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Not sure what to do if you get into a car accident? Follow these 5 steps

It’s just another day and you’re driving to work, picking up your kids, buying groceries, or visiting family when it happens—a car accident. After screeching to a halt, your adrenaline is pumping, your heart is racing, and your palms are sweating. When you’re in a panic it can be tricky to know what to do. By reviewing these steps now, you’ll be ready to jump into action if the time comes.

Handle a car accident like a pro by remembering “S.A.F.E.R.” and following these five steps:

  1. Stay calm
    Stop your vehicle when and where it is safe to do so. Check if any passengers in your vehicle are injured. Safety is the number one priority—if possible, move your vehicle to the shoulder or somewhere out of harm’s way and turn your hazard lights on to alert other drivers. 

  2.  Assess the situation
    Look around at all vehicles involved. Assess any injuries to passengers and other drivers or damage to the vehicles. If someone is severely injured, do not move them until medical help arrives. 

  3. Flag the professionals
    If there are serious injuries, call 911 immediately to get an ambulance on the scene. It’s required to report the car accident to police in Ontario if anyone is injured, the damage is more than $2,000, or you suspect someone is guilty of a Criminal Code offence such as impaired driving. If no one is injured and the damage is minor, you should call a Collision Reporting Centre within 24 hours instead. 1

  4. Exchange information 
    Make sure you record all relevant information from other drivers at the scene, including each driver’s name, licence plate, phone number, car insurance company name, policy number, type of vehicles involved, location of each vehicle, and names and contacts for passengers or witnesses. To make sure you don’t miss any important details, it can help to keep an accident report sheet in your glovebox in case of emergency.
    If someone involved flees the scene, try to write down or take a picture of their licence plate. You’ll also want to take plenty of photos of damage to each vehicle, all the vehicles involved in the accident, any injuries, and the road conditions. 

  5. Reach out to insurance 
    Once you’ve handled the crisis and are in a safe place, report the car accident to your insurance provider. If you are a current OTIP policyholder, contact Curo Claims Services. If you are at fault, your insurance premiums may rise, but if it’s your first at fault accident and you have accident forgiveness, it can prevent your insurance premiums from rising.
    Although the other driver may be reluctant to file an insurance report, asking instead if they can pay out-of-pocket for damages, it’s still better to go through your car insurance provider because there is no guarantee the other driver will pay on time or agree to the repair quote. Additionally, reporting to insurance could give you access to statutory accident benefits to cover medical costs for injuries you or your passengers received from the accident.

And one last thing to remember—although it’s very Canadian to want to say sorry, it’s best not to admit fault or discuss the accident in too much detail with anyone except the police and your car insurance company. They will determine fault based on the evidence, so it’s best to leave that to the professionals. 

OTIP offers a variety of coverage add-ons tailored to your needs. To learn more about adding accident forgiveness coverage to your car insurance policy, contact an OTIP insurance broker at 1-800-267-6847.

1.    Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario

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