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No seatbelt, no claim? Here are the auto insurance implications of not buckling up

Aug. 15, 2022
5 mins
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The most recent driving statistics from the Ontario Ministry of Transportation show that people are 36 times more likely to be injured in a collision if they aren’t wearing a seatbelt. Given their remarkable effectiveness, seatbelts are legally required to be worn when driving in Canada.

While there would certainly be legal penalties for not wearing your seatbelt, what would happen to your car insurance claim if you weren’t wearing a seatbelt at the time of a collision?

Can not wearing a seatbelt at the time of a collision affect your insurance rate?

If you’re caught not wearing a seatbelt, you will receive a minor conviction that will be registered on your driving record for three years, subsequently affecting your insurance rate.

According to Fleur Dujardin, president at Onlia Insurance, being convicted of not wearing a seatbelt — whether you’re in a collision or not — would result in an increased premium from your insurance company.

“Seatbelt use is enforced by law, and as a matter of good safety we encourage every individual to use their seatbelts when travelling in a passenger vehicle,” she says.

To make sure you are always getting the lowest price for car insurance, it’s important to routinely compare different auto insurance rates.

How can your insurance company find out you weren’t wearing a seatbelt?

If you don’t voluntarily disclose that you weren’t wearing a seatbelt during the time of the accident, the only other way for your insurance company to find out would be through forensic analysis.

“Depending on the nature of the claim, insurers have various ways to determine if a seatbelt was worn,” says Dujardin. “This type of investigation is required only in certain circumstances and usually involves forensic investigations.”

By comparing the type of collision to the injuries incurred in the accident, forensics can deduce:

  • If the passengers were wearing their seatbelts properly — if at all
  • If having worn a seatbelt would have reduced the odds or severity of injury
  • If the seatbelt functioned as intended during the collision

Not wearing a seatbelt can reduce your auto insurance claim payout

Legally, not wearing a seatbelt can result in fines, demerit points, and convictions on your driving record. However, the consequences on your insurance claim can be more complicated.

According to Auger Hollingsworth Personal Injury Lawyers, if you were found not at fault for an accident, whether you were wearing a seatbelt at the time of the collision has no impact on the accident benefits you receive from your insurance company. This can include death and funeral benefits, medical rehab benefits, income replacement benefits, attendant care, or any other optional benefits you purchased with your insurance policy.

However, if you are found at –fault and weren’t wearing your seatbelt, your insurance claim may be reduced — but not eliminated — if your insurance company can prove that your failure to wear a seatbelt partially caused or contributed to your injuries. Reductions can be between 5% and 25% of the total amount awarded. However, most reductions are closer to 5%.

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Julia Stratton

Julia Stratton is a freelance writer living in Ottawa. When she’s not writing, you can find her curled up with a book, running, or cooking up adventurous new recipes in the kitchen.

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