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HomeCar Insurance ResourcesFender benders and how they impact insurance cost

A “fender-bender” is a colloquial term used predominantly in North America to describe a minor car accident in which there is typically minimal damage and no serious injuries. The term comes from the idea that just the “fenders” of the cars might be bent or dinged, rather than more extensive damage.

In Canada, as in many places, if you’re involved in a fender-bender, it’s generally a good idea to exchange insurance and contact information with the other party, take pictures of the damage, and report the incident to your insurance company. Depending on the province and the specific details of the accident, there might also be requirements to report the accident to the police or a collision reporting center. Always be sure to check local regulations and guidelines.

Fender Benders How they impact Insurance Canada

Car insurance cost before and after fender-benders in Canada can vary significantly depending on the province, city, and the severity of the accident. Here are some approximate ranges for five major cities in each province:

  1. Ontario:
  • Toronto (before): $2,500 – $5,000 per year, (after): $3,500 – $7,500 per year
  • Ottawa (before): $2,000 – $4,500 per year, (after): $3,000 – $6,500 per year
  • Hamilton (before): $2,500 – $5,000 per year, (after): $3,500 – $7,000 per year
  • London (before): $2,000 – $4,500 per year, (after): $3,000 – $6,500 per year
  • Kitchener-Waterloo (before): $2,000 – $4,500 per year, (after): $3,000 – $6,500 per year
  1. Quebec:
  • Montreal (before): $1,500 – $3,000 per year, (after): $2,000 – $4,000 per year
  • Quebec City (before): $1,500 – $3,000 per year, (after): $2,000 – $4,000 per year
  • Laval (before): $1,500 – $3,000 per year, (after): $2,000 – $4,000 per year
  • Gatineau (before