No-fault insurance is meant to make your claims process easier in the case of an accident. As long as you have appropriate insurance coverage, your insurance company will look after your claim rather than sending you to chase after another driver and their insurance provider. No-fault insurance is in place to protect insured drivers and make sure that they receive compensation for loss, without additional time or effort to collect on a claim. Regardless of fault, insurance claims can affect your rates, and must be disclosed to potential providers when you search for insurance quotes.
In the case of an accident, there are two different groups who will assess fault. Police will investigate the accident at the time it occurs and record their observations. This may include laying blame on the driver they deem to be responsible, but they can also find that no driver was at fault. The insurance companies representing the affected drivers will also investigate the incident, and assess fault based on their own set of rules and guidelines. At fault guidelines are typically issued by the provincial government. If you currently have auto insurance in Ontario these guidelines help ensure that you receive equal treatment in the case of an accident resulting in a claim. They also help insurers make faster decisions about accident fault to expedite the claims process.
Sharing the Blame
Often, in the case of an accident, more than one party can be to blame. It isn’t uncommon for insurance providers to assign blame to more than one party. Fault is assigned from 0% to 100%, and any assignment more than 0% is considered an “at-fault” accident. Since the effect of an at-fault accident on your insurance record varies from insurance company to insurance company, make sure you ask how it could affect you when shopping for auto insurance quotes.
How Will Your Rates Be Affected
Some insurance companies allow a “free” at-fault insurance claim after numerous years of being claims free with a clean driving record. In this case, your first accident won’t affect your rates, but a second at-fault claim will likely cause an exponential increase to your premiums. Numerous at-fault accidents, convictions and/or policy cancellations could cause even experienced drivers to be deemed “high risk”. You want to avoid this situation because being considered “high risk” may result in you having to obtain insurance from a specialized provider who is willing to take on your risk at a much higher premium.
But It Isn’t My Fault!
Your insurance company is an objective, third party who assesses blame when you make a claim. That said, you may not agree that you are at fault in your accident. If you are concerned with the assessment of blame, your first recourse is to contact your claims adjuster and find out which rules were applied to your case. Your car insurance company likely won’t reassess their decision unless there’s new information to be presented, (i.e. a witness that wasn’t considered before), and even then, it may not change their ruling. If your claims adjuster can’t assist you, contacting the complaint officer at your insurance company could prove helpful in resolving the difference of opinion. If you still disagree, then you will have to pursue the matter in court.