Be prepared in the event of a car accident
When a fender bender occurs, it’s easy to become emotional and lose your bearings. Although you can’t predict whether, when or how a road accident might occur, it’s good to know how to react and be prepared. Here are a few things to keep in mind.
In the heat of the moment after a minor accident, “the first reflex should always be to think about people before property damage,” reminds Mélissa Corriveau, Manager, Technical Consulting, Claims (Quebec), at Desjardins Insurance. Check on the passengers in your vehicle, including yourself, to make sure everyone is physically safe. Do the same with the other vehicle or vehicles involved. Take a step back and a few deep breaths to help you stay calm. Then, address the administrative aspects of the accident.
In the event of a minor collision
If you have a traffic accident and there are no injuries, you don’t have to call the police to the scene. Complete a joint report with the other driver.
Is a joint report an admission of liability?
Not at all! There is a misconception that the joint report serves to confess an infraction, or to establish equal and common responsibility with the other vehicle involved.
A joint report is the best way to collect all the necessary information, and its use facilitates the insurance claim procedure. This is imperative!
When should you call the police?
- In the event of a hit-and-run accident: Note the incident timeline (arrival on the scene, accident), the make and licence plate number of any cars parked near yours, the contact information of any witness drivers if the incident took place on the road, and any other details that could help find the person at fault.
- If the accident occurs outside your home province: “Laws and regulations can vary greatly from one province to another and especially from one state to another in the United States,” warns Corriveau. The risk of lawsuits against insureds is very high, both for property damage and bodily injury. Feel free to take photos of the third party’s vehicle and the damage caused.”
- When a person is injured: Getting a police report facilitates further procedures, particularly with the insurer.
If you’re in a road accident and there are injuries, stay calm and quickly dial 9-1-1 to call the police and paramedics. Once the situation is under control, it’s time to contact your insurer to report the accident or file a claim online.
In more complex cases or if the accident takes place on a highway, it may also be advisable to call in emergency services. Allow time for your insurer to receive the police report.
What documents should you have in case of an accident?
Like a first-aid kit, keep these documents in your vehicle at all times:
- Always have a joint report—and a pencil—in the glove compartment. The printable version is available here.
- Always have your official documents: driver’s licence, registration certificate and proof of insurance handy.
- Pre-fill in the sections of the report related to your documents.
Information to be collected
If you don’t have a joint report, write down the contact information for the other driver or drivers. When there are more than 2 vehicles involved:
- Telephone number
- Driver’s licence number
- Registration certificate
- Insurance certificate (policy number and insurer’s name)
Remember to note the location of the fender bender, such as an address or intersection, and note any damage to the vehicles. This information will help to determine the degree of responsibility of each driver involved, according to the established benchmarks. Photos can also help with the claims process.
Contact your insurer right away to report the loss or to file a claim online.
What is your insurance coverage?
In Canada, a driver is legally required to have civil liability insurance on their vehicle. Driving without this insurance exposes the driver to a significant fine or could result in the suspension of their driver’s licence. When you purchase property and casualty insurance for your vehicle, your policy will include liability coverage.
- Civil liability insurance protects the insured against the financial consequences that could be imposed on them for property damage and bodily injury caused to others.
- Vehicle damage insurance provides the insured with compensation for property losses.
P&C insurance will protect you against the consequences of an accident or loss that may occur suddenly and unpredictably. The auto insurance contract covers the main driver, occasional or additional drivers registered on the contract and passengers. The “civil liability” component covers damage caused to others, whether it’s a pedestrian or the occupants of another vehicle.
Plan for the cost!
Understanding the coverage included in your insurance policy is one way to properly assess the financial consequences of a loss and ensure that your coverage meets your needs.
Ask yourself these simple questions:
- What do you want to protect?
- What assets do you want to insure to limit the cost of repair or replacement in the event of damage, destruction or theft?
- How much will it cost to repair or replace these assets?