Auto Insurance Claims 101: What to Know When Making A Claim After A Car Accident

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It can be one of the most stressful, unpleasant, experiences of your life: getting into a car accident.

We can’t promise that we can take all the stress out of the experience, but we can at least help to demystify the auto insurance claim-making process a bit. Here, we’ve partnered with TD Insurance to bring you Auto Insurance Claims 101: a detailed walkthrough of things to know before filing your first auto insurance claim following an accident.

Now you can get an insurance quote and buy online in just minutes!

What to do following an accident

While contacting your insurance company is critical, there are some other steps that should come before, including:

  • Checking for injuries. If someone is injured, call 911
  • Moving yourself out of harm’s way
  • If your car is drivable, move to the shoulder of the road or towards the nearest curb
  • Go to the side furthest from the road or stay in your car if it isn’t safe to exit

Whether or not you need to contact police can vary depending on the province you’re in and the circumstances of the accident. For example, in Ontario, you are required to contact police if anyone is injured, if the total damages to all vehicles exceeds $2,000 or you suspect there may be criminal activity involved, i.e. driving under the influence. If in doubt, always call in to report.

Once you confirm that everyone’s safe and police have been contacted (if necessary), you can start taking action on your insurance claim.

What to do following an accident

  • Report the incident to your insurance company. If you’re with TD Insurance, you can start the claim through the TD Insurance Mobile App, online through the MyInsurance web portal or by calling them directly (available 24/7).
  • Exchange critical information with the driver(s) of the other car(s) involved:
    • Name
    • Address
    • Contact phone number
    • Driver’s license number
    • Insurance information (including policy number)
    • License plate number
    • Make, colour and model of the other car
  • Take pictures of the scene and of any damage

If it’s safe to do so, consider capturing some other accident details:

  • Witness contact information (if there are witnesses)
  • Details regarding the scene of the accident (like any major intersections or road conditions)
  • The police report. You can ask officers at the scene for the police report number. If police are not at the scene, you should call your local police station to report the accident as soon as possible. It’s also important to report a hit and run to the police right away.

Some provinces or regions may also require additional accident reporting. For example -

  • In Atlantic Canada, an accident must be reported to the police if the damage is significant, if there are any injuries or if you suspect a crime, such as the other driver being impaired.
  • In Quebec, if no one is injured, you will need to fill out a Joint Report with the other driver.
  • In Ontario, you should bring your car to a Collision Reporting Centre within 24 hours.
  • In Alberta, if the repair cost is high enough, you will need to bring your car to a Collision Reporting Centre to get a damage sticker, which the auto shop needs to begin repairs.
  • If your vehicle is not drivable, you should arrange to have a tow from a reputable towing company. The TD Insurance mobile app makes this easy for customers by providing quick access to towing services with the touch of a button.

This may seem like a lot to remember but keep in mind your insurance company will to support you along the way. The TD Insurance mobile app offers customers a convenient accident tool-kit to help navigate the steps following an accident, along with other useful features, such as towing & roadside assistance and the ability to locate one of our preferred vendor repair shops. Plus, you can start a claim immediately on your phone. If you are already a TD Insurance customer download the mobile app now to ensure you're prepared for the unexpected.

What happens next?

Whether you're initiating a claim following an accident or another type of loss, from this point on it's your insurance company's job to make the rest of the experience as quick and as painless as possible.

Regardless if you start your claim online or over the phone, your insurance company will first need to gather necessary information to ensure they understand the situation fully and completely. From here your insurer can confirm coverages that were in place at the time of loss. Once your claim has been initiated, you will be assigned and Adjuster who will oversee your claim and be your main point of contact throughout the process.

Assuming your claim involves damages to your vehicle, your Adjuster will arrange an appraisal to assess damages and determine whether the vehicle can be repaired. If you've lost the use of your vehicle due to the loss and provided you are eligible, your insurer can arrange a temporary rental vehicle to keep you on the road while your claim is being handled.

And, when it comes to making vehicle repair less stressful, TD Insurance offer customers a convenient one-stop-shop in several markets. At the TD Insurance Auto Centres, they can walk you through the claims process, assess damages, repair your vehicle and provide you with a rental car. Alternatively, you can choose to use one of hundreds repair shops within their preferred vendor network or, even use your own preferred shop. The choice is yours.

In the event that your vehicle cannot be repaired or is otherwise considered a Total Loss, your claim will move to the settlement stage, where the Adjuster will move to offering you a payment, which is generally based on the Actual Cash Value of your vehicle, or "used" value of the vehicle, immediately prior to the loss, less the deductible (if applicable). If your vehicle was newer, you may have additional coverage, such as a Limited Waiver of Depreciation, which effectively waives the right for the insurer to apply depreciation to your settlement, thus increasing the settlement amount - often significantly. Again, if you're unsure of your coverages, you can always consult your policy documentation or contact your insurer directly to confirm.

If your claim involves injuries that you sustained from the accident, your Adjuster will work with you and the appropriate medical professionals to help get on the road to recovery.

Once all aspects of the claim are settled, your Adjuster will move to close the claim.

A question that often comes up during the claims process is whether or not your premium will be affected. This can be a difficult question to answer as it depends on a variety of factors, including the type of loss, the province you live in and other consideration, such as whether you have some form of accident forgiveness. If your premiums are affected, the change won't be reflected until your next renewal. It's also important to note that many factors go into determining your premium. Things like where you live, the type of car you drive, how far you drive each day and other considerations can all affect the price you pay.

At the end of the day, no one wants to be in a position where they need to use their insurance but everyone should feel confident that their insurance will be there for them in their moment of need. While your insurance company is there to help you navigate the claims process, it's important that you have confidence in your coverage and know what to do if something were to happen.

For more tips & advice to help with the claims process, check out these tools & resources from TD Insurance. You can also click here to get a car insurance quote.

Now you can get an insurance quote and buy online in just minutes!