Blog Here's How An At-fault Accident Can Impact Your Insurance

May 30, 2024

How will an at-fault accident impact insurance?

damaged black and grey cars parked beside each other

One of the first things that comes to mind when you cause an accident is how it will impact your insurance. Your insurer will cover you if you are at-fault for an accident (you may not be covered if you commit a crime related to the collision).

Insurers will cover the cost of repairs and medical treatments. However, you must pay your deductible. And unfortunately, your policy may increase. So, there’s still a financial cost of causing a collision.

Drivers should be aware of one crucial thing when involved in an accident – never admit fault at the scene. If possible, avoid discussing it with the other drivers involved. Instead, document what happened, take photos, gather witness contact information, and follow the police instructions or head to the accident reporting center.

Read on to learn more about how at-fault accidents can increase your car insurance.

Three main takeaways about insurance and at-fault accidents:

  • If you are involved in an at-fault accident, your rate can increase for up to six years because this is how long it can stay on your driving record.
  • Depending on how many accidents you’ve been involved with, you’ll see a 25% to 50% percent increase (or more) in your policy for being at-fault.
  • Fault is allocated to each driver based on which scenario most closely resembles the accident and is decided by insurance providers and reports from the collision.

What’s on this page

How much does insurance increase after an at-fault accident?
How long does an at-fault accident affect insurance?
Do the police have anything to do with the insurance company’s fault assessment?
What happens if you get in a car accident with no insurance and are at-fault?
Insurance and at-fault accident FAQs

How much does insurance increase after an at-fault accident?

If you are found to be at fault for an accident, you can expect your insurance rates to increase. The extent of the increase depends on various factors such as:

  • Your driving record: If you have a clean record, your premiums will likely go up less than if you have an accident or two on your record.
  • Accident forgiveness: Consider adding this endorsement to protect yourself.
  • Type of accident: Depending on the type of at-fault accident you were involved in, you may see a higher increase depending on the severity. If you’ve had several at-fault accidents, you may need high-risk insurance coverage going forward.

How long does an at-fault accident affect insurance?

An at-fault accident can impact your insurance rates for up to six years. The claim will be on your record during this time, and providers will adjust your costs accordingly. Here are some examples:

  • First-time at-fault accident: If you have been a claim- and conviction-free driver for six or more years, your premium may not change. If there is a change, it will likely be small. It will go on your record the first time you have an at-fault accident. It will take six years of claim-free and conviction-free driving to clear your record completely.”
  • Second at-fault accident within five years: Your insurance premiums may increase due to the accidents. You may be labelled as a high-risk driver depending on the severity and circumstances of the accidents. Clear this from your record; it will take six years of driving claims-free.

How do insurance companies determine who is at-fault in a car accident?

Fault determination rules were created to help insurance companies, police, and others determine who is at-fault and how much fault they share. Your insurer determines who is at-fault. To do this, they use the Fault Determination Rules created under the Insurance Act to investigate the accident and assign it. Who is at-fault for an accident is only sometimes clear initially. Many factors go into fault determination, such as who was involved, where they were driving, speed, and road conditions.

Fault determination rules cover many different accident types and driving situations:

  • 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 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.

Under the Ontario Fault Determination Rules, they explain, after you report an accident, the company will investigate the circumstances and then make a decision based on the accident fault determination rules in Ontario.

2. (1) An insurer shall determine the degree of fault of its insured for loss or damage arising directly or indirectly from the use or operation of an automobile in accordance with these rules.

Here are some considerations that insurers will explore to determine fault:

  • Both drivers involved in the accident will provide their accounts to their insurance companies. If the police were involved, their report would be reviewed, including witness statements, officer observations, and any citations issued. The details of the accident are matched against predefined scenarios to determine fault.
  • Ontario operates under a no-fault insurance system, but fault determination still matters for insurance premium calculations.
  • Fault can be wholly or partially assigned to one or multiple parties. If new evidence becomes available, the initial fault determination can be reassessed.
  • The driver found at-fault may face an increase in their insurance. Some insurance policies include accident forgiveness clauses.
  • If a driver disagrees with the fault determination, they can dispute it with their insurance company or take the matter to arbitration or court for a final decision.

Want to learn more about the fault determination rules? Visit the Service Ontario website.

car with front headlight damaged

Do the police have anything to do with the insurance company’s fault assessment?

Contrary to popular belief, the police do not impact 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, you can still be responsible for the crash.

FSCO provides a good example :

For example, if a vehicle could not 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 that rear-ends another is at-fault.

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 your medical bills. You will be fined and could face charges depending on the circumstances.

Find a better rate, even with an at-fault claim on your record

Don't let an at-fault claim stop you from finding a lower rate. Start comparing coverage today with the top insurers in Canada.

Red car driving on road

Insurance and at-fault accident FAQs

If you are at fault in an accident, your Ontario car insurance could increase. However, you may only see an increase if you are at least 25% at fault.

Your insurance is unlikely to increase if you are in a non-fault accident and not at fault for the crash. It's a common misconception that filing a claim will automatically result in a rate change.

Your actual coverage will remain unchanged - you will still have the same protections and limits in place. But your premiums will increase if you are at-fault. Your classification could also change to high risk, resulting in more expensive payments for coverage.

Final thoughts on at-fault accidents and the impact on your policy

Even if you are at fault, searching around when your policy is up for renewal is recommended. This will increase your chances of finding the most affordable car insurance for your needs.