The daily commute is going along as expected when suddenly, your heart stops and your stomach drops as soon as you hear the crunch and feel the impact. You’ve just gotten into a car accident!
What happens next is very important. After the initial shock wears off, you realize that you don’t know what to do next. Perhaps you have never been involved in an acciden, but even the most experienced drivers can get into accidents. Before you pick up your phone to call a tow truck or the police, here are the six steps you should follow when reporting a car accident in Ontario.
Step 1: Stop your vehicle and secure your safety
If you are involved in a car accident in Ontario, it is important that you ensure you and your passenger’s safety, as well as the other driver involved. Turn on your four-way lights (hazard lights, four-way flashers) and set up road flares if you have them, especially on dimly-lit roads. It is important that all persons remain in the car for safety. Remember, in the province of Ontario, you could face criminal prosecution charges if you do not stop the car after an accident. Most importantly, remain calm!
Step 2: Call the police
The 9-1-1 operator will assess the details and dispatch the police, ambulance and/or fire on the scene:
- If there are injuries to yourself, your passengers or in the other vehicle
- If the damage to any of the vehicles exceeds $2000
- If you suspect that any of the other drivers involved may be driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, in which case they would be guilty of a Criminal Code offence.
If none of the above criteria apply, it is considered a minor accident.
*For minor accidents, call the nearest Collision Reporting Centre in your area and have the vehicle assessed as soon as you’ve completed this step-by-step guide to car accident reporting in Ontario.
Step 3: Get out of the car (if it’s safe) and take photos
If it is safe to do so, get out of your car. If you have access to a digital camera or a cellphone, you should take pictures of your vehicle, all other vehicles involved and the scene of the accident, noting any debris on the road or weather conditions.
Step 4: Move your car when safe to do so
Once you’ve assessed the damages of your car, check the exterior (e.g. tires, front and rear bumpers, doors) to make sure it’s drivable and if you can, move your car to the side of the road, away from traffic. If this is not possible due to the damage sustained by the accident, then make sure that your hazard lights are on and set up road flares, cones or triangles and contact police for assistance. To help make your vehicle more noticeable, you can raise the hood of your car to make sure it stands out.
“Rubbernecking” is a common past time on our roads, unfortunately. Remain in your car if it is not possible to move safely to a nearby sidewalk in order to avoid other drivers slowing down to try and get a closer look at the scene. It is a good idea to have an emergency roadside kit in your vehicle at all times, equipped with a blanket for the colder months.
According to the FSCO website, an emergency roadside kit can include:
- pen and paper;
- basic first aid kit;
- a disposable camera;
- emergency road flares, warning triangles or cones;
- a fire extinguisher (A-B-C Type);
- a flashlight and extra batteries;
- bottled water;
- booster cables;
- tire repair kit and pump;
- a small tool kit;
- a towel;
- a pair of work gloves;
- some type of non-perishable food;
- hand wipes; and
- thermal blanket.
Step 5: Record the details of the accident
Record information. You should keep a pad of paper and pen handy in the glovebox of your car in case of an emergency. You may also use your cell phone to audio record as much of the information as possible. Taking notes on your cell phone and sending it to yourself later as an email is also a helpful tip to keep a written record of the details of the accident. Below are some key pieces of information to document:
- Date & time
- Weather conditions
- Road conditions (photos of the scene to corroborate are helpful)
- Estimated speed
- Description of the accident
- Estimated speed traveled at the time of the accident
- Draw a diagram of the accident, if possible
It is important to try and take notes as soon as possible to ensure the accuracy of the details while they are still fresh in your mind. It is also crucial to have these details recorded before talking to others that may influence your statement or alter your recollection of the accident.
What you need from the other driver involved in the accident:
- Phone number
- Driver’s license number
- Vehicle make, model and color
- Registered owner of the vehicle (as it could be different form the driver)
- Damage to their vehicle
- Vehicle Information Number (VIN)
- Insurance company
- Insurance policy number & expiry
- Number of passengers in the car
- Names of the passengers and their positions in the car at the time of the accident (e.g. rear driver’s side)
- If there are any witnesses, ask for their names and contact details as well
Step 6: Call your isure broker
Call your isure broker immediately to inform your insurance company that you have been in a car accident. Let them know what happened and ask for next steps. It is the role of your brokerto help you. You must submit a report within 7 days, ideally 24 hours.
