What information do I need to collect if I'm in a car accident?
We hope your defensive driving skills help you avoid being in an accident (see our Blog post on defensive driving tips), but that doesn't mean you shouldn't be prepared 'just in case'.
Most people find it difficult to think clearly after an accident so having a checklist on hand to rely on is a great aid.
The purpose of a checklist is to help guide you through the information you need to collect immediately after an accident regarding the other drivers, passengers, witnesses, vehicles, and insurance companies involved.
It's important to get as much information as possible to help your insurance company process your claim without delay, including assessing fault, and determining whether your deductible can be waived.
DOWNLOAD our FREE CHECKLIST and keep it in your glove compartment with your vehicle registration and insurance papers.
(Our checklist also includes information about when you need to call Emergency Services or local police, as well as the hours and locations of Toronto Collision Reporting Centres.)
When do I need to report an accident to the police?
There are different steps to follow after an accident depending on the circumstances.
Phone Emergency Services at 911 if:
Anyone has been injured (including any pedestrians or cyclists)
Damage to all vehicles appears to be more than $2000
A driver appears to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs
A vehicle is uninsured
A driver’s license is suspended or expired
You suspect you may be a victim or target of a scam or fraud
Phone Police non-emergency number if:
There are no injuries
Damage to all vehicles is estimated to be less than $2000
You will be advised whether police are being dispatched to the scene of the accident, and what your next steps are.
The above information is included in our Accident Checklist.
How do insurance companies determine fault?
In Ontario, insurance companies must determine fault in accordance with the province's Fault Determination Rules (FDR). These rules are regulated by the government under the Ontario Insurance Act.
The Fault Determination Rules cover more than 40 accident situations and use diagrams to illustrate almost every possible scenario. To view the Rules click here.
It's important to note that The Fault Determination rules apply regardless of: road or weather conditions, visibility, point of impact, or the actions of pedestrians or cyclists - a detail that some people find hard to accept if one of these factors contributed towards their accident! But, under the Act, the onus is on the driver to keep control of the vehicle at all times, regardless of conditions.
Police, on the other hand, determine fault under the Highway Traffic Act, not the Fault Determination Rules. (Yes, this does mean that there are 2 sets of "rules" in play).
More Accident FAQs...
Q. Will my insurance premiums go up if I'm not at-fault for the accident?
A. Usually, no. However, each insurance company has their own criteria for assessing 'risk' so it is possible.
Q. Under what circumstances do I need to pay my deductible?
A. a) if your insurance company has determined you are at-fault for the accident
b) if your car repairs are completed before your insurance company has been able to confirm with the other insurance company that their driver is at-fault (once that's done your insurance company will reimburse you)
c) if the other driver is at fault for the accident and is not insured (We know, doesn't seem fair does it!)
Q. Will the police automatically send a copy of the accident report to my insurance company?
A. No, your insurance company has to order and pay for it from the appropriate police department.
Q. Are accidents that occur on private property (i.e. parking lots) treated any differently?
A. Yes, most insurance companies assign fault equally between the number of cars involved (i.e. 4 cars= 25% fault for each)
Q. If I don't report an accident to my insurance company will they find out about it?
A. Probably. If the other driver reports the accident to their insurance company, that insurance company is required by law to contact your insurance company to confirm the accident details. Also, Collision Reporting Centres automatically send reports to the insurance companies of all parties involved in the accident (but you do have the right to ask them not to).