I had a minor side mirror bump with another vehicle, but there was no damage to either vehicles' mirrors. The other driver insisted that I provide my insurance information, which I did. I reported the incident to my insurance company. The other driver took the vehicle to the collision centre where it was confirmed that there was no damage. The other driver made a claim. Now the insurance company is holding the claim against me and using it to increase my premiums. Everybody agrees there was no damage. Can I do anything to have this claim removed from my record? Do I have a valid complaint?
Once you report a collision to the police or to your insurance company, your rates could take a hit — even when there's zero damage, said Ontario's insurance regulator.
"When a company is looking at what price to charge a consumer for auto insurance, a key factor is the consumer's driving record (which) includes accidents where they have been more than 25 per cent at fault," said Kristen Rose, Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO) spokesperson, in an email. "Consumers who have had accidents where they're more than 25 per cent at-fault over the last six years can expect to pay higher premiums – regardless of whether these accidents involved little or no damage."
How does your insurance company know you've had an accident? One way is if the accident has been reported to police at the scene of an accident or at a collision reporting centre.
In Ontario, the law says you have to report an accident to police if there's damage over $1000, if someone is injured, or if there's suspicion of a crime, such as drunk driving.
"In most accidents except minor parking lot fender benders, there's usually damage above $1000 and they have to be reported," said OPP Sgt. Peter Leon. "If there's no damage, there's no reason to report it."
If the accident occurs on a public road in Ontario, section 200 of the Highway Traffic act says you have to exchange insurance information to anyone "sustaining loss or injury."
Leon also suggests taking pictures – even if there's no damage.
"It's possible that the other person could try to claim damage that was already there," Leon said.
If the accident wasn't reported, just telling your insurance company about the accident can lead to a rate hike, said the Insurance Bureau of Canada.
"It depends on the company, they may say: 'It was technically a collision, so from a risk perspective we'll keep it on your record,'" said Pete Karageorgos, IBC Ontario manager of industry and consumer relations. "My question is: if there was no damage, why would you exchange information or report it?"
Because you admitted it was your fault when you talked to your insurance company, they can use it to raise your rates, Karageorgos said.
"It depends on the company – some companies have a policy where they forgive your first at-fault collision," Karageorgos said.
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