Will a single-vehicle collision affect your auto insurance?

8 minute read Published on Mar 10, 2024 by BrokerLink Communications

A side view of a head-on car crash into a tree

After being involved in a single-vehicle accident in your car, you might be wondering if and how it will affect your car insurance rates. As you probably already know, collisions can increase your premium, but they don’t always result in this, depending on the circumstances of the accident. Continue reading to find out more about single-vehicle collisions and how they impact car insurance.

Single-vehicle accidents

Let’s start by diving into the topic of single-vehicle accidents. There are many types of common car accidents, and single-vehicle accidents are one of them. Unlike accidents that involve multiple drivers or a driver and a pedestrian, single-vehicle accidents only involve one vehicle and one driver. There are many ways that a single-vehicle collision may occur. For example, a driver might accidentally drive off the road, drive over a large object, loose debris on the road, or hit an animal. Colliding with a rock, tree, median, or lamppost is another type of single-vehicle accident. As with most types of accidents, the most common causes of single-vehicle accidents are distracted driving, speeding, and impaired driving.

While single-vehicle accidents can happen anywhere and at any time, there are certain situations in which they are more likely to occur. For example, on dark, rural, or curvy roads, on roads with high-speed limits, on roads with only one or two lanes, when a car has two or more occupants, when a person is driving during inclement weather, and when a driver is fatigued, speeding, distracted, or under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Please note that just because single-vehicle accidents only involve one driver, that doesn’t make them any less dangerous. You can still be injured in a car accident that only involves one car, and you should report the car accident once it's safe to do so.

Car insurance and single-vehicle collisions

If you get into a single-vehicle collision, it can impact your auto insurance rates, especially since drivers in single-vehicle collisions are usually found to be liable. Since there are no other people or drivers involved, the driver of the car is usually found to be at fault. As you may already know, at-fault accidents can have a significant impact on auto insurance rates in Canada. They can also stay on driving records for a number of years and continue to impact a policyholder’s premium until the accident is no longer on their record.

Further, if you’re wondering whether you will have to pay for the cost of the accident, the answer is that it depends. If you have collision car insurance, then you might be covered for the cost of vehicle repairs and possibly the cost of towing after an accident, too. However, if you don’t have collision coverage, then you may be required to pay for the damages out of pocket.

Third-party liability car insurance may cover some of the damage, but you would need collision coverage if you want most or all of it to be covered. Unlike liability insurance, collision insurance is not mandatory, which means drivers have to pay extra to add it to their policies.

Collision insurance

Collision insurance is a type of optional car insurance, just like accident forgiveness coverage, that is designed to protect drivers who get into accidents that damage their cars. It is a type of property damage coverage that will pay for your vehicle to be repaired or replaced if you get into a serious collision. Unlike mandatory coverage, collision insurance will pay for the cost of repairs even if you were at fault for the accident, which is often the case with single-vehicle collisions. It will also pay for the cost of repairs, no matter if you collide with another vehicle, an animal, or a grounded object, such as a tree. For this reason, collision insurance is crucial if you find yourself involved in a single-vehicle accident.

It is worth noting that while collision coverage is not government-mandated in Canada, you may be contractually obligated to purchase it if you lease or finance your car. This is the same for comprehensive car coverage, which is often purchased in tandem with collision coverage. When you buy both together, it is known as all perils coverage.

You should prepare to pay a higher premium if you get into a single-vehicle collision

At the end of the day, any type of collision has the ability to impact your rates, and at-fault collisions almost always do. Since single-vehicle collisions usually end up being at-fault collisions, you should prepare for your premium to go up if you recently got into a single-vehicle accident. The only exception to this might be if you have accident forgiveness coverage. Accident forgiveness is additional coverage that can be added to your car insurance policy as an endorsement to protect your driving record and to help prevent your insurance premium from increasing if you have an at-fault accident claim. Note: coverage and eligibility vary by province.

That said, on the off chance that you are not deemed at fault for the collision, such as if a tire flew off of a semi nearby and hit you or a manufacturing error led your car to malfunction on the road, then your premium may not be impacted at all. A premium raise hinges on whether you are found to be liable for a single-vehicle collision.

How long do single-vehicle collisions stay on driving records?

This depends on what province you live in. For example, in Ontario, at-fault accidents remain on driving records for six years. While your rates would likely be higher during all six of these years, your premium would still decrease as the years went by. Assuming you did not rack up any other driving infractions during this time, your premium would be lower five years after your at-fault single-vehicle accident than it would be the first year after the accident.

