Will Your Auto Accident Impact Your Car Insurance Rates in Ontario?
When a person is involved in an auto accident in Ontario, his or her first thought will typically be to the immediate needs of medical care, vehicle repair, and possibly the need for a temporary auto replacement. Once these immediate concerns have been tended to, accident victims often want to know: How will this accident affect my car insurance rates in Ontario?
Whether your motor vehicle accident will increase your insurance rates generally depends on whether you were at fault for the accident. More precisely, it will depend on whether the insurance company decided you were at fault, to what degree, and your recent driving history.
This is one reason accident victims may work with lawyers after a crash. A lawyer may be able to prove you were not at fault for the accident and therefore not subject to premium increases.
How Your Auto Insurance Rates are Set
Auto insurance premiums in Ontario are determined based on several factors, including:
- The make and model of your vehicle: The type of automobile you drive affects how likely it is to be stolen and how expensive it is to repair. The Insurance Bureau of Canada publishes an annual report that summarizes how the type of vehicle you drive could be impacting your premium.
- Where you live: Living in a city increases the risk of being in an accident and of having your car stolen. Insurance companies know this, and so set their rates depending on where you live.
- How old you are: Younger drivers — those under 25 — tend to be riskier drivers, and that increased risk is reflected in higher premiums.
- Your driving history: Driving experience, driving convictions (such as for drunk driving or speeding), and some at-fault accidents — see below — all influence your rates.
- The level of coverage you buy: Ontario mandates a minimum coverage for auto insurance, but Ontarians can pay higher rates for more or better liability and accident benefits coverage, among other things.
- The deductible you select: The deductible is the amount of post-accident expenses for which you — not the insurance company — are responsible. The lower the deductible you select, the higher your premium will be.
- Your insurer: Different insurance companies charge different premiums for the same coverage. You should get quotes from multiple companies to find the lowest rate available to you.
By understanding how these factors influence your insurance premium, you can make informed decisions that help you lower your current premium or avoid higher future premiums.
At-Fault Accidents and Your Ontario Car Insurance Rates
Ontario’s no-fault insurance system does not mean there is no such thing as fault in an accident. It simply means you can access Statutory Accident Benefits even if you were at fault for an accident. Recall that auto insurance in Ontario has two parts:
- Fault-Based Third-Party Liability Coverage, which protects others when you are at fault for causing an auto-related injury.
- No-Fault Statutory Accident Benefits Coverage, which pays for medical rehabilitation, attendant care, and income replacement when you are injured in a car accident, regardless of fault.
You will be considered “at fault” if the insurance company rules you are more than zero percent responsible for your accident. They determine this by following a series of complicated rules in the Insurance Act, assigning a percentage of fault to the individuals involved in the accident.
If your insurance company determines that you are more than 25% at fault in causing an accident, it can increase your insurance premium. If you are less than 25% at fault, the insurance company cannot increase your premium because of that accident.
However, since June 1, 2016, insurance companies have been prohibited from increasing premiums for the first minor at-fault accident in any three-year period, even if a driver is more than 25% at fault. To qualify for this exception, the following criteria must be satisfied:
- No insurer made any payments because of the accident.
- No one was injured in the accident.
- Property damage was less than $2,000 per car.
- The at-fault driver paid all damages.
For any other at-fault accidents, your rate may increase only a small percentage if this is your first at-fault accident and you have previously established a clean, safe driving record (typically spanning six or more years). If you remain accident free for another six years, the accident may be “eliminated” from your record.
Your rates may increase significantly if this is your second at-fault accident within a five-year span. If you have experienced any driving infractions (such as a conviction for drunk driving or speeding), you may be categorized as a high-risk driver. This requires a special type of automotive insurance.
Special Considerations with Automotive Insurance in Ontario
Your automotive insurance premium may be affected by an accident involving your vehicle even when you weren’t the one driving at the time of the crash. This is something to consider carefully when loaning a vehicle to another driver. Also, be sure to ask your insurance company about its policy for at-fault accidents before you purchase insurance.
What to Do if You’re Unfairly Blamed for an Auto Accident in Ontario
You have the right to question your insurance company’s ruling on your auto accident. You may start by contacting the insurance claims adjuster. Or, if serious injuries were involved, you may wish to hire a personal injury lawyer with experience handling motor vehicle accident claims.
The insurance company typically only will change its ruling based on the presentation of compelling evidence, such as photographs of the scene, witness statements or the other driver’s admission of fault. A lawyer may be able to help collect and present this evidence and guide you through the insurance appeals process.
Have you recently suffered a serious injury in a motor vehicle accident in Ontario? Does the insurance company blame you for the crash? Contact Preszler Injury Lawyers to schedule a free case evaluation. Call 1-800-JUSTICE or complete this confidential online form.