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How to file a car insurance claim after a collision

April 20, 2022
3 mins
A close up view of damage to two black vehicles

This article has been updated from a previous version.

Being involved in an automobile collision can be upsetting, and figuring out your next steps can be confusing and overwhelming.

Fortunately, there are people whose job it is to help you file an insurance claim. If a collision occurs, notify your insurance company within seven days of the event. If you don’t, your claim may not be honoured.

Whether the collision was a minor fender-bender or a more serious crash, your auto policy will pay for damages depending on your coverages. For instance, if you have optional collision coverage, your policy should cover the costs of damage to your vehicle. If it is determined you are at fault for the accident, you will need to pay a deductible before your insurance provider pays out.

Above all else, it’s important to stay calm and ensure everyone is safe after getting into a collision. When it’s time to file an auto claim, you might be able to do so online or through your insurance provider’s mobile app if they have one. Regardless, here are some things to remember that will help make the claims-filing process easier:

Step 1: Check for injuries and call the police if required

Always report a collision to the police if someone is injured, if the damage to both vehicles is more than $2,000, or if you suspect a driver may be guilty of a criminal offence, such as impaired driving. You are also required to call the police if the collision involves a pedestrian or cyclist, a government vehicle, an uninsured driver, an unlicensed driver, or if there is damage to private or public property.

Step 2: Take notes and pictures to file an auto claim

Document details of the collision, including where and when it happened. Take photographs or a video of the scene if possible. When filing your claim, you will also need to provide your insurance company with:

  • Your insurance policy number
  • A description of the collision, including the weather conditions
  • The names and driver’s licence numbers of all drivers involved
  • The year, make, and model of the vehicles involved, and their licence plate numbers
  • The police officer’s information or the corresponding collision report number, if applicable

Do not take responsibility for the collision at the scene or assume you are liable. Your insurance provider will determine the fault for the collision based on your province’s fault determination rules. Don’t accept cash from another driver after a collision or agree to forget about the collision altogether — you could void your policy.

Step 3: Ask your insurance provider where to get your vehicle fixed

If your car requires repairs, ask your insurance company if it has a list of preferred repair shops in your area. Sometimes insurance companies have partnerships with repair shops that make processing the claim and getting your car repaired faster.

Ensure that your insurance company agrees to pay for all repairs before you have the work completed. Ask how your insurance provider handles supplemental repairs if the auto shop finds more damage to your car than the original estimate states.

Step 4: Check all repairs to your vehicle

After your vehicle is fixed, inspect the repair work at the auto shop and get a receipt that details all the work they completed. Make sure that the name and address of the shop are on the receipt. You might need to submit the final bill to your car insurance provider.

Lastly, an automobile collision can increase your premium upon renewal if you are found to be at fault. Compare auto insurance quotes to ensure you are paying the lowest possible rate.

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Liam Lahey

Liam Lahey is a versatile marketer with experience as a staff and freelance writer for many business and technology publications and newspapers. He previously worked as the editor and media spokesperson for RATESDOTCA, handling home, auto, and travel insurance topics.

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