Oct 19, 2020
Your Guide To At Fault Accidents And Insurance
Am I at fault? This is one of the first things that goes through your mind when you get into an accident. This is quickly followed up with,
How much will this accident impact my insurance, and “should I admit fault in a car accident?”
Car accidents happen. But, whether or not you are the one at fault and how it will impact your car insurance can be a grey area. It’s a topic drivers need to and want to know more about.
Don’t Admit To Being At Fault If you Get In An Accident
Before we get into the details about at fault accidents, drivers need to know one very important thing when getting into an accident – never admit fault at the scene. If possible, don’t discuss it with the other drivers involved.
Record what happened, take photos, get witness contact information, and follow the instructions of the police or head to the accident reporting centre.
Learn more about what to do when you get into an accident in Ontario.
What Is An At Fault Accident?
An at fault accident is exactly as it sounds – you are the driver who is at fault, or the cause of an accident. For example, you are the car that initiated contact or failed to stop in time. Depending on the situation, one or multiple drivers can be found to be somewhat at fault for an accident.
The amount of fault for which you are responsible will be determined by your insurer. They will perform an investigation. Someone will always be found to be at fault, whether it’s fully or partially. You can be found anywhere from 0% to 100% at fault.
At Fault Collisions Apply To All Drivers
One thing that many drivers are unaware of is that at fault collisions apply to all drivers. The Insurance Bureau of Canada explains :
When you lend your car to someone, you also lend that person your insurance. If the person who borrows your car has an at-fault collision while driving it, their accident goes on your insurance record, and your insurance premium could go up.
How Is Who's At Fault Determined In A Car Accident?
Who is at fault for an accident is not always clear right away. There are many factors that go into fault determination for car accidents. Who’s involved, where they were driving, speed, road conditions and more all play a role. Fault can also be shared.
Fault determination rules were created to help insurers, police and others involved determine who is at fault, and how much fault they share.
Your Insurer Determines Who's At Fault In An Accident
This is where things can get complicated and difficult to understand. Fault is determined by your insurer. To do this, they use the Fault Determination Rules that were created under the Insurance Act to investigate the accident and assign fault.
The Financial Services Commission of Ontario explains :
After you report an accident to your insurer, the company will investigate the circumstances of the accident and then make a fault decision based on the accident fault determination rules in Ontario.
What Are The Insurance Fault Determination Rules For Accidents?
Accident fault determination rules cover many different accident types and driving situation :
- Cover many types of accidents : They cover more than 40 accident situations, using diagrams to illustrate specific occurrences, can be applied to almost every possible road collision scenario.
- Apply to many conditions : Are applied regardless of road or weather conditions, visibility, point of impact on the vehicles, or the actions of pedestrians.
Fault is allocated to each driver based on which accident scenario most closely resembles the accident. If the accident is not described by any of the scenarios, then fault is allocated according to the ordinary rules of negligence law.
Want to learn more about the fault determination rules? Visit the Service Ontario website.
Do The Police Have Anything To Do With The Insurance Company Fault Assessment?
Contrary to popular belief, the police do not have an impact on your insurers decision to assign fault. If you are charged with a traffic offence as part of your accident, you will not necessarily be deemed to be at fault. On the other hand, if the police decide not to file charges after an accident, you can still be found to be at fault for the crash.
FSCO provides a good example :
For example, if a vehicle was unable to stop on an icy road and rear-ended another, a police officer may say that neither of the drivers was at-fault. Such a comment relates to the laying of charges and should not be taken as an opinion about how the Fault Determination Rules apply to an auto insurance claim. In a case like this, the insurer would apply the rule stating that a vehicle which rear-ends another is at-fault.
How Do You Dispute If You Been Determined To Be At Fault In An Accident?
You have the right to disagree with your insurance company’s fault determination. This is why it’s so important to document everything after an accident. You can appeal the decision and state your case to your insurer. All companies have an appeal process in place. A third party mediator may also be brought in to make a final determination.
