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How Long Does an At-Fault Accident Stay on Your Insurance?

Date Posted:

March 27, 2024

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    At-fault car accidents bring with them a cloud of uncertainty and anxiety, especially regarding their impact on your car insurance premiums and record. A number of questions may come to mind. How much will my insurance premiums increase? How long does an at-fault accident stay on your insurance? Is there anything I can do about it? 

    In this blog, we delve into the nuances of at-fault accidents in Ontario, exploring how they influence insurance costs, how long they linger your driving record, and how you can go about mitigating some of these consequences.

    What is At-Fault Insurance?

    In Ontario, at-fault insurance is governed by specific legislation, including the Insurance Act and its accompanying Fault Determination Rules. These rules establish a standardized method for insurance companies to assess fault in car accidents. 

    Fault is determined by analyzing the circumstances of the accident against a set of predefined scenarios. These scenarios cover a wide range of situations, from rear-end collisions to accidents involving pedestrians, and they provide clear guidelines on how fault should be allocated.

    Upon receiving a claim, insurance companies review the accident details, including police reports, witness statements, and any available physical evidence, to make an informed fault determination. This assessment is not only pivotal in processing claims but also in deciding how the accident impacts the auto insurance premiums of those involved.

    At-Fault vs. No-Fault in Ontario

    Within the context of Ontario’s auto insurance landscape, no-fault insurance does not mean that fault is not considered in an accident. Instead, it refers to the way insurance claims are handled. 

    Under Ontario’s no-fault insurance system, regardless of who is found at fault for an accident, each party deals with their own insurance company for claims. This system streamlines the claims process and allows for quicker access to benefits and reparations without waiting for fault determinations between insurance companies. However, the determination of fault is still important, as it affects how claims are paid out and how future car insurance rates are calculated.

    The Impact of Accidents on Insurance

    An at-fault car accident can have a big impact on your insurance. When you’re determined to be at fault in an accident, insurance companies view you as a higher risk, which often results in increased insurance rates. The extent of the premium hike, and the types of auto insurance policies you qualify for, can vary based on the severity of the accident, your driving history, and your insurance company’s policies.

    Conversely, if you’re involved in an accident and are not found at fault, your premiums generally won’t increase as a direct result of the incident. This distinction underscores the importance of fault determination in insurance claims. That said, your premiums may increase as an indirect consequence of the accident. From the insurance company’s perspective, your mere involvement in an accident makes you more of a risk than someone who has never been in an accident. Therefore despite you not being at fault, your insurance premium may still increase.

    At-Fault Accidents and Your Driving Record – How Long Does an Accident Stay on Your Record?

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    In Ontario, an at-fault accident can remain on a driver’s record for up to six years. Your car insurance rates are generally affected for the duration of this period. The duration that an at-fault accident impacts your insurance premiums can vary depending on your provider and your auto insurance policy, but the common practice is to consider accidents within this six-year window when calculating rates.  Some insurance companies will offer an “accident forgiveness” option for an extra premium so that if you are involved in one accident your rates will not be affected. 

    Traffic violations and accidents collectively shape a driver’s risk profile. Each infraction or at-fault accident recorded on your driving history serves as an indicator of driving behaviour, suggesting a higher likelihood of filing future claims. Insurance companies adjust premiums upwards for drivers with records of at-fault accidents and traffic violations to reflect the increased risk of insuring such individuals.

    Legal Assistance and At-Fault Accidents

    Personal injury lawyers are an asset to individuals involved in at-fault accidents. They have the knowledge and experience to help you navigate the complexities of insurance claims and protect your rights throughout the process. 

    One of the key benefits of enlisting a personal injury lawyer is their ability to effectively negotiate with car insurance companies. Through skilled negotiation, lawyers can often secure more favourable settlement terms, potentially reducing the financial impact on premiums.

    Lawyers can also dispute fault determinations that may be unfairly assigned. By reviewing the accident’s circumstances and leveraging relevant legal precedents, they can challenge and often change initial fault assessments. This is particularly valuable in complex cases where the details of the incident do not clearly point to one party’s fault. 

    For instance, a lawyer might successfully argue that their client’s actions, while technically in violation of a traffic law, were not the primary cause of the motor vehicle accident, leading to a more equitable distribution of fault and, consequently, a lesser impact on insurance premiums.

    Another advantage of legal representation is streamlining the claims process as it pertains to overcoming bureaucratic hurdles and completing paperwork. The familiarity lawyers have with the procedures ensures your claims are filed correctly and expediently.

    McNally Gervan – Mitigating the Consequences of Your Accident

    As you can see, car accidents, especially when you are deemed to be at-fault, can have far-reaching consequences. 

    If you’ve been involved in an accident, get in touch with McNally Gervan. As a reputable personal injury law firm with years of experience, we have the skills and resources needed to soften the impact of your accident and expedite your claims process. Whether it’s a car insurance claim, a life insurance claim, or any other, trust McNally Gervan. Contact us today for a free consultation.