Car accidents are an unfortunate flipside of the numerous conveniences your automobile brings you. And at times, no matter how sincerely you may try to avoid it, mistakes – either on your part or someone else’s – do creep up, resulting in a car accident. The priority after any such incident is to ensure that you or anyone else involved is physically fit and all injuries are looked after.
You may also be asking yourself, “how long does an at-fault accident stay on your record in Ontario?” and what possible implications can it have on your car insurance and premium rates going forward.
In this article, we shall attempt to answer these pertinent questions that will help you understand the post-accident process in Ontario. If you want to learn how to get affordable car insurance rates in Canada, check out this webpage from Surex.
Longevity of at-fault accidents on your record in Ontario
The first thing you should know is what does an at-fault accident mean. It’s exactly as it sounds. You are the driver that caused this incident, and thus you are responsible and at fault for it.
Examples can include you failing to stop your vehicle in time or initiating contact that caused the accident. The degree of your involvement and responsibility must be determined by your insurer. They will conduct a thorough investigation and find someone at fault, either partial or full.
At-fault accident types
Several different types of accidents can be categorized as at-fault accidents. The most common types are listed below:
- Impaired Driving: Your driving may be impaired if you are under the influence of substances like alcohol or narcotics. Since these accidents almost always result in severe damages, you will be charged with DUI and insurance rates will skyrocket.
- Distracted Driving: If you lose your attention and focus from driving, you may end up in an accident. Trying to adjust your radio, eating, or using your phone are activities that can cause distracted driving and lead to accidents.
- Rear-End Collision: If you apply your brakes suddenly, get distracted while driving, or tailgate a car too closely, you may end up rear-ending another vehicle. Rear-end collisions can be highly damaging, and your insurance rates will shoot up due to risky driving habits.
An important thing to note here is that at-fault conditions apply to all drivers. The Insurance Bureau of Canada determines that whenever someone borrows your vehicle, they inadvertently end up borrowing your insurance too. If they are found at fault while driving your vehicle, the implications will extend to your insurance and your record.
How long does an at fault accident stay on your record in Ontario?
All the accidents you have ever been a part of or claims you have filed over a certain period go into your overall insurance record. This helps insurers calculate your premiums based on the perceived risk levels. In Ontario, even though some providers retain your at-fault incidents for up to 25 years, most of them are retained for six to nine years only.
Generally, and in compliance with the Highway Traffic Act (HTA), the aftereffects of the accident will have a greater impact on your insurance for a minimum period of three years.
In Ontario, another fallout of an at-fault accident is demerit points. Your record accrues demerit points for every accident you are involved in, typically for two years from the date of the incident. Your driver’s license may face cancellation, or you may have to face other penalties in case demerit points get accumulated enough.
Now you know the answer to the question, “how long does an at-fault accident stay on your record in Ontario?”.
Factors influencing the duration of accidents on your record
The main reasons that dictate how long at-fault accidents will stay on your record include:
The rules for determining fault in Ontario assign the responsibility to either one or multiple drivers involved in the accident.
Naturally, your involvement in an at-fault accident will determine its ultimate impact on your record. Your insurer is responsible for the investigation by reviewing all possible evidence, speaking to witnesses, and scanning the police report. The more your involvement is, the more significant the impact will be. Your insurance premium rates will increase even if you were fully or partially found at fault for the incident.
Driving record changes
Your driving history has a major role in determining the duration an accident stays in your record. In the province of Ontario, records like DUI, not wearing seatbelt, speeding tickets, or any form of high-risk driving behaviour all contribute to the history of your driving license. On the flip side, having a spotless record or displaying low-risk behaviour significantly reduces your risk factor.
Impact of an at-fault on insurance premium
The rise in insurance premium after an at-fault accident in Ontario depends on the severity of the accident, your involvement, and any other factors that may be involved. Generally, your insurance premium can see an increase within the range of 20-40% and, in some extreme cases, may even be doubled.
This gets significantly worse if you are repeatedly involved in at-fault accidents. Insurers will rightfully determine you as having high-risk behaviour, and your premiums may end up being three times what they used to be. Prior accidents, tickets, or violations on your record will contribute to a substantially higher premium.
Needless to say, if you want to keep your insurance premium rates low, keeping a squeaky clean driving record can help quite a bit.
How long does an at-fault accident stay on your record in Ontario? — Conclusion
The insurance industry is all about effective risk management. If you pose a higher risk than other drivers, your insurer will have to pay larger sums. This directly results in them increasing your premiums to protect their business and absorb the expenses. And since accidents in Ontario stay on your driving record for up to three years, you may end up shelling much more than initially perceived.
The best way to avoid all this is to drive safely and responsibly. Even though accidents are not entirely avoidable, the chances and risks can be significantly reduced by staying judicious and driving following the traffic rules.