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The ultimate guide to accident forgiveness

If you have a spotless driving record, chances are you’re already reaping the rewards through lower insurance premiums. However, accidents can happen to even the most careful drivers. After years of claims-free driving, the thought of a potential increase in your premiums caused by your first collision can be stressful. This is where accident forgiveness coverage can offer peace of mind.
What is accident forgiveness?
Accident forgiveness is insurance coverage that protects drivers from an increase to their car insurance rate after their first at-fault or partially at-fault collision. Your insurer essentially “forgives” your first accident, so long as it was not a major driving offence. This means that when your insurance policy renews, your premiums won’t be impacted due to the collision.
What are the benefits of accident forgiveness?
Some of the main benefits of having accident forgiveness coverage include the following:

  • Protection against rate increases after your first at-fault collision. With accident forgiveness coverage, your first at-fault collision won’t cause an increase in your insurance premiums — so long as you meet the requirements and limitations outlined by your insurer.

  • Peace of mind. Feel more secure on the road, knowing that a single mistake won’t cause you to lose out on the low premiums you worked hard to get.

  • Better driving habits. Staying claims-free incentivizes safe driving behaviour, encouraging more responsible and mindful driving habits.

Who is eligible for accident forgiveness?
Eligibility requirements will vary depending on your insurance provider. Typically, this coverage is reserved for claims-free drivers with a clean driving record to reward them for years of safe driving.
Remember that collisions (even if “forgiven”) still appear on your driving record. Even if you switch insurance providers, you will likely be ineligible for accident forgiveness coverage if you’ve already been involved in an at-fault collision.
Other standard eligibility requirements and limitations include the following:

  • Accident-free period. You must be licensed and accident-free for a defined number of years (typically six years).

  • Qualifying period. Some insurance companies require a policy with them for a set amount of time before you can qualify for accident forgiveness coverage.

  • Personal use only. Most insurers limit accident forgiveness coverage to personal vehicles and do not offer it for commercial vehicle policies.

What is not covered by accident forgiveness?

  • Major traffic offences. Accident forgiveness will not apply if you are convicted of a major offence under the Ontario Highway Traffic Act or criminal charges — such as impaired driving, racing or stunt driving and failure to remain at the accident scene.

  • Subsequent accidents. Accident forgiveness is a one-time offer. It only applies to your first at-fault or partially at-fault collision. Any subsequent collisions in which you are found at fault will likely cause an increase in your insurance premiums.

  • Driving record. Accident forgiveness won’t erase the collision from your driving record. If you switch insurance providers, your new insurer will still factor in your “forgiven” collision when calculating your rate and charge you higher premiums as an at-fault driver. Accident forgiveness also does not protect you from being charged or receiving demerit points due to the collision.

How do I get accident forgiveness?
Some insurance providers offer accident forgiveness as a standard part of their policy, while others provide this coverage as an optional add-on.

If you’re a current OTIP car insurance policyholder, contact us at 1-833-615-9329 to review your policy and discuss additional coverage, such as our Worry-Free Bundle. If you’re shopping for car insurance, call us at 1-833-494-0085 for a free quote.

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