3 Things to Know About At-Fault Car Accidents & Insurance Rates

If you’re ever involved in an at-fault accident, first things first, we hope everyone involved is safe and injury-free. When your mind switches to the auto insurance side of things, there are some things you need to know.

For starters, just because you’re in an at-fault accident, that doesn’t mean you’re a bad driver. According to Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation, there are about 67,000 accidents each year in Ontario. Averaged out, that’s nearly 200 accidents per day. The probability of being involved in an accident is extremely low, considering the number of people out driving in Ontario on any given day, yet it can happen.

Here are 3 things to know about at-fault car accidents & auto insurance rates.

How long will an at-fault accident impact your auto insurance rates?

An at-fault accident will stay on your driving record for at least six years. If you’ve already gone six consecutive years without an at-fault accident on your driving record, then you might be eligible for accident forgiveness through your car insurer, should you be involved in an at-fault accident.

Ontario, unlike many provinces, assigns percentages to accidents. If you’re deemed 0% at-fault in an accident, this will not go on your driving record. If you’re deemed 25-100% at-fault in a car accident, this will go on your driving record, causing your annual car insurance premiums to increase. As an FYI, being assigned 1-24% at-fault doesn’t exist in Ontario. You’re either 0% at-fault or 25%+.

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The more at-fault accidents you have on your record, the higher of risk auto insurers will deem you, meaning your rates will be higher – all things equal – compared to someone without at-fault accidents on their record.

How do insurance companies know who’s at fault?

Ontario uses a system called the Fault Determination Rules, which came into regulation in 1990.

Per the Fault Determination Rules, there are six categories of accidents:

  • Vehicles traveling in opposite directions
  • Vehicles traveling in the same direction & lane
  • Vehicles traveling in the same direction, in adjacent lanes
  • Vehicles coming together at an intersection
  • Accidents that take place in a parking lot
  • Other

For accidents involving criminal offenses, such as DUI and/or driving at extreme speeds, the police will provide the insurers of the people involved in the accident their police report. This further helps insurers in determining who was responsible, and at what percentage.

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Can there be an appeal process?

As far as auto insurance and appealing your percentage of ‘’at-fault’’ in an accident, yes! This is why it’s so important to document every aspect of the accident you were involved in. If possible, you can even get accounts from people who witnessed the accident.

Due to the appeal process, and how being even 25% at-fault in an accident can negatively impact your car insurance rates, many people in Ontario purchase dash cams to have hard evidence, should they be involved in an accident and disagree with how the at-fault pie was split.

Most insurers in Ontario have hired 3rd party arbitrators to make independent rulings on appeals.

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