What Are The Most Common Types Of At Fault Accidents And How Is Fault Determined?
There are many different types of car crashes and accidents that you could be involved in when driving – sideswipes, T-bones, head-on collisions, multi-car pile-ups and more.
In total, there are 40 common types of car accidents that are used to determine fault. However, there is a difference between getting into an accident and being cause of an at fault accident.
Here are the top types of at fault accidents :
Rear End Collision
This is perhaps the easiest type of auto accident to determine fault. If you rear end another vehicle, then you will most likely be found at fault for the accident. Whether the vehicle comes to a sudden stop, is stopped at a traffic light, or even stopped on the side of the road, the vehicle that makes the initial contact is most commonly the cause of the accident.
What about multiple rear end collisions, or chain reaction accidents? If multiple cars rear end each other, each vehicle that hits the car in front of them will usually share some of the fault for the accident.
Single Driver Accidents
If you are involved in an accident and no other drivers are involved, then you will be found to be at fault for the accident, in most instances. Common types of single driver accidents include causing damage to public property, crashing into a parked vehicle, hitting a tree and hitting a pedestrian. Even if the cause is poor road conditions, or you swerve to avoid an animal or something else on the road, you will still be found at fault.
Failure To Obey Traffic Signs
If you fail to abide by the rules of the road, then you will most likely be found to be at fault for an accident. This includes running a red light, failure to signal when changing lanes, or disobeying a posted traffic sign and causing an accident with another vehicle that was following the rules of the road, regardless of who made the initial contact.
Accident Involving Changing Lanes?
In most situations, the vehicle that is making the lane change or entering a lane of traffic is at fault. This includes changing lanes, turning into a lane of traffic, merging onto the highway, and any other situation when a vehicle moves across the lane line.
T Bone Accident?
A T-bone accident, or side impact collision, can happen in many situations. It most frequently happens at intersections. Depending on the situation, either driver could be at fault. It often comes down to which driver had the right away and if a traffic violation occurred.
Accidents As A Result Of Distracted Driving
Taking your eyes and attention off the road for any reason will make you at fault. Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of accidents and deaths on our roadways.
If you are found to have been texting, using your phone, or engaging in any activity that is deemed to be distracted driving, then you will most likely be found to be at fault.
Accidents Due To Impaired Driving
Driving while impaired will immediately qualify you to be at fault if you are involved in a car accident. Getting behind the wheel when driving or high on drugs is negligent, reckless and considered intentional misconduct, all factors that are used by insurers to determine fault for an automobile accident.
These are some of the most common types of at-fault accidents; however, regardless of the type of accident in which you are involved, there is a chance that you could be found to be fully or partially at fault.
How Does An At Fault Accident Affect Insurance?
If you are found to be at fault for an accident, you can expect your insurance to increase. You may be able to prevent (or minimize) an increase if the accident was minor or if you have accident forgiveness coverage included in your policy.
How Much Does Your Insurance Go Up After An At Fault Accident?
Now for the all-important question – how much does insurance increase if you are found to be the cause of an accident?
Well, it depends on a number of factors, such as :
- Your Driving Record : If you have a clean driving record, your premiums will likely go up less than if you have an accident or two on your record.
- Do You Have Accident Forgiveness : Accident forgiveness is additional coverage you can purchase to protect yourself from increases after an at fault collision.
IBC provides a good summary of how an at fault crash can impact your insurance premiums :
If you’ve had a number of at fault accidents, you may need high risk car insurance.
Will An At Fault Accident Cause An Insurance Increase In Ontario?
Yes. If you are involved in an at fault accident you could see your insurance increase. However, if you share less than 25% of fault in causing the accident, you will not likely see an increase if you have a clean driving record.
Will My Insurance Increase If I Am Not At Fault ?
If you get into a non-fault accident and are found to not be the cause of the crash, your insurance will not likely increase. It is a common myth that your insurance will automatically increase if you file a claim.
