When do you report an accident, when don’t you, and what are the consequences? Below are some valuable guidelines to help you know what to do if you get in a collision.
- Recently been involved in a collision? Compare car insurance rates to see if you can pay less for your coverage.
Reporting an Accident: No injuries and damages are within your province’s threshold
Police Reporting: Each province sets a dollar value for estimated damages that will determine if you need to involve the police. In Alberta and Ontario, for example, the threshold is $2,000. What’s this mean? You are not required to report an accident to the police if the total damage is less than that outlined by the province. This limit includes the damage to both vehicles.
- The limit in Ontario and Alberta used to be $1,000; however, in 2011 Alberta upped the limit to $2,000 while Ontario upped the limit in the fall of 2015.
Insurance Company Reporting: Your insurance policy states that you are required to report all accidents, regardless of the amount of damage. Many drivers believe that if they pay the damages themselves they don’t need to involve the insurer; this is not true. Your insurer needs to be kept in the loop of any collision.
Even if the damages do not meet the provincial threshold limit for reporting to police in Ontario, for example, you still need to report the incident to your Ontario auto insurance company.
Tip: When in an accident that is not your fault, having a dash cam recorder for video coverage may increase the chances that your insurance company will side with you in case of a claim.
Reporting an Accident: No injuries and damages exceed your province’s threshold
Police Reporting: By law, you are required to report an accident if the damage exceeds your province’s limit (Alberta and Ontario’s is $2,000). In other words, if you’re an Ontario resident and one vehicle sustains $1000 in estimated damages and the other vehicle is dinged for $1001 in damages, you are required to report it to the police or a Collision Reporting Centre.
Failing to report an accident to the police when it’s required by law means you are running the risk of being charged with leaving the scene. Leaving the scene of a collision is a serious conviction that could result in a hefty increase to your car insurance rates, fines, and even jail time.
Insurance Company Reporting: You are required to report all collisions to your auto insurance company. If you don’t report it, and the other driver does, their insurance company could contact yours in the process of settling the claim. If it is determined that you were partially or wholly at-fault for the collision—even if you paid for the damages yourself—your rates may end up reflecting that you were involved in an accident.
What about collisions that occur on private property, like parking lots?
For the most part, a parking lot accident is no different than a collision that occurs while driving on the street, road or highway. The police will need to be notified if there are injuries, or if there are damages that exceed your province’s threshold. And, even though it may be private property, you need to notify your insurer if you’re involved in a collision.
- Related Read: Driving Infractions, Tickets and Penalties
Scenarios when reporting an accident is required, no matter what the value of property damage
There are times when you must, by law, report a collision to the police no matter how much—or little—property damage has been sustained, like when the collision involves:
- Injury (no matter how minor) or death
- A criminal act like impaired driving
- A government vehicle (Federal, Provincial or Municipal)
- A vehicle that is transporting dangerous goods
- Uninsured or unlicensed drivers
- Damage to private, municipal or highway property (think a homeowner’s lawn, telephone pole or guard rail)
- Pedestrians or bicyclists
And, like all other collisions, a call to your insurance provider is required in order to make sure you’re covered in the event of a claim.
Article updated to include video, and change in Ontario's reporting requirement.