The Claims Process: Auto Collision

Whether you’re involved in a minor fender bender or a serious collision, car accidents are stressful. That’s why we wanted to lay out the entire claims process so you know what to expect if you ever have to make a claim. Don’t forget: You can call us anytime. We can answer all your questions, help you through the process, and even advocate for you.

Start at the Scene

You’ll need to gather all the information about the accident. Get the other driver’s information and details of the incident, as well as witness statements and police reports for any damage. Immediately take photos and sketch the accident scene, taking note the positions of all vehicles.

Write down the following:

  • How it happened, the time, date and location
  • The speed of your vehicle and the road/weather conditions
  • Insurance information (drivers’ licenses, plate numbers, insurance company names and brokers for both drivers)
  • Contact information (names, addresses, phone numbers) of all passengers and witnesses
  • Make, model, year, registration, VIN, and licence plate number of both vehicles
  • Extent of any injuries
  • Extent of damage to the vehicles
  • Name and badge number of the investigating police officer, if the accident was reported to the police

Do you need to call the police? Collisions in Ontario with estimated damage less than $2,000 should be reported to the Collision Reporting Centre while estimated damage greater than $2,000 should be reported to the police. If you’re unsure what to do, call the Leo Martin Insurance office and we’ll help you out.

Call Your Insurer

When involved in an auto accident, you need to report it to your insurance company right away, regardless of who is at-fault. (Note: If you are driving someone else’s vehicle, you’ll call their insurance company.) Be ready to provide all the information you collected at the scene.

Once the insurance company has received your claim report, an adjuster will be assigned to your file to:

  • Determine the extent to which the claim is covered by your insurance policy
  • Explain the coverages provided by your policy
  • Guide you through the entire claims process


Call Your Broker, Too

We recommend that you let your broker know too, as brokers can be a big help throughout the claims process. After all, that’s what we’re here for! Sometimes our clients experience a collision and we don’t find out until many weeks later when their insurance paperwork arrives. That’s fine, but if you don’t call us, that means we can’t help you through the claims process.

Your broker can be an advocate on your behalf to get an efficient resolution to your claim. Plus, we’ll answer any questions you might have along the way.

Our insurance brokers can:

  • Confirm your coverage
  • Review the details of the incident
  • Advise you of any necessary paperwork
  • Report the claim to the insurance company on your behalf, or can assist you in reporting it yourself
  • Communicate with your claims adjuster
  • Advocate on your behalf to your insurer

Collisions involving injuries

If you are injured, you may be entitled to financial help to cover medical bills through Accident Benefits. You will be assigned a specialist claims adjuster. He or she will know exactly what medical benefits are available and what extra forms are needed.

A note of caution: It’s important to make sure you have the right Accident Benefits coverage in place before you get into an accident. There have been major changes to Accident Benefits Coverage. (link to Accident Benefits post.)

Whose Fault Is It Anyways?

Someone is always determined to be at-fault in an auto accident, whether partially or fully.

At-fault responsibility in an accident determines:

  • how much of your deductible you will need to pay
  • whether your insurance premiums will increase at renewal

For insurance purposes, the circumstances of an accident might reveal that more than one driver was at fault. Drivers can be anywhere between zero and 100 percent at fault—anything more than zero percent means that driver will have an at-fault accident on his/her insurance record. Drivers who are found more than 25 percent at-fault for the accident will likely face an increase in their insurance premiums come renewal time.

Insurance companies use Fault Determination Rules to determine fault for an auto accident. These rules cover more than 40 (!) accident situations. Diagrams illustrate specific occurrences, and are applicable to almost every imaginable scenario. Fault is allocated to each driver based on which accident scenario most closely resembles the accident.

If you are charged with an offence, you will not necessarily be found at fault for insurance purposes.

If you are not charged with an offence, it doesn’t necessarily mean that will not find be found at fault for insurance purposes.

Did you know? If you believe that the decision does not accurately reflect the circumstances of the accident, speak to the claims adjuster handling your file. Ask him or her what rule in the Fault Determination Rules has been applied in your case. Our team at Leo Martin can discuss this option with you and help you with the process.

Need a Rental Vehicle?

Ask your claims adjuster if you’re covered before renting a replacement vehicle.

If you are found at-fault for an accident—and didn’t buy optional Loss of Use (Transportation Replacement) Coverage—then you may be responsible to pay for a rental car. But if the other driver’s insurance company accepts total fault for the accident, then you’ll be entitled to a replacement vehicle while your vehicle is being repaired.

Repair or Write-Off?

Your insurance company will probably treat your vehicle as a total loss (or “write-off”) if repairs cost more than the actual cash value of the vehicle.

In other words, your insurance company will pay the lower of the following:

  • the cost to repair the loss/damage
  • the “actual cash value” of your vehicle at the time it was damaged.

“Actual Cash Value” (ACV) = The amount necessary to replace your vehicle with a comparable used vehicle. (Total mileage, age, overall condition and average retail selling price are all considered.)

If you’ve recently completed work on your vehicle that you think would increase its actual cash value, tell your claims adjuster right away. Provide receipts to help the insurance company determine your cash settlement.

Getting Your Vehicle Repaired

If your vehicle is damaged but repairable, your insurer will give the go-ahead to get necessary repairs done. They’ll also give you the name(s) of their preferred repair shop(s).  

As long as your insurance company approves the estimate, you can choose where you want to have your vehicle repaired. But they won’t pay more than the price quoted by their preferred shop or guarantee the work.

Your insurance company has the right to repair, rebuild, or replace any damaged parts with other parts “of like kind and quality.” They may also use approved “aftermarket” replacement parts.

Of course, we wish that none of our valued clients had to make a collision claim because we know it can cause them stress and difficulty. But we’re always here to assist them through the claims process and help in any way we can.

In our next post, we’ll look at the claims process when a loss happens at home.

If you have questions about your auto insurance or how to make a claim, get in touch with us at 613-932-0083 or 1-844-804-1506 OR

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