What to do in case of a car accident

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Accidents happen. Even to the best drivers. From fender benders to fatal crashes, the road can be a dangerous place. While most people hope they will know what to do in an emergency situation, it's easy to forget some important steps in the face of a traumatic situation, depending on how serious it is, your auto insurance may be the last thing on your mind.

The following is a list of tips (which you'll hopefully never have to use) to help you minimize the damage of an unexpected auto accident.

Information Exchange Checklist

Well before an accident actually happens, prepare yourself by keeping a list of what specific information your auto insurance company would need to process your claim. You might find it handy to keep a copy on your mobile phone, but be sure to also keep a copy in your glove compartment.

  • Full names of all car owners and drivers involved (you may also want to take the names of any passengers or witnesses)
  • Driver's license numbers for all drivers involved
  • Applicable license plate numbers
  • Details of vehicles including colour, make and model name
  • Auto insurance policy numbers
  • Auto insurance company names and broker names

Whether it's on your phone or in your glove compartment, keep this list with you (along with a pen and notepad) whenever you're behind the wheel. You may also want to keep handy any information about provincial collision reporting requirements, as well as phone numbers and locations of reporting centres in your area. The faster you can exchange all of the appropriate information, the sooner you can wrap things up and get back on the road.

Safety first

When an accident first occurs, before you even think about your car insurance, it's important to make sure to stay calm and don't panic. Assess the situation and determine whether it's necessary to call the police or an ambulance.

Calling the police after a collision isn't always necessary, but imperative if any of the following factors are present:

  • Someone is hurt
  • One of the drivers appears to be drunk or guilty of a Criminal Code offence
  • There is major damage to your vehicle and it cannot be driven

If none of these factors are present, then your next step should be to move your car to the side of the road (but first make sure it's safe to do so, and turn on your hazard lights if necessary). Once you've moved to a safe area away from traffic, you can then take the time to gather all of the information you need (this could include taking photographs of any damage). You will then have to determine whether it's necessary to report the accident according to your province's regulations.

Report it ASAP

Even if everyone is okay after an accident, the aftermath can still involve some pretty serious financial trauma. You should make sure to file your claim with your insurance company as soon as possible. That way you can process the claim quickly and start managing the damages.

Practicing safe driving is the best way to avoid an accident, but in the event you're involved in a collision, you'll want to be sure you have the right coverage for your needs. If you need help finding an auto insurance quote, you're already where you need to be. PC® auto insurance can help you by comparing rates from up to nine different insurance companies, and find one with the best possible value for you. Get your free, no-obligation PC® car insurance quote right here.

How to make a claim

Call 1-877-251-8656 to speak with a Claims Advisor.

Renewing your policy

Call 1-877-251-8652 for information regarding policy renewal.

Buying a new policy

Call 1-866-660-9035 for information on obtaining a quote.

Need help?

Take a look at the top 5 FAQs:

  • What are my choices in terms of auto coverage?

    What are my choices in terms of auto coverage?

    If you own or drive a vehicle in Canada, you must be insured. Different provinces have different requirements, but the four mandatory elements of auto insurance are:

    1. Liability - if you cause an accident and someone sues you
    2. Accident benefits - if you or someone in your vehicle is hurt in an accident
    3. Direct compensation – property damage (Ontario only)- if your vehicle gets damaged (and it's determined you're not at-fault or only partly at-fault)
    4. Uninsured motorist - if you're in an accident with an uninsured or hit-and-run driver
  • How do I reduce my insurance costs?

    How do I reduce my insurance costs?

    There are several things you can do to reduce your insurance premium costs:

    1. Work on your driving record
      Here's an easy, yet effective way to bring down your insurance costs: build a consistent accident and conviction-free track record with an insurance company.
    2. Choose your automobile wisely
      Do your research before you invest in a new car. Read consumer reports, and check with your insurance company to find out which cars tend to be targets for theft and vandalism. Remember, if you buy a car with a high theft rate, your premium will be higher.
    3. Adjust how you use your car
      By adjusting the way you use your vehicle, you can also bring down the cost of your insurance rates. If you live in a metropolitan area:
      • can you take the subway, train or bus to work?
      • has your job changed, or have you moved recently?
      • do you use your automobile to drive a short distance to work?
      • does your vehicle get used for low annual kilometers?
        If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may be entitled to lower insurance costs. Another consideration is whether you let others use your car. It is sometimes possible to exclude certain high-risk drivers from your policy so that good drivers are not penalized with a higher premium.
    4. Choose a higher deductible
      If you choose a higher deductible up front, your premiums will be lower.
    5. Review your coverage
      Take a closer look at your coverage to make sure you're not paying for things you don't need.
  • How can I earn PC® points?

    How can I earn PC® points?

    When you use your President's Choice Financial® MasterCard® to pay your PC auto insurance premium, you'll get 20 PC points per dollar of your premium. If you use your President's Choice Financial bank card to pay your PC auto insurance premium, you'll get 10 PC points per dollar of your premium.

  • Are other drivers insured to drive my car?

    Are other drivers insured to drive my car?

    Yes, as long as he/she has your permission to drive the vehicle, has a valid driver's licence and has not been specifically excluded from driving the vehicle. However, all licensed drivers in your household must be listed on your policy—regardless of how often they use your vehicle.

  • What is a deductible?

    What is a deductible?

    A deductible is the amount that you agree to pay towards the repair or replacement of your vehicle before your insurance pays the rest. You choose your deductible amount when you purchase your auto insurance. The higher your deductible, the lower your premium.

See all Auto Insurance FAQs

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