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Winter's coming … and so are the fender benders.

When do you report an accident, when don't you, and what are the consequences? Here are the key points to remember.

Reporting an accident under $1,000

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To the police: you must report all accidents where anyone has sustained an injury, no matter how minor or where there has been damage done to the property, such as telephone poles, guard rails or personal property including someone's lawn.

You're generally not required to report an accident (to police or a collision centre) if you estimate the total damage (both vehicles) to be under $1,000. This is the most common threshold, but some police authorities have different rules of thumb.

To your insurer: Your insurance policy states that you are required to report all accidents regardless of the amount of damage. Insurance companies base their rates on "risk" regardless of how minor the accident is or who pays for it.

If there was an "incident" your insurance company wants to know about it regardless of who was at-fault. Even if your insurance company does not pay out a single penny, or in fact if you decide to pay for it yourself. If you are deemed to be at-fault or partially at-fault the accident it will count against you, and your insurance rate will increase.

Be aware that if you don't report an accident, if the other driver does report it to their insurance company (even if there was no damage or personal injury), your insurance company will be contacted. In that case, the only report on record will be by the other driver. Their account of the accident may be completely different from yours, and this will not do you any favours.

Reporting an accident over $1,000

Again, you must report all accidents to police where anyone has sustained an injury, no matter how minor or where there has been damage done to property. If you estimate the total damage to be over $1,000, you are required to report it to the police or a collision-reporting centre. (Again, some police authorities may have different thresholds).

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Note that it is neither the responsibility of the police or the collision-reporting centre to report the accident to your insurance company. You're the one responsible for that.

The accident will not count against you, nor will your rate increase if you're "not at-fault" for the accident.

But if you didn't report the accident to your insurance company and it learns about it (usually from the other driver) it might cancel or not renew your policy, regardless of whose fault the accident was.

Accidents on private property or parking lots

If you have an accident on private property the police will not come to the scene unless there are injuries or property damage.

Each driver is usually considered to be 50 per cent at-fault for these accidents by insurance companies - meaning both drivers' rates will likely increase for six years.

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Insurance companies turn to the Fault Determination Rules in the Insurance Act to determine which driver is at fault in an accident. To review the Fault Determination Rules, please use the following link;

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