Hopefully, you will never be in a car accident and will not have to worry about how to report one. However, one out of three Ontario drivers will be involved in an auto accident at some point during their life. Therefore, it is important to know the rules.
Accidents can be very stressful. Getting in one can make it hard for you to think clearly. You will probably have several questions, such as:
- Do I have to report an accident?
- Do I need to call the police?
- What about my insurance company?
To help you make the right decisions, listed below are some things to note.
Who do I report a car accident to in Ontario?
When an accident occurs, you will most likely be left wondering who to call first. Depending on the severity of the accident, you may need to call 911 and wait for emergency personnel to arrive. If anyone appears to be injured, call 911 immediately to request an ambulance; do not attempt to move them. In the case of a minor accident with no injuries, you should call your local police department or report your accident to your local collision reporting centre. For any minor accidents, we recommend you call your broker first before submitting a claim directly to your insurance company. Your broker will be able to review your coverage options, offer you guidance and walk you through the process of filing an insurance claim. We can even direct you to the closest collision reporting centre, or arrange a tow to a preferred repair facility.
When am I required to report an accident?
The requirements to report an accident depend on the severity of the accident, the extent of injuries suffered and the amount of physical damages incurred. In some cases, you may be required to immediately report an accident to the police. In other cases, you will need to report the accident to your insurance company and to a collision reporting centre once you have taken care of matters at the scene of the accident, and sometimes you do not have to report an accident at all.
1. Reporting to the Police
There are certain situations in which you are required to immediately report an accident to the police. When you do, the police will come directly to the scene. Here are five accident situations that you must report:
- Someone has been killed or injured
- There is damage to public or private property
- At least one of the drivers appears intoxicated
- The accident involves a bicyclist or pedestrian
- At least one of the drivers is unlicensed or uninsured
There is one other situation in which you have to report an accident to the police. If the total amount of damage estimated comes to over $2,000, you have to report the accident to the police. However, in that situation, the police may not come out to the scene.
2. Reporting to a Collision Reporting Centre
If none of the above situations apply, you probably do not need to call the police. However, if the damage to both vehicles combined is estimated to be over $2000 you will still need to report the accident to your insurance broker and to your local collision reporting centre. According to Ontario law, you are required to report an accident to your local collision centre within 24 hours of the accident.
If an accident occurs outside of normal business hours, you should take your car to a reporting centre the following morning. If your car is not drivable, you should have it towed to a centre. You must use the centre closest to where the accident has occurred. If there is any doubt about which centre to use, contact your broker or the local police department.
A collision reporting centre is a place where Ontario drivers go to report an accident. There are approximately 30 of these centres located in various cities throughout the province. They exist to simplify the act of reporting an accident. One of the purposes of reporting centres is to free up police officers for other duties.
When you visit the collision centre, you will need to furnish or bring with you the following information:
- Driver’s license number
- Contact information, including your name, address and phone number
- Car insurance information, including your policy number
- Vehicle information, including the make and model of your vehicle and your license plate number
- Details of the accident
3. Reporting to your Insurance Broker
Depending on the circumstances, you may still be asking so “do I really have to report an accident?” As previously mentioned, you should always call your insurance broker first. As a licensed professional, your broker will be able to review your coverage and discuss all of your possible options. If the total damage (all cars involved) in the accident is less than $2000, then you are not required to report the accident or file an insurance claim.
How do I report an accident?
As your insurance broker we’re here to guide you through the entire claim process. For non-emergency claims, contact us and we’ll gather the necessary information, answer any questions you may have, review your coverage options, and even transfer you directly to an claims adjuster if you decide to file a claim.
In the event of an after hours emergency situation, all of the companies we work with have a 24 hour emergency claim service. If needed, you can find your provider’s emergency claim number here.
Whenever there is any doubt about the correct way to report an accident, contact your broker for assistance.
What happens if I don’t report an accident?
All car insurance policies in Ontario require you to report any accidents with damage exceeding $2000 , or any of the situations discussed above. Some people are hesitant to do that because they do not want the accident to count against them on their record. They also do not want the insurance company to raise their rates because of the accident.
Failure to report an accident may result in your insurance company cancelling your policy or refusing to renew it at the end of its term. Even worse, failure to report an accident as required by law could result in a charge of leaving the scene of an accident. This could result in higher insurance rates, fines or even jail time.