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What to do after a car accident

There are roughly 148,000 motor vehicle collisions each year in the province, according to the 2020 Road Safety Annual Report. Thankfully, most of these car accidents are minor, and nobody is hurt. But what do you do after a car accident? Here, we’ll explore some tips to consider.
Immediately after
The first thing you need to do following even the most minor collision is stop your vehicle. You may be subject to a criminal investigation if you leave the scene1.
Second, check to see if anyone is injured. If someone is hurt, don't move them. Call 911, follow the call-taker's directions, and wait for help.
If it's safe to do so, get out of your vehicle and take pictures and videos of the scene and damage. It's important that you record as much information as possible; download our accident worksheet and keep it handy.
Move your vehicle off the road and onto the shoulder when it's safe. This is a courtesy to other drivers and won't affect your insurance claim1. If you can't move your vehicle, turn your hazard lights on or set up traffic cones, flags, or flares.
Call the police if there are injuries, the total damage to all vehicles involved appears to be more than $2,000, or if you suspect any drivers involved may be under the influence of alcohol or drugs1.
If your vehicle isn’t drivable, arrange a tow truck to pick you up. Call your insurance company to advise you on your coverage and share reasonable towing rates. They may even assist with having your vehicle towed to a preferred repair facility in your area.
Within 24 hours
If there are no injuries and the total damage to all vehicles involved appears to be less than $2,000, report your collision to the nearest Collision Reporting Centre in the jurisdiction where the collision occurred.
Call your insurance company to let them know what happened. They will guide you through the next steps and start your claim. It’s highly recommended that you make this call as soon as possible if you haven’t already called them from the scene. If insured with OTIP, our Curo Claims Services are available 24/7 to support you through the process.
Keep in mind

  • Never argue with the other driver(s). Emotions may be high but try to stay calm. If you feel unsafe, call 911.

  • Don’t voluntarily assume fault or responsibility. Although it’s very Canadian to say sorry, it’s best not to discuss the accident in too much detail with anyone other than the authorities and your insurance company. They will determine fault based on the evidence. Accident forgiveness coverage can protect you from increased car insurance rates after your first at-fault or partially at-fault collision.

  • Know your tow. Be wary of tow truck operators that show up on the scene unsolicited. Don’t feel pressured to accept their services. If you do, never sign a blank contract or work order. A towing company must give you an itemized invoice to review before towing starts.

Always be prepared
Motor vehicle collisions are always unexpected. Be prepared by keeping the following in your vehicle at all times1:

  • A pen and some paper

  • A printed copy of our accident worksheet (it will help you record valuable information on-scene)

  • Traffic cones, flags, or flares

  • A fire extinguisher

  • Booster cables

  • A tire repair kit and pump

  • A small toolkit

  • A towel

  • A pair of work gloves

  • A flashlight and spare batteries

  • Bottled water

  • Non-perishable food

  • Hand wipes

  • A thermal blanket

You wouldn’t have to use this information in a perfect world, but unfortunately, accidents happen. If one happens to you, you won’t have to worry about what to do next. If you're a current OTIP policyholder, contact us at 1-833-494-0089 to review your existing auto insurance policy, and discuss additional optional coverage such as our Worry-Free Bundle. If you're not insured with OTIP and are shopping for auto insurance, call us at 1-833-615-9326 to get a quote and receive a $20 gift card of your choice!

  1. Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario – What to do after an accident

Related article: How does a car accident impact my insurance rates?

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