What Happens If I Get Into A Minor At Fault Accident?
As of June 1, 2016, insurer cannot increase your insurance costs for your first minor at fault accident within a three year period. There are certain criteria that must be met.
The FSCO explains :
Insurers can no longer use a minor at-fault accident that occurs on or after June 1, 2016 meeting certain criteria to increase your premiums. The criteria include that no payment has been made by any insurer, that there are no injuries, and that damages to each car and property were less than $2,000 per car and were paid by the at-fault driver. This provision is limited to one minor accident every three years.
G2 At Fault Accidents
The same rules for at fault accidents apply to G2 license holders. If you get into an accident and you are at fault, you will see your insurance increase. Since you are considered a novice driver, you rates will be higher and you could have issues getting insurance coverage.
What Happens If You Get In A Car Accident With No Insurance And Are At Fault?
Driving without insurance in Ontario has serious repercussions. If you cause an accident and do not have insurance you will be held personally responsible for any repairs to your vehicle. You will also have to cover you own medical bills. You will be fined and could face charges depending on the circumstances of the accident.
What Happens In Car Accidents When A Pedestrian Is At Fault?
What if pedestrian is at fault? What happens if a pedestrian caused an accident or a pedestrian ran in front of your car? The same rules apply in determining fault as if two vehicles where in an accident. Your insurer will use the Fault Determination Rules to assess responsibility to the incident.
There are a number of common situations where pedestrians can be found to be at fault for an accident, even if they are not hit by the car or injured. They include :
What Happens If You're In A Car Accident With An Uninsured Driver Not At Fault?
Being involved in an accident is bad enough. But, getting into an accident that is not your fault and with an uninsured motorist can complicate things.
The good news is you are covered. All insurance policies in Ontario include uninsured automobile coverage. This protects you in instances you are involved in an accident with another driver who does not have insurance.
You will deal directly with your insurance provider and they will compensate you for damage and medical costs.
What Do You Do After An Accident That Is Your Fault?
Once you make sure everyone is okay at the accident scene, file a police report, take your vehicle to the reporting centre, and contact your insurer. Don’t admit fault.If you are found to be at fault, expect your insurance to increase when you policy is up for renewal. You may also have your policy not renewed.
If you have an accident on your record, it’s now more important than ever to compare quotes to find coverage and keep costs down.
What Do You Do After A Car Accident This Is Not Your Fault?
If you involved in a not at fault accident you will still be required to file a claim. The claims process works the same as if you were at fault. You report your accident at your local reporting centre, notify your insurer and fill out the require paper work.
At Fault Accident FAQs
Here are some additional frequently asked questions about at fault accidents in Ontario :
Yes. Your Ontario car insurance will cover you if you are at fault for an accident. Your insurance will cover the cost for repairs and medical costs. You will be required to pay your insurance deductible.
Accidents stay on your insurance for six years. Some insurance companies check as far as 10 years back.
Determining fault becomes more complex when more than 2 vehicles are involved. Fault is often shared in chain reaction type of accidents and multi vehicle collisions.
There are many factors at play in an intersection accident. Whether or not the light was red, a driver was turning left, traffic violations occurred, and more need to be considered to assign fault. Fault is always determined on a case by case basis.
Tire blowouts happen all the time. In general, tires are not covered by your insurance policy. A blowout itself may or may not be considered an accident, especially if no other vehicles are involved. The nature of the blowout will also be considered – it could be caused by debris or a manufacturer defect. Fault is determined on a case by case basis.
An insurance claim from hitting a pothole is considered a single vehicle accident. Insurers classify this as an at fault accident.
No. Hitting a deer is not considered an at fault accident. The claim will be filed under your comprehensive coverage.
Contact Us If You Have Any Questions About At Fault Accidents
If you have more questions about fault determination rules or at fault accidents, please don’t hesitate to contact our insurance professionals. We’re happy to provide clarification.
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