Impact of at fault accident on auto insurance
There are 9.9 million drivers in Ontario. Every day, millions of them get in their car and start driving. The clear majority will go about their day without a single issue in their car. No one gets into their car anticipating getting into an accident, and as such, most don’t. Yet, according to the Ministry of Transportation, 67,000 accidents occur every year in Ontario. That’s 185 accidents per day. Good drivers everywhere in Ontario can get into an at fault accident that impacts their lives. At their worst, an at fault accident could lead to dramatic changes to yours and the lives of others. At best, an at fault accident affects your auto insurance premiums.
If you have been in an at fault accident, you may have questions about what that means for you. Will your insurance premiums go up? Will I be a high risk driver? What about accident forgiveness? And how does an insurance company determine who’s at fault in an accident? At isure, we help our clients navigate the path ahead while answering any of your questions!
What is an At Fault Accident?
An at fault accident is where you are the cause of the accident. At fault definitions are flexible, as accidents can result in shared responsibility. You can be completely at fault, or partially at fault – it comes down to the circumstances of the accident. The spectrum of fault is between 0-100%. Any driver found to be more than 0% at fault for the accident will have an at fault accident listen on your insurance record.
How does an insurance company determine who is at fault?
In all accidents, there will be at least one party that is partially or fully at fault. An insurance company determines who is at fault for an accident based upon the “Fault Determination Rules (R.R.O. 1990, Regulation 668)”. This document, linked here, goes through all the specifics that need to be determined based upon an accident to determine who is at fault. It breaks accidents down into the following categories:
- Cars traveling in the same direction and lane.
- Vehicles traveling in the same direction in adjacent lanes.
- When traveling in opposite directions.
- Cars meeting at an intersection.
- Events that occur in a parking lot.
- Other circumstances that don’t fit the above categories.
It also lists the rules of what happens if a driver is charged with a driving offense by police such as a DUI or high risk driving. From that document, insurers will be able to decide who(m) was at fault for the car accident. Drivers who are at least 25% responsible, will likely see their auto insurance rates change.
If the police charge me with a driving offense, will I automatically be at fault for the accident?
No, the police charging you with a driving offense does not automatically mean that you are at fault for the accident. Conversely, the police not charging you with a driving offense does not mean you’re not at fault either. If the brakes on your car fail, and you rear end another vehicle – based upon the Fault Determination Rules, you would be at fault. But, you would be unlikely to be charged with any driving offense.
If I’m found to be at fault, will by insurance company cover me?
Yes. Ontario has a ‘no fault’ auto insurance system. What this means is that regardless of who is at fault, you deal with your own insurance company and they cover you. This helps to avoid any kind of delays in payments. Insurance companies will still assign at fault percentages for each of the drivers involved.
Can I appeal an at fault decision with my insurance company?
You can appeal an at fault decision with your insurance company. One of the reasons why it is important to document every aspect of an accident is if you feel the decision was wrong. It’s why dash cams have grown in use in recent years. First, find out what lead to you being at fault, then present any extra information you have that may clear you. Every insurance company has a system in place, often with a third party that will make a final decision.
How does an at fault accident impact your auto insurance?
If you are determined to be more than 0% at fault for a car accident, you will have an at fault accident listed on your record. If you are more than 25% at fault, you may see a change in your insurance premiums. Here are some of the common ways that an insurance company may react to an at fault accident:
- For a first time at fault accident, if you have been a claim and conviction free driver for 6 or more years, your premium may not change. If there is a change, it will likely be small. The first time you have an at fault accident goes on your record. It will take 6 years of claim free and conviction free driving to clear it completely.
- For a second time at fault accident within 5 years, your insurance premiums will likely go up. Depending on the severity and circumstances of the accidents, you could be a high risk driver. You will need to drive claim free for the next 6 years to clear this from your record.
- Three or more at fault accidents will guarantee being a high risk driver. Your auto insurance rates will go up, and finding cheaps insurance will be hard.
What happens if I am a high risk driver?
With two or more at fault accidents on your record, you are likely a high risk driver. High risk insurance is offered by fewer insurers than general providers. As such, premiums are higher and finding cheap high risk insurance is harder. The best way to access affordable high risk car insurance is to use isure. We compare the rates of insurance companies in Ontario to find you the best policy for the best price. You can request an obligation free insurance quote online right now. If you want to have the high risk designation removed from your record, you will need to drive safely without any accidents or claim for 6 years.
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