Minor Car Accidents vs. The Average Claim for a Car Accident

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The average claim for a car accident is pretty straightforward: even in the case of a serious motor vehicle accident with costly damages, you simply have to call your insurance company, speak to a claims adjuster, and fill out whatever paperwork they need from you. You might want to consider consulting with a Toronto personal injury lawyer as well, but that’s an even easier process. Counterintuitively, though, things can get more complex when it comes to minor motor vehicle accidents. And, since minor car accidents happen all the time, you should look beyond the average claim for a car accident—since you never know when little nuisances like these might hit you.


Minor Car Accident Issues


While you should be thankful that you’ve been in a car accident that did not seem to cause any serious damage or injuries, minor car accidents come with their own spate of issues, most of which revolve around your insurance claim. Is it even necessary to report such a minor accident to my insurer? Will I be penalized if I don’t report it? And will reporting the accident impact future premiums?


Reporting the Accident


The Insurance Bureau of Canada, the national industry representing Canada’s private insurers, states any accident that must be reported to the police (or, obviously for which a claim will be filed) must be reported to your insurer as soon as possible. In Ontario, you are required to report your accident to the police if damage to each vehicle totals $1,000 or more. If these were the only stipulations, you wouldn’t be required to notify your insurer for a minor fender bender—but there’s more. Auto insurance policies in Canada have statutory terms that require you to notify and comply with your insurer for any accident that causes damage to people or property (including vehicles). So, even if the damage seems inconsequential, you need to call your insurer.


Premiums and Other Collateral


However, these seemingly frustrating regulations are not as financially damning as they appear. Reporting a minor accident, even if you’re entirely at fault, will not necessarily raise your premiums. For example, let’s say you rear-ended a vehicle at a stop sign. It's clear that you're at fault. You and the other driver exchange information, she takes her vehicle to a repair shop, and sends you a bill for $500. Though the charge certainly isn’t welcomed, it’s more palatable to pay out of pocket once rather than have your premiums jacked up for years to come. Insurance companies will often agree with you! Assuming the other driver chooses not to pursue a claim, insurers will allow you to pay out of pocket without filing a claim if the damages are low enough. So why do the insurers insist on having you notify them? In Ontario, you have up to one year to file a claim for a car accident. If, even after agreeing not to go through with a claim, the other driver starts to feel headaches and soreness weeks after the accident, they might change their mind and pursue a claim to receive benefits for their injury (and they would be legally permitted to do so). Since you notified your insurer immediately after the accident, they’ll be better equipped to help you cover any damages you might ultimately be required to pay.


Contact Sokoloff personal injury lawyers today for your free consultation!



Level 9 (XP: 3550)
2 years ago
What kind of claims can be made to my insurance company if my car was slightly rear-ended? Do I need a professional lawyer for this type of problem?