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Car Insurance Claims

You never want to end up in a situation resulting in you having to file an insurance claim, however, unexpected situations do occur. It's good to know what to expect if you ever end up having to file a claim. Certain circumstances such as an auto collision, vehicle damage other than collision (i.e. fire, vandalism, etc.), and vehicle theft all require you to file a claim. There are additional situations that require a claim to be filed but these will vary depending on the type of coverage and specifics of your policy. For more information on coverage types see our car insurance coverages guide.

What to do when you're involved in a car accident:
If you're involved in a car accident and someone is injured or there is property damage over the provincial limit, the police must be called to the scene. Some locations including Toronto have special Collision Reporting Centres where accidents may be reported. After an accident happens it is important to follow these rules:

  • Never leave the scene of an accident you're involved in.
  • Move your vehicle out of traffic to avoid further damage to it.
  • Do not drive your vehicle if it is not safe to do so.
  • Record information about the accident including location, date and time, injuries, damage to the vehicle, road conditions, and any other details you can recall pertaining to the accident.
  • Collect information from individuals involved in the accident including the driver's name, address, licence number as well as insurance company name and policy number.
  • Obtain contact information from other important individuals, including potential eye witnesses as well as the name and badge number for the police officer that was called to the scene.
  • If possible, take pictures of the damage to your vehicle and any others involved in the accident.

It is also important to report the accident to your licenced insurance representative within seven days. All accidents, regardless of fault, must be reported. The insurance company will then assign a person to handle your claim.

What if your vehicle has been damaged:
When your vehicle has been damaged the type of compensation you receive will depend on whether you're found to be at fault and the type of coverage you have.

If you have optional collision coverage and are involved in an accident where you're at fault, you'll be covered up to the specified limit in your policy minus your deductible. However if you do not have collision coverage, the insurance company will not cover the cost of the damages. When you're found at fault, your insurance rate will likely increase at renewal.

Whether you're found at fault will depend on the assessment done by the insurance company, which uses Fault Determination Rules, covering dozens of types of accidents. You can be found anywhere from 0% to 100% at fault. Your rate would generally increase if you're found at least 25% at fault in an accident. Fault assigned by insurance companies is done independent of police. This means that just because you've been given a ticket by a police officer as a result of an accident does not mean that you'll be found to be at fault by the insurance company, and vice versa.

Things work differently when you're found not at fault. If you have Direct Compensation - Property Damage Coverage (mandatory in Ontario) you will be covered up to your no-fault percentage assigned by the insurance company within the specified limit in your policy even if you don't have collision coverage.

If you're involved in an accident with a motorist who's not insured, you can make a claim for the damages to your car under the Uninsured Automobile coverage portion of your policy, as long as the person can be identified.

If you're vehicle has been damaged, the insurance company will determine whether to cover the cost of repairing the vehicle or completely write it off. The decision will be based on the lower option of the cost of repairing the vehicle or cash value of the vehicle at the time of the accident (for write-off).

If the cost of repairing the vehicle is less than the cash value of the vehicle, the insurance company might recommend preferred body shops. However, you are still free to choose your own body shop. The only downside of using a body shop not on the insurance company's preferred list is that you will have to deal directly with the body shop in the case of any issues with the repairs. It is important to note that you should not get any repairs done for your vehicle until the insurance company has had a chance to review the claim and authorize the repairs to avoid any potential disputes.

What happens if you've been injured in a car accident?
If you've been injured in a car accident you may be entitled to benefits under the Accident Benefit Coverage portion of your policy. In case of injuries, your insurance company will provide you with accident benefits claims forms, which must be completed in order to process your claim. You can make a claim regardless of who's at fault.

What happens if you have to make a non-accident related claim?
If your vehicle is damaged in a non-accident type of circumstance (i.e. vandalism, fire, etc.) compensation will depend on the type of coverage you have. If you have comprehensive coverage, all perils coverage, or specific perils coverage, you will be covered up to the specified limit in your policy minus your deductible. This will also apply if your car is stolen but the belonging in your car may not be covered under your auto insurance policy.

While your insurance rates will not go up as a result of making a claim, making several claims may result in the insurance company increasing your deductible or even discontinuing your coverage.
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