Insurance Claims Process for Car Accidents

April 8, 2023


Uh oh. On your way home from work, you were involved in a fender bender with another driver. While this isn’t the worst of issues you could have been faced with or the most severe of accidents, you will still want to be prepared for what to do next after the fact. Being prepared can help put you in a better mindset for when the worst does happen so that you can keep your stress levels under control, maintain a clear head, and take it step-by-step.

The thing is that car insurance claims happen – and when they do, you’ll be glad you had the right coverage. It can be overwhelming in the moment, but remember that your friendly brokers are here to help you out. Read on for what to do after a car accident, how to make a claim, and how to ensure you are set up for success with the claims’ process.

What to do immediately following a collision

Safety first, insurance second. Make sure that, if possible, you pull your car over to a safe spot where it is not impeding other vehicles on the road, pedestrians, or in harm’s way. You may want to select an area that is public and well-lit so that emergency services can see you and the other driver or drivers involved. If your car may be a hazard in the road, you may even opt to move it to a sidewalk if there are no better alternatives nearby. If you cannot move your car, you and your passengers should exit the vehicle and get to a safe distance away – but don’t leave the scene.

Turn on your hazards to alert other cars of the issue. At this point, you might be feeling uncertain, disoriented, or even confused. Take a couple of deep breaths and stick to a basic plan.

If there are any pets, young children, elderly folk, or disabled persons in the car with you, you may wish to wait until emergency responders arrive to remove them first just in case they have any injuries you cannot immediately see.

Call 9-1-1. Once you and/or your vehicle are in a safe location, check for injuries and call for emergency services. Medical assistance should be called no matter what if there are children, elders, or disabled persons and even minor injury is being shown.

If you can speak calmly to the other driver, do so once it is safe to do so. Try to avoid conversation of who was at-fault, as tempers can run hot after a stressful event like a car accident. Keep to the facts.

Collect information, including the names and contact information of who was involved, insurance companies and policy numbers, the type/colour and model of the other vehicle, location of the accident, and anything else that you can gather that would seem helpful.

Now it’s time to call up your insurance company.

Report the claim within seven days of the accident

The insurance claims process for car accidents can be broken down into a few simple steps, but they can also vary depending on the severity of the incident. If you have been involved in an accident where there is property damaged or where you or someone else in your car has been injured, you will be required to report it to your provider or broker within seven days of the accident – whether you were at-fault or not. A claims’ representative will be assigned to your case, which will then be the person who you need to contact throughout the claims process. Depending on the severity of the incident, a claims adjuster may want to meet with you one-on-one. In some cases, claims will be handled solely via email and phone. You may be required to complete a claim form at this point.

A claims adjuster will assess to see to what extent your claim is covered by your policy and may break down the coverage as offered by your policy for you. Remember that, in Ontario, Fault Determination rules mean that your provider will assess the circumstances and make a decision as to who was at-fault.

What your insurance company may pay

There are generally two means of receiving payment from your insurance company. Generally, your provider will select the lower of two options.

  1. The ACV or actual cash value of your vehicle at the time of damage
  2. How much it takes to repair the damage

Your company will never pay more for repairs than the ACV at the time of damage. Should the repair costs exceed what the value of the car is in cash value, your car may be written off and you would then receive a cash reimbursement.

 Getting your vehicle repaired

If your estimate or the adjuster’s estimate has been approved, your insurance company may recommend you bring your vehicle to an approved auto repair or mechanic. This may be preferable to choosing a body shop on your own as now the insurance company is the one responsible for ensuring that your vehicle is repaired adequately.

Remember that, through this process, your broker is always there to help you out if you have any questions or concerns. The more information that you can supply to your insurance company and/or adjuster, the more likely you are to receive your claim faster.