To read an updated version of this article see 7 Things You Need To Consider Before Reporting That Car Accident.
Here's what you need to know when deciding whether to report your insurance claim, or pay it yourself.
1- Your Insurance Rate: A driver with an accident can see their insurance rate jump from $1,500 to over $5,000, and remain high for 6 years.
2 -Rate Differences: Insurance companies target their rates to certain driving profiles. There is a vast difference between insurance rates for a driver with an accident.
3 -After an accident: You need to find out what your rate increase will be, and based on your new rate, decide how to proceed.
Note: Your insurance rate does not increase in proportion to the amount of damage, regardless of whether you have a fender bender or have written off a Bentley.
- Related Read: Driving Infractions, Tickets and Penalties [Updated]
4 - Calculate Your Rate:InsuranceHotline.com tells you which insurance company has the best rate for you, given your current driving profile. Enter your current driving profile, including your accident.
5 - Lowest Rate: This will give you the three lowest rates from the top 30 insurance companies in Canada. Take the lowest rate and multiply it by 6 to get an idea of how much this accident will cost you in insurance premium over the next 6 years.
For example: Let's say the cost to repair your car is $10,000.
Your Company: If you report the accident to your insurance company and find out that your rate will increase by $3,000 annually over the next 6 years, then this accident would actually cost you $18,000. To find out what your increase would be, as your broker.
New company: By searching for the lowest insurance rate you may find a rate that represents only a $1,000 annual increase, over the next 6 years, resulting in a $6,000 insurance increase.
In this case, it may be worth claiming the accident on your insurance with your present company, then switching to the new company upon renewal of your policy.
6 -Repeat Process: Every year for the next 6 years your rate should decrease. If you search for the insurance company with the lowest rate every year, you should find one as your accident gets "older". Then if you wish, switch to that company.
7 -Paying Your Own Claim: If you choose to pay your own claim, particularly in a single vehicle accident, you protect your insurance rate from an increase. If you've had a prior accident in the past 6 years, or tickets in the past 3 years, the combination can cause your insurance company to cancel your policy.
8 -Repair Shops: It's your choice where to have your car repaired. Some insurance companies have preferred shops, but the call is ultimately yours.
9 -Your Record: If you've had a prior accident in the past 6 years, or tickets in the past 3 years, the combination can cause your insurance company to cancel your policy. You should check with your broker before making any claim to see what cancellation conditions your insurance policy has.
10 -Driver's Abstract: The driver's abstract tells you how many tickets you have on your record. Insurance companies will increase your rate for 3 years from the date of conviction for a ticket. Here are the various tickets insurance companies charge for.
Here's how to order your driver's abstract.
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11 -Auto History Claims Report: It's also important to know what your claims history is with the insurance company. This report allows you to see what has been reported on your file since you received your drivers licence. It's free.
12 -Fault Determination Rules: Insurance companies use these rules to determine who's at fault in an accident. Even if you're considered to be partially at-fault, it carries the same weight as being completely at-fault. To view these rules, click here.
13 -Insurance Policy Wordings: All Ontario automobile insurance policies are identical, word for word. The only difference is what the insurance company charges.
14 -As a general rule, you should always get two opinions about whether your claim is covered, or whether you've been correctly deemed "at-fault" or "partially at-fault".
15 -Insurance Experts To Turn To: The General insurance Ombudservice (GIO) is an organization set up to mediate between insurance companies and drivers with respect to the "Fault Determination Rules". In other words, if you have a dispute with your insurance company that you can't resolve, GIO will help you out. They also mediate for home and life insurance issues, and much more. Their contact information is as follows:
Telephone Number: 1 877 225-0446
16 -Reporting Your Accident To The Police: You need to report your accident to the police when there has been a person injured or damage to any public or private property, such as guard rails, lamp posts, traffic signals or someone's lawn.
Note: The police do not report your accident to the insurance companies.
17 -Reporting Your Accident To The Collision Reporting Centre: The collision reporting centre will report your accident to the insurance company, unless you ask them not to do so.
18 -Reporting Your Accident to Your Insurance Company: You are required to report your accident to the insurance company when the estimated damage exceeds $1,000 for both cars. This is the guideline set by insurance companies, but isn't always practiced by drivers.
19 -Risk of Not Reporting Your Accident To Your Insurance Company: If both drivers agree to settle the claim between them, the at-fault or partially at-fault driver, or drivers, can avoid rate hikes. The only risk is in paying your own claim when the other driver decides to go through his insurance company after the fact. Then your company will be notified and the accident will count against your insurance record.
20 -Hit And Run Driver: If the driver who hit your car is unidentified, you will pay your collision deductible to your insurance company, but your insurance rate doesn't increase. In order for this to be considered not at fault by your insurance company, most require a copy of a police report.
- Related Read: How Do You Deal With a Hit and Run?
21 -Determining Fault For Your Accident: The police determine whether there has been a violation of the law. Your insurance company determines fault, which dictates whether or not your insurance rate will increase. The police could determine that the accident was not your fault, yet your insurance company can still deem you to be at-fault.
Star Rating: Your "star rating" indicates how many years you've been driving accident-free. For example, a 5-star rating indicates to the insurance company that you've been driving accident-free for 5 years.
Note: A star rating does not reflect better insurance rates, between companies.
22 -Accident Forgiveness Coverage: This is an added coverage and can be purchased through most insurance companies. It means that in the event of your first at fault accident your rates will not be increased. Keep in mind that the 'forgiveness' applies only to the insurance company where you had the accident. If you change companies a new company may charge you for the accident. Another point to remember, the accident is still part of your driving record even though you may not have had a rate increase as a result.