Car Accident in Ontario: What To Do & How to Report It
Car accidents in Ontario, and across the country for that matter, come in many shapes and sizes, and with many different causes. Some are less serious than others and many need to be reported to police right away—even though some don’t.
Sound a little confusing? Not to worry, we’re breaking down everything you need to know, including what happens if you don’t report an Ontario car accident, what to do following both a minor and major incident, how to dispute a fault accident, who pays the deductible, the impact on an Ontario driving record, and more.
What happens if you don't report a car accident in Ontario?
Failing to report an accident in Ontario is a violation of one or more sections of the Highway Traffic Act.
If you’re convicted of failing to report an accident in Ontario, you’ll face a fine of between $60 and $1,000, plus victim surcharge. You’ll also get 3 demerit points on your record, which can lead to a major hike in your Ontario car insurance rates.
That’s why it’s so important to know which types of accidents need to be reported, and how.
What to do after a minor & major car accident in Ontario
According to Peel Regional Police, drivers should immediately call 911 after a major accident, if there are any injuries, or if the situation is unsafe—for instance, if the accident occurred on a busy roadway.
Remove your vehicle if safe, take photos, exchange info, and stay calm until police arrive
If possible and safe, remove the affected vehicles from the roadway. When it’s safe to do so, take photos of the vehicles and accident scene, and exchange information with other drivers. Photographing their information with your Smartphone is faster than writing it down.
Wait for help to arrive and avoid interacting or arguing with other drivers involved. After exchanging information, wait for the police to arrive and take control of the situation.
Some minor accidents don’t require on-site police presence or a 911 call. We’ll learn more about this below. Just remember: if you have any concerns for your safety, or if there are any concerns of injury, dial 911 without hesitation.
After an accident, be on the lookout for the onset of unusual pain or sensations, as some injuries may not be apparent right away. Seek medical attention as soon as possible if you have any concerns.
How to dispute a car accident fault in Ontario
If you’re involved in a car accident, you may be found partially, or completely, at fault by your insurance company. This depends on the type of accident and the circumstances surrounding it. The determination of fault has implications on your insurance rates after an accident.
Is it an at-fault or not-at-fault car accident?
At-fault accidents include rear-ending another vehicle, or encountering ‘black ice’ in wintertime and sliding off of the roadway. In both of these types of accidents (and many others), the driver is deemed to be at fault.
Not-at-fault accidents include being hit by another driver while parked or at a stop sign, or a collision with an animal.
Fault Determination Rules and the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO)
Fault is determined using a pre-set list of guidelines which apply to a wide range of accident situations. These are called Fault Determination Rules, and they’re basically compiled in a guide used by insurance companies to determine how to assign fault to the drivers in an accident. This pre-set list of rules ensures that all drivers are treated fairly and subjected to the same list of rules and determinations when fault is being assigned.
Whether or not you’re found at fault after an accident can have implications on your insurance rates. According to the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO), drivers who feel they’ve been found at fault wrongfully, or who feel that the decision doesn’t accurately reflect the circumstances of their accident, should speak to the claims adjuster handling their file and to ask which of the Fault Determination Rules were used in their case.
The FSCO says that insurance companies are unlikely to revise their fault decisions unless new information or evidence is provided that could alter their decision. If your insurance company still refuses to change their fault decision, contact a complaint officer to guide you through your insurance company’s specific complaint-handling procedure.
How to report a car accident in Ontario
If you’re involved in an accident where someone is injured, where the total damage to all vehicles appears to be over $2,000, or where you suspect that any of the other drivers are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you need to call emergency services and the police immediately.
Go to a Collision Reporting Centre for minor accidents if nobody is injured
If you’re involved in a minor accident where nobody is injured, and where the damage to the vehicles involved appears to be less than $2000, you’ll need to visit a Collision Reporting Centre within 24 hours, driving your vehicle there or having it towed, if necessary.
At a Collision Reporting Centre, an officer will help you to complete a police report, photograph your vehicle, and take down important information regarding the accident.
They’ll also apply the ‘Damage Reported to Police’ sticker to your vehicle. From the Collision Reporting Centre, you can take your vehicle wherever it needs to go for repairs.
Note that $2,000 worth of damage can be surprisingly small on a modern vehicle. On some modern vehicles, even a damaged bumper can constitute $2,000 worth of damage.
Who pays the deductible after a car accident in Ontario?
Your car insurance policy may have a deductible, which is the portion of the covered loss a driver is required to pay out of pocket. For instance, if you have an insurance policy with a $500 deductible and your car requires $2,000 worth of insurance repairs, you’ll pay the first $500, and your insurance company will pay the remaining $1,500.
Generally, customers can choose the deductible rate that works best for their insurance needs, with higher deductibles lowering insurance rates but putting drivers on the hook for more of the cost of a covered loss.
Ontario’s no-fault insurance system means your insurance company pays out your claim, whether you’re found at fault or not. Your insurance company handles your claim for you, rather than wasting time and money dealing with the other motorist’s insurance company. Your claim is handled by your insurance company, not somebody else’s.
If you’re not at fault in an Ontario accident, who pays the insurance deductible?
According to the Ontario Teachers Insurance Plan, there’s no simple answer, but rather, some factors to consider.
Though exceptions exist, not at fault claims typically fall under your insurance policy’s Direct Compensation Property Damage (DCPD) coverage, which usually has a $0 deductible anyways. Translation? In many not at fault accidents, there’s no deductible to pay.
In other cases where you do pay the deductible, your insurance company can try to get payment from the at-fault motorist’s insurance company for you. Contact your insurance company for the full scoop as it relates to the specifics of your accident.
How long does car accident stay on record in Ontario?
A government driving record or abstract contains information about a driver and their driver’s licence. It contains information about the driver, demerit point totals, convictions and suspensions and more. Both three and five-year records are available.
These records are one of the tools an insurance company looks at when setting your rates. Another is your insurance history report, which allows insurers to look back at your insurance history, vehicles, claims, accidents and more.
An Ontario car accident can stay on record from 3 to 6 years
Though each insurance company has different policies and procedures, drivers can generally expect an accident to stay on their record from 3 to 6 years. Though an accident can increase your insurance rates, these will typically fall over time if you steer clear of any additional accidents being added to your record.
The longer your driving record is accident free, the less you’ll typically pay for insurance.
How many car accidents are there per day in Ontario?
The Ministry of Transportation’s latest Ontario Road Safety Annual Report examines preliminary fatality and injury data from the 2021 Ontario Collision Database. The report says that in 2021, there were over 23,000 fatal and personal injury collisions in Ontario, involving nearly 43,000 vehicles.
The report says that 341 drivers were killed, followed by 108 pedestrians and 78 passengers. According to tests.ca and Ontario.ca, one person is injured in a distracted-driving collision every 30 minutes in Ontario. This data is a good indicator of the frequency of more serious accidents with injuries or deaths, where a 911 call is required.
Based on 2020 data, the most common contributing factors to fatal collisions in Canada included distraction and speeding, with the 25-34 age group being the most likely to be involved.
To learn more about Canada’s distracted driving laws, read our article Distracted Driving in Canada: Laws & Penalties Per Province.