Crawling along in rush hour traffic you take your eyes off the road for just a second to change the radio station when bump! The car in front of you stopped. You didn't just "touching" it. As you exhale the two most common words following an accident, you think "why, oh why me"?
Or, imagine you open the door of your car a bit too fast, lose your grip and it slams into the expensive luxury car parked next to you. Most don't think too much about this situation, but it's still an accident
$200? $500? $1000? Best to figure repairs will be at least twice what you think they will be.
We're all human and these are certainly not uncommon occurrences. What we find is that there are still misunderstandings about the legal and regulatory requirements following even minor accidents of this nature.
The Ontario Highway Traffic Act states –
Duty to report accident
199.(1) Every person in charge of a motor vehicle or street car who is directly or indirectly involved in an accident shall, if the accident results in personal injuries or in damage to property apparently exceeding an amount prescribed by regulation, report the accident forthwith to the nearest police officer and furnish him or her with the information concerning the accident as may be required by the officer under subsection (3). R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 199 (1); 2002, c. 17, Sched. F, Table.
The prescribed amount is further advised -
HTA – R.R.O. 1990, REGULATION 596 wrote:
Damage to Property Accident Report
11. For the purpose of subsection 199 (1) of the Act, the prescribed amount for damage to property is $1,000. O. Reg. 537/97, s. 1.
The Ontario Automobile Insurance policy further states under Statutory Condition # 5 –
"The insured shall… (report)…ANY accident involving loss or damage to persons or property AND of any claim…of the incident".
If what appears to be even a small claim is not reported to the insurer and unexpectedly you are served with a bodily injury claim months or years later, you may be held in violation of statutory conditions precluding your insurer from paying or defending the claim. Might be even worse if you just hand over a cheque for the damage, thereby admitting liability.
Given the potential impact of even a minor accident on your insurance record, the dilemma of course is how to preserve your rating. Unfortunately there is no clear answer here as every situation is different. Your best course of action is always to report it to the police when required. Then call your insurance broker or insurance company for guidance.
The Insurance Advisors @ Guthrie Insurance Brokers Ltd
Toronto – (416) -487-5200 – Richmond Hill – (905) 313-8481