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Lee Romanov (Charla Jones/Charla Jones/THE GLOBE AND MAIL)
Lee Romanov (Charla Jones/Charla Jones/THE GLOBE AND MAIL)

It's Covered

The truth about solo car accidents Add to ...

Whether you swerved to avoid a squirrel or a child, if you hit something like a tree or a fire hydrant you're still at fault - and not just with Mrs. Tiger Woods.

When a car accident occurs, the police want to know if you have a valid driver's licence, insurance, and your vehicle registration information. If you don't have this on hand, you can be ticketed.

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These types of non-moving violations may cause your insurance rate to increase, quite likely by the same amount as receiving a speeding ticket would. Tickets can affect your insurance rate for three years.

Furthermore, a single-vehicle accident is usually accompanied by some sort of traffic violation. This ticket can be anything from a minor traffic violation, such as failure to yield, to a more serious offence such as dangerous or criminal driving causing an accident.

Additionally, if there's any suspicion of alcohol or drugs leading up to the crash, the police can ask for a breathalyzer or bring you directly into the station for drug recognition testing.

It is important to be aware that the police determine whether a law has been broken, but your insurance company determines who is at fault.

Even if you weren't ticketed for the accident and the police say it wasn't your fault, if you are found to be either partially or completely at fault for an accident through the fault determination rules used by the insurance companies, it will have an impact on your insurance.

If you swerve to miss an animal and collide with a guardrail or another vehicle, the damage is covered if you purchased collision coverage, but the accident will be considered your fault.

Even if a person runs out in front of your car and you swerve to miss him or her and hit something else, the insurance company considers you to be at fault because they feel that it's your responsibility to be in "care and control" of your car at all times.

Approximately 50 per cent of insurance companies do not increase their rates for a minor ticket. However, all insurance companies increase their rates for a major ticket, such as careless driving. You can review the breakdown between major and minor tickets at romanovreport.com.

There is quite a spread of rates between insurance companies. Most drivers are afraid to switch companies after an accident; however that's exactly the time you should be looking around.

When your insurance rate increases after an accident, it will remain high for six years, so you want to be with the insurance company that is charging the least.

Lee Romanov is an insurance consumer advocate and creator of romanovreport.com.

Follow us on Twitter: @Globe_Drive



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