There are over 8 million drivers in Ontario. Every day, millions of us get into our cars and head out to go to work, run errands or just to take in the scenery. None of us get into our cars anticipating that we’ll get into an accident. Yet, according to the Ministry of Transportation, 67,000 accidents occur every year in Ontario. That’s 185 accidents per day! 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 you be labelled as a high-risk driver? What about accident forgiveness? And how does an insurance company determine who’s at-fault in an accident? We aim to answer all of your questions below.
WHAT IS AN AT-FAULT ACCIDENT?
An at-fault accident is a car accident caused by a driver’s negligence. Legally, negligence is failing to take reasonable care to prevent harm to another person. This could mean you failed to do something, such as stopping at a red light, or you did something careless, like driving while fatigued. In Ontario, your insurance company will handle your claim payout. In a traditional at-fault system, the driver found to be at fault will be responsible for paying for the damages of both drivers! Resolving and settling the damages can take months.
HOW DOES AN INSURANCE COMPANY DETERMINE WHO IS AT-FAULT?
Each insurance company will investigate the accident to determine fault. The Fault Determination Rules your insurer will use are province-wide, and all insurance companies must use them. These regulations are laid out by the province’s Insurance Act. If you are involved in an accident, you can be found responsible anywhere from zero fault to 100% at-fault.
- Cars travelling in the same direction and lane
- Vehicles travelling in the same direction in adjacent lanes
- When travelling 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 decide who(m) was at fault for the car accident. If, as the driver, you are at least 25% responsible, you will likely see your auto insurance rates change.
IF THE POLICE CHARGE ME WITH A DRIVING OFFENSE, WILL I AUTOMATICALLY BE AT-FAULT FOR THE ACCIDENT?
No. Being charged by the police 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 doesn’t mean you’re off the hook, either. If the brakes on your car fail and you rear-end another vehicle, you would be at-fault based upon the Fault Determination Rules. But, you would probably not be charged with any driving offense.
IF I’M FOUND TO BE AT-FAULT, WILL MY INSURANCE COMPANY COVER ME?
Yes. Ontario has a ‘no-fault’ auto insurance system. The No-Fault system in Ontario allows for you to be compensated for your losses quickly. The No-Fault Insurance was created to simplify the claims process because your insurer deals with your claim. Regardless of fault, you have an entitlement for compensation to cover your losses.
CAN I APPEAL AN AT-FAULT DECISION WITH MY INSURANCE COMPANY?
You can appeal an at-fault decision with your insurance company. This is one of the reasons why it is important to document every aspect of an accident. If you feel your insurer’s decision is wrong, you can appeal it. Dashboard cameras are gaining popularity each year. In order to appeal, you first need to find out what lead to you being at-fault. Next, present any extra information you have that may clear you. Every insurance company has a system in place. Often a third-party will make the final decision. For more information about what your insurer will need to know after an accident, click here.
HOW DOES AN AT-FAULT ACCIDENT IMPACT YOUR AUTO INSURANCE?
If you are found 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, your insurance premiums will be affected.
Common ways that your insurance company may react to an at-fault accident
- For a first time at-fault accident, your premium may not change if you have been a claim- and conviction-free driver for six or more years. If there is a change, it will likely be small. The first time you have an at-fault accident, it goes on your record. It will take six years of claim-free and conviction-free driving to clear it completely.
- For a second at-fault accident within five years, your insurance premiums will likely go up. Depending on the severity and circumstances of the accidents, you can be labelled as a high-risk driver. You will need to drive claims-free for the next six years to clear this from your record.
Three or more at-fault accidents will guarantee being labelled a high-risk driver. Your auto insurance rates will go up, and finding cheap insurance will be hard.
WHAT HAPPENS IF I AM LABELLED A HIGH-RISK DRIVER?
With two or more at-fault accidents on your record, you are likely labelled 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 more difficult. The best way to access affordable high-risk car insurance is to utilize the knowledge of our isure brokers. 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 here!