Accidents happen and so must insurance claims. The ebb and flow of traffic lends itself to many unfortunate scenarios and even the safest drivers can find themselves victims of an automobile accident. So, what now? What do you do after you survived that traumatic event? How can you be sure you’ll avoid any financial loss, in addition to getting the rehabilitation you deserve? Let us walk you through the process!
Stop at the Scene
Don’t panic. Stop and assess the damage to both passengers and the vehicles. If you notice that the total amount of damage to your car is more than $1,000 or if the other driver is guilty of any Criminal Code infractions (i.e. DUI or speeding), contact 911 and follow the instructions given by the emergency operator. The police officer will fill out an accident report when they arrive and offer a copy to all parties involved in the incident.
Don’t drive away until the report is filed. If you flee the scene, you may be subjected to criminal prosecution. Even the most minor accidents require filed documents, whether written by the officer on the scene or when you personally visit a Collision Reporting Centre or nearest police station.
The report should include your insurance policy number, driver’s information, time and location, witnesses and accident situation (weather, speed, road signs, etc.). The police report will also state from the officer’s perspective as to who was at fault.
In addition to the report, be sure to grab the name, address, telephone number and driver’s licence of the other drivers and witnesses involved. Also, it doesn’t hurt to jot down notable facts about the scene, including road conditions and the speed of traffic.
The Acceptance Game
Alert your insurance company. Depending on the circumstances, your rates may not be affected. If they are, they can see the increase anywhere from 6% to 140% (this can be between a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars per year). Regardless, it is important that you report it. If you do find yourself in an accident where you are at fault, the incident will stay on your record for six to ten years. Although, some insurance companies may offer accident forgiveness for first-time accidents.
In order to complete the insurance claim, an insurance adjuster will contact you. Following the Insurance Act’s rules and regulation outline, the adjuster will determine and assign fault, thus attributing the ratio to the drivers and vehicles involved. This ratio determines how much each party will have to pay or be compensated for in regards to the claim. Such variables included in the claim are proof of loss, injuries or damage to property.
Avoid Further Loss
It’s important to stay calm after an accident. The world might seem to be spinning out of control, but you must assure yourself that everything will be fine. Gather yourself together so you can prevent causing yourself further damages and loss.
Be wary of unauthorized tow truck operators, they may try to implement immediate payment. Before you cough out any more money, ask a police officer for the number of the authorized tow truck company or speak with your insurance company first.
Do not order repairs, except for those needed to protect your vehicle, until the insurer has a reasonable amount of time to inspect the damages. You shouldn’t assume liability.
The insurer’s job is to determine whether your vehicle is worth repairing, or in other words, if the cost of repairs is equal or greater than the value of the car. If it is, then the insurance company might just consider it a total loss, in which case the vehicle will not be fixed and the owner will be charged the amount calculated by the insurance adjuster.
Objection, Compensation and the Aftermath
Of course, disputes are bound to happen when it comes to something as fragile as financial and medical compensation in a post-accident scenario. If you feel that there was an unfair ruling on your incident, you may request a review from your insurance company and have the accident re-evaluated. But before you buy the ticket for another ride, be sure that you have additional information that can influence a change in their decision-making. A third-party reviewer will have another look at the claim, assisting in the adjuster’s decision. But be warned, should the outcome not be in your favour, the claim may be increased. In the end, all must abide by the arbitrator’s decision.
Purchasing collision and all perils coverage may also be an option. This plan will cover loss and damages, should the fault fall on you after an accident.
If you feel you have been victimized of insurance fraud, contact services such as Fraud Hotline of Financial Services Commission of Ontario to help you out.
Remember that in the end it all comes down to safety and preparation. Be a safe driver, but anticipate the worst. Have an emergency kit handy and keep an accident worksheet in your glove compartment. A collision can be a horrific event, but you can reduce the stress and panic if you are ready for it.