor car accident is essential for a number of reasons, including:

  • Damages and injuries may not be noticeable in the beginning.
  • Your insurance company can help you with any repairs that need to be done.
  • The other driver involved may not be adequately insured.
  • If a third party decides to sue, you will have proof that you reported the incident or that the incident occurred.

Protect your vehicle with quality insurance

Not only is auto insurance required by law, but it also provides vital protection for drivers and their cars. In a world where accidents and unanticipated circumstances can occur at any time, car coverage is essential for offering peace of mind and financial protection.

There are multiple auto insurance policies available in Canada, enabling motorists to create a custom portfolio tailored to their unique needs and budget. Here is a closer look at the types of car insurance policies below:

Collision car coverage

An essential but optional provision that a person can add to their auto insurance policy for extra safety is collision car coverage. If you and your car are in a collision with another car or object, this coverage will protect you both.

Regardless of who is at fault, this policy will pay for any necessary replacements or repairs resulting from the incident. This covers hit-and-run incidents when the identity of the other driver is unknown, accidents where you are at fault, and accidents caused by other drivers. It even covers incidents where you are involved in a collision with potholes, poles, road signs, and more.

Comprehensive car coverage

Comprehensive car coverage offers extensive protection for your vehicles and is an optional plan. It covers damage from non-collision events such as fires, theft, vandalism, natural disasters, and collisions with animals. It could additionally provide glass coverage and pay for lost or stolen items inside the vehicle, depending on the terms and conditions of your plan.

Accident forgiveness

We all know that a car accident affects car insurance rates. However, if a driver is found to be at fault in their first accident, this policy helps them avoid having to pay higher insurance rates.

Insurance rates usually go up after your first at-fault collision, which can be very expensive. Keep in mind that the amount of accident forgiveness offered by each company varies. It is generally used for small wrecks that cause damage or injuries and excludes large-scale incidents.

Furthermore, this kind of insurance is usually limited to the main policyholder and is not available to supplementary divers. These terms may vary based on each individual insurance company and their underwriting criteria.

Third-party liability coverage

Liability car insurance is an essential safety precaution that protects you against any monetary obligations arising immediately from an accident in which you are found to be at fault. Property damage, medical expenses, and rehabilitation costs are all covered by this policy.

The minimum coverage mandated by each province and territory varies. That said, most motorists choose a higher level of third-party liability car insurance to ensure they have complete coverage in case they are involved in a serious incident.

Accident benefits coverage

Another obligatory insurance plan that is normally required for all drivers in Canada is accident benefits coverage. The purpose of the policy is to pay you for any harm or injuries that you and any other occupants in your car may sustain, regardless of who caused them. The policy pays for a wide range of ailments and healthcare costs.

It can potentially be expanded to include other expenses like funerals and caregiving. Even though it is mandated by law, the conditions and scope of accident benefits coverage may differ depending on your insurance company and the type of policy you choose.

Uninsured auto coverage

Uninsured automobile insurance is needed in the event of a collision involving an uninsured, underinsured, or unknown motorist. In the event that the other driver lacks enough insurance, it assumes responsibility and covers medical expenses, property damage, and other related expenses. It acts as an economic cushion, preventing you from bearing the entire cost of repairs following an accident.

Contact BrokerLink

Visit our Accident Checklist page to download a printable copy to keep in your glove box to record all the information you need.

Looking for car insurance solutions? Reach out to the BrokerLink team online, over the phone, or in person at one of our many locations across Canada!

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Car accident FAQs

What is the first thing you should do in a car accident?

Assuring safety is the first thing to do in an automobile collision. Drive the car to a secure area, such as a parking lot or the shoulder, if at all possible. To warn other drivers, turn on your hazard lights. Check yourself and the other occupants for injuries, and call 911 for assistance if needed.

What do I do if I get into a car accident in Canada?

If you get into a car accident in Canada, stop your car immediately and then put your hazard lights on. If you are able to move out of the way of traffic, do so. Checking for your safety and well-being should be a priority as well. Therefore, before exiting your vehicle, make sure to check yourself for any injuries.

Do you have to report an accident in Ontario?

Having to report a car accident in Ontario can be scary, especially if it is your first time being involved in a collision. A car collision has to be reported to the police if it causes injury, death, or property damage that exceeds $2,000. You must officially report the accident if the above criteria are met. In order to determine responsibility, record the occurrence, and facilitate the processing of insurance claims, reporting is necessary. If a situation like this is not reported, there could be legal implications and trouble getting insurance. It is not necessary to report small incidents to the police if there are no injuries or considerable property damage, but it is a good idea to share information and notify your insurance provider in order to facilitate the claims process.

What happens after I file a claim with my insurance company?

There are a few things that happen after you file a claim with your insurance provider. The insurance adjuster evaluates your claim first, looking over the damages and confirming coverage. In the event that your claim entails damage to your car, the insurance company may offer an estimate and approve repairs, either at one of their recommended repair shops or a place of your choosing. A settlement offer that includes the approved expenses less your deductible is then made available. The insurance company pays the damages, medical costs, and other qualified charges once you accept the settlement.

How do you report a car accident?

If you’ve never been involved in a collision, you may be wondering, how do you report a car accident? to do so, get in touch with the local police to guarantee your immediate safety if needed. Share contact details, names, and insurance information with other drivers. Take pictures of the scene to record it. Notify your insurance provider and include information about the event in order to start the claims procedure.

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