What information does your insurance company need?
- Insurance information: The policy owner’s name and policy number.
- Information on your car: Include the year, make and model of your vehicle.
- Accident details: Provide all the information that you have written down and/or can remember.
- Other driver’s information collected at the scene: Present their driver’s license, insurance and license plate information.
- Reporting officer information: Have the name and badge of the reporting officer (if one attended the scene of the accident.)
Accident reporting completed. What’s next?
Depending on the severity of the damage, you may require your car to be towed to the accident reporting center for appraisal. It is common for two trucks to arrive at the scene of an accident before emergency responders or police. Before allowing your car to be hooked up to the tow truck, be sure to inquire what the towing charge will be and do not sign any documents unless you fully understand what you are signing.
When you get to the Collision Reporting Centre, you will fill out a collision report. An officer will then check the damage against your report to determine if the damage they can see matches your reporting.
Depending on your insurance policy, you likely have OPCF27, which covers your rental car after an accident. If you have collision and comprehensive coverage, you can waive the rental car insurance, too.
Be aware of service fraud after an accident
There are always a few bad apples that can spoil the bunch, and this can be especially true of towing service drivers. They will break municipal bylaws by giving unsolicited recommendations to repair shops. What can sometimes happen is that the recommended mechanic will inflate the repair charges, resulting in a kick back to the tow truck drivers, known as “chasers.” In the end, it’s the policyholders that end up paying by way of higher premiums.
If you have a CAA (Canadian Automobile Association) you are eligible for getting a tow for up to 320 km, depending on your membership type. Another way to find a reliable tow is to ask the police officer on scene to recommend a tow truck operator. Most insurers have a “preferred choice” list of auto garages with discount rates. Ask your tow truck driver to take you to one of your insurer’s preferred garages.
A flat rate of $166 plus tax or $188 plus tax is commonly charged by towing companies, depending on if the vehicle was towed from a street or a highway. Check with Toronto Police Services for more details.
Do I need a police report for my insurance?
It is always a good idea to take precautions and call the police to find out whether or not you will be required to file a police report. Filing a police report in Ontario is fairly straightforward. You will be asked for specific information by a police officer at the scene or the accident reporting center. Follow their instructions for filling out police report documentation.
Will my insurance go up after a car accident?
If you are found at-fault, generally speaking, you can expect your premiums to go up. There are exceptions, however, including if you have accident forgiveness on your policy, which means they essentially ignore a first-time accident.
Whenever there is a collision, someone is always considered to be ‘at-fault’ – fully or partially. Assessing at-fault accidents helps insurance companies determine accident coverage rates for each driver, which helps keep your premiums lower when you renew your policy.
Insurance companies use At-Fault Accident Determination Rules to determine who bears fault and how much, so that all accidents are assessed fairly.
In Ontario, no-fault insurance means you’ll deal with your own car insurance company for claims. Your report, along with the police report, are critical components to assigning fault. However, your insurance company will have the final say. Know that you can be found partially at-fault, which in other words, means anywhere from 0% to 100% at-fault in a collision.
- Be careful not to admit or take responsibility for the accident while talking to the other drivers
- Be sure not to argue with others at the scene – save your story for the police once they arrive
- Do not assume liability or take responsibility for the accident. Never sign statements admitting fault or promise to pay for any damages at the scene (this will incriminate you)
- Be on the lookout for unauthorized tow truck operators
After an accident, remain calm and work with your insurance broker afterwards. If you’re injured, there are accident benefits to cover medical costs and even lost income. If your car is a write-off, you may get a full replacement or at least some money towards buying a new car depending on ACV or replacement costs.
At isure, our brokers have your best interests at heart and work hard to provide a 24/7 stress-free claims service. From initial response to getting it fixed, we’re here to provide you fast, friendly service. For more information, contact your isure broker today.