If you want to keep your rates as low as possible, prioritize safe driving. Follow these Safe driving tips and brush up on the traffic laws in your province. If you obey all of the rules of the road, you will be far less likely to receive a traffic ticket or get into an accident. This will result in a clean record, which can help you reduce your premium.

Filing a claim with your insurance company after a single-car accident

If you’re wondering whether you can file an insurance claim after a single-car accident, the answer is most likely yes. You should always call your insurance after a minor accident, including a single-vehicle accident. They can explain the claims process and outline what type of auto insurance on your policy may apply.

For example, depending on the circumstances of the accident, you might end up filing a liability car insurance, accident benefits coverage, comprehensive coverage, or collision coverage claim. The reality is that single-vehicle accidents can have a variety of outcomes, ranging from property damage to bodily injury. You will want to file a claim so that you don’t have to pay all of these costs out of pocket.

Please note that if the damage to your car is minor and you did not suffer any bodily harm in the accident, then you may decide not to file a claim altogether - especially if you have a high deductible. In certain cases, the cost of repairs might be less than or equal to your deductible. In this scenario, it likely wouldn't make sense to proceed with an insurance claim. However, if the accident was severe, then filing a claim is likely in your best interests.

What to do after you get into a single-vehicle car accident

If you get into a single-vehicle car accident, you might be wondering what to do after it happens. It is human nature to want to remove yourself from a stressful and potentially dangerous situation as quickly as possible. And since no other person is involved in a single-vehicle accident, you might be wondering if you’re allowed to leave once you deem it safe to do so.

However, fleeing the scene of an accident, even of a single-vehicle accident, is not the wisest decision. It is good practice never to leave the scene before there is an official record of the accident. This is especially true if there is a chance that the driver is not at fault for the collision. So before you drive off, call 9-1-1 or the authorities, contact your insurance company, and start documenting the accident. What we mean by documenting the accident is taking photos, videos, and notes about the collision. If necessary, you may also need to get in touch with a mechanic who can take a look at your car. If you are unable to drive your car, call a friend or tow truck.

Please note that if a single-vehicle collision causes property damage or harm to another, it is illegal to flee the scene. This would become known as a hit-and-run and a criminal offence in Canada. If found guilty, you could face serious fines and even jail time. Thus, it’s always best to call local law enforcement and your insurance company if you need guidance following a single-vehicle accident.

Tips to prevent single-vehicle accidents

If you want to prevent single-vehicle accidents, avoid a premium increase if you do find yourself in one, and not have to pay for the cost of the accident out of pocket, follow the tips below:

Add car insurance coverage that protects against single-vehicle accidents

We’re mostly talking about collision and comprehensive coverage. By adding these coverages to your policy, your insurer will issue a payout to help cover the cost of the single-vehicle accident, no matter the circumstances surrounding it. Whether you hit a deer or hit a patch of black ice and skidded off the road, insurance will cover you. You can also add accident forgiveness coverage to your plan if you want to be covered for your first at-fault accident. With this type of coverage, your insurance rates won’t increase.

Avoid distractions while driving

Since distracted driving is one of the leading causes of accidents, including single-vehicle accidents, avoiding distractions can help reduce the odds of getting into an accident in the first place. To minimize distractions, leave your cell phone in the back seat, change the radio station or set your GPS device before you back out of the driveway, and abstain from eating, drinking or texting while the car is in drive.

Always obey the speed limit

Part of driving safely is driving the speed limit. Since speeding is another common cause of single-vehicle accidents, driving the speed limit can help you avoid a collision. Always take note of the posted speed limit and never exceed it. In addition, drivers should drive below the speed limit when driving at night, through construction zones, in inclement weather like fog or snow, or when driving in areas with heavy pedestrian traffic.

Watch for wildlife

Keeping your eyes peeled for wildlife when driving in wooded areas and during mating and hunting season is also important. A portion of single-vehicle collisions occur due to animals, so make sure that you are vigilant about potential wildlife where you drive.

Reach out to BrokerLink to learn more about car insurance and single-vehicle collisions

Give BrokerLink a call today to learn more about how accidents like single-vehicle collisions impact car insurance. One of our licensed insurance advisors would also be happy to provide you with a car insurance quote completely free of charge. Get in touch with us today to get started!

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