The Top 10 Things You Need to Consider Before Reporting Your Car Accident

When you've been in an accident, you may want to think twice before reporting it to your insurance company. In some cases taking care of the damage yourself could be the better option, but make sure you consider all of these points before you make a decision.

The Other Driver and Vehicle

If you have been involved in an accident with only your own vehicle, with no other driver involved, you are in the position to make the decision on your own about reporting it. If another driver is involved, they have the right to report the accident to their insurance company, which will in turn contact your insurance company. If the other driver plans to report an accident, make your own report as well to ensure your version of events is on the record.

Are There Injuries?

You should report an accident to the police as well as the insurance company right away when there are any injuries. The law requires that the police be notified when someone is injured in an accident. An accident police report doesn't mean the insurance company will be notified, but in the interest of protecting yourself from a lawsuit over medical bills, you should file a claim.

Your Insurance Rates

If you are at fault in an accident, your insurance rates are likely to go up. In some cases, the cost of paying for the damage is less than paying the insurance increase, which will likely affect you for several years. Remember that the rate increase for an accident isn''t related to the amount of damage in the accident; it''s the same whether it''s a minor fender bender or a write-off.

Your Driving Record

An at-fault accident on your driving record can affect the cost of renewing your driver''s license due to demerit points. This is another cost that could make paying out of pocket for repairs a good idea.

Who is At Fault?

Reporting an accident carries no risk of increased rates if you are not at fault. It''s important to keep in mind that the insurance company will determine who is at fault after it''s reported, so you may not think you are at fault but find out later you were wrong. Ontario''s Fault Determination Rules can help you find out if you are at fault, and there are some cases where fault is obvious, such as if your legally parked vehicle is struck.

Consequences of Failure to Report an Accident

Your contract with the insurance company gives you a few responsibilities, and one of them is reporting an accident within a reasonable time frame. Should you walk away from an accident and then a year later find out the other driver is making a claim against you, you could run into trouble. The other driver has two years to report injuries, so failure to report an accident could come back to haunt you.

Accident Forgiveness

If you have added the accident forgiveness option to your insurance policy, you won''t be charged for the accident as along as it falls within the allowed accidents. Reporting your first accident carries little risk if you have this option.

Previous Accidents

If you have had an accident in the past three years for which your insurance company is currently charging you, you can expect an even higher rate increase. More than two accidents in a short period of time can mean even more serious consequences, including a non-renewal that requires you to seek high-risk coverage.

Your Deductible

In a case where you are not at fault, you won''t have to pay the deductible when reporting an accident – with the notable exception of a hit and run. If you are at fault, you will be responsible for that deductible amount, so consider that cost before you report.

Shopping Around for Insurance

Remember that an accident on your record can and will follow you to a new insurance company. Even if you have accident forgiveness at your current company, a new company will charge you for that accident. Plans to shop around in the future could be impacted by reporting an accident; however, even with an accident on your record it''s still possible to shop around for a better rate.

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