Getting into a car accident is always a shock. Whether you experience a fender bender at a red light or are involved in a more serious collision, knowing how to proceed in the aftermath can feel overwhelming. Immediate concerns like the well-being of you and your passengers will (and should) naturally take precedence, but there’s also the procedural side of things to consider once it’s safe to do so.
Who should you notify? Will the police be arriving? What information do you need from the other driver(s) involved? Do you need to go straight to a collision reporting centre (CRC)? Will you be deemed at fault? And how soon do you need to contact your insurance company (if at all)?
Many drivers involved in a collision find questions like these spinning through their minds and are unsure where and how to start taking proper action. In this post, the team at Westland Insurance will provide some clarity. Being informed and prepared can help mitigate the stress of an accident and equip you with the necessary knowledge and tools to take the right actions in the right order, even when you’re in a vulnerable state.
Let’s get started!
Understanding Your Policy
The first step to being prepared in the event of an automobile accident is to understand your responsibilities, rights, and obligations as a driver in Ontario.
In addition to familiarizing yourself with the Ontario Automobile Policy (OAP 1) forms, available through a Westland Insurance representative or downloadable online here, it’s also important to carefully read your individual insurance policy. While some accident reporting procedures are standardized, the specifics of how you must contact your insurance provider and under what circumstances may vary.
All Ontario drivers are also required to follow the laws laid out in the Highway Traffic Act, which are outlined in the Official Ministry of Transportation (MTO) Driver’s Handbook.
You may wish to keep copies of all the documents listed above in your vehicle at all times so they’re available for reference in case of an accident.
Do You Have to Report an Accident in Ontario?
If you’re involved in a collision in Ontario, there are two types of reports you may be required to file: A police report and an accident report to your insurance provider. In this section, we’ll look at when these reports need to be submitted and how to file each one:
How to File an Accident Report in Ontario
If police respond to a traffic accident, a police traffic collision report may be completed at the site of the collision. Otherwise, a police traffic collision report must be filed in person at an Ontario collision reporting centre.
Reporting a traffic accident to your insurance company is different from filing a police report. The process typically involves calling an insurance representative directly and asking for next steps.
When to File an Accident Report in Ontario
Reports should be filed as soon as possible after a traffic accident occurs—ideally within 24 hours.
According to Ontario law, it’s mandatory to report an accident to police if:
- Combined damage between all the vehicles involved exceeds $2000
- Any injuries occurred
- Illegal activity is suspected (impaired driving, stolen vehicle, etc.)
- An uninsured driver is involved
- A pedestrian or cyclist is involved
- A government vehicle is involved
- Property damage has occurred (private or public)
If you’re uncertain whether or not to report an accident to the police, it’s always best to err on the side of caution. Visit your nearest collision reporting centre with specific questions and concerns.
The requirements for reporting an accident to your insurance company may vary based on your provider and/or specific policy. Some insurance policies require drivers to report accidents no matter the severity or extent of damage, while others may offer more flexibility.
The team at Westland Insurance strongly recommends reporting all accidents to your insurance provider to avoid the potential risks associated with not reporting (such as discovering more extensive damage or injuries after the fact). Often, policyholders have the option to report an accident to their insurance provider but still pay for damages out-of-pocket (to avoid premium increases).
What Happens After Filing an Accident Report in Ontario
A police report serves as an official record of a collision that took place. If laws were broken or other criminal actions occurred, the police will lay charges accordingly.
After reporting an accident to your insurance company, you will be contacted by an adjuster who will determine how much coverage will be provided and assist you in navigating the claims process.
How Fault is Determined
In the province of Ontario, who is at fault in an accident is determined by the Fault Determination Rules, which are applied regardless of weather and road conditions. If a you are found at-fault for a collision,and you did not have Accident Waiver coverage, your insurance premium will increase the next time you renew your insurance.
Worth noting is that being charged by the police in a collision does not necessarily mean your insurance company will find you at fault (and vice versa). The police and insurance companies are two separate entities that evaluate the circumstances surrounding traffic accidents through different lenses.
What Happens If You Don’t Report a Car Accident in Ontario?
If you’re considering not reporting a car accident, our advice at Westland is: Don’t.
Reporting an accident is important for many reasons, and not doing so can be associated with risks such as having your insurance cancelled because the other driver reported the accident and you didn’t, being on the hook for damage that you didn’t realize would be so expensive to repair, or even being convicted for leaving the scene of a car accident.
Possible Convictions for Leaving the Scene of a Car Accident
You could risk having your driver’s licence suspended for as much as 2 years.
In serious cases, drivers who leave the scene of a traffic accident could be sentenced to jail time.
How Long Do I Have to Report an Accident in Ontario?
It’s recommended to report a traffic accident as soon as possible. Alert police immediately if necessary, and otherwise, visit a CRC and contact your insurance provider within 24 hours. If unavoidable circumstances prevent you from reporting within 24 hours, do so as soon as you are able.
Do You Have to Report an Accident to Your Insurance Company?
The answer to this question depends on your insurance company and the severity of the collision you were involved in. At Westland Insurance, we recommend reporting all accidents to your insurance company, even if not technically mandatory.
Do You Have to Report an Accident in a Parking Lot?
Yes. Collisions must be reported according to the same regulations, no matter where they occur.
What to Expect If Your Vehicle Has Been Damaged
If your vehicle has been damaged in a collision, the amount of coverage you receive will likely be based on the current value of your vehicle and the specifics of your policy. If you are driving a newer vehicle and have had it insured in Ontario since it was purchased, you may have added a Depreciation Waiver to your policy. Depending on the insurance company, Depreciation Waivers usually expire between 24 and 48 months. If you have a valid Depreciation Waiver, it is possible that your insurance company will pay to replace your vehicle with a new model.
Also, if you were found 0% at-fault, it is possible that your deductible may be waived. Speak directly with your insurance provider for more information.
What To Expect If You File a Claim with Mandatory Coverage
Suppose your insurance policy only includes mandatory coverages (third-party liability, accident benefits, DCPD, and uninsured motorist protection). In that case, you may be eligible to receive coverage for damage to your vehicle and its contents and loss of use compensation (such as access to a temporary rental vehicle), but only if you are not deemed at fault in the collision.
You may be eligible for this coverage under DCPD. As of January 1, 2024, drivers can exclude DCPD coverage from their policy. If you have excluded DCPD from your policy, there is no physical damage coverage for your vehicle, regardless of fault.
What To Do After a Car Accident in Ontario
If you’re involved in a collision in Ontario, take the following actions in the following order:
- Remain calm.
- Stop immediately and remain at the scene of the collision.
- Check to see if you, your passengers, or anyone else involved in the collision is injured. Call 9-1-1 immediately if necessary.
- Move your vehicle off the road and/or get out of your vehicle, but only if it is safe to do so.
- Call the police if the circumstances of the collision warrant it (see “When To File an Accident Report in Ontario” section above). Otherwise, go to a CRC to file a police report as soon as possible.
- Inspect vehicle(s) for damage and exchange information with the other driver(s) including:
- Driver’s licence numbers, names and contact information, insurance provider and policy numbers, licence plate numbers, etc.
- Record details about the collision (weather, conditions, time, place, and events that occurred).
- Call a tow truck if necessary.
- Phone your insurance provider to make a report.
Filing a Police Report
When will police show up at the scene of an accident?
Police will show up at the scene of an accident in Ontario if someone reports an emergency. Police must always be present at the scene of a collision where injuries occur or when the cost of combined damage exceeds $2000.
Do you need to file an insurance claim after filing a police report?
It’s always a good idea to file a report with your insurance company after filing an accident report with the police.
What’s included in police reports?
Police reports include details about an accident’s circumstances as well as statements from drivers and witnesses, if necessary. They may also include photos, personal information about the people involved, and any other relevant information.
What Not to Do After a Car Accident
When a car accident occurs, the people involved may feel frightened and overwhelmed, which may lead to poor decisions. If you’re involved in a collision, never:
- Try to move an injured person
- Get in an argument or fight
- Promise to pay for damages
- Allow your vehicle to be towed by an unauthorized tow truck
Secure Your Ride: Take Control of Your Car Insurance with Westland Today!
For Ontario car insurance that will offer the right protection and peace of mind in the event of a collision, get in touch with the dedicated team at Westland Insurance today!
After a car accident in Ontario, it’s important to prioritize everyone’s safety and call emergency services if necessary. After that, relevant information should be exchanged and recorded, and separate reports should be filed with the police as well as the insurance companies of the drivers involved.
Yes. Anyone injured in a traffic collision can submit a claim, even if they don’t own an auto insurance policy. For more information, contact the FSRA or Ontario’s Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Fund (MVACF).
If you believe you’ve been the victim of fraud or a scam, contact police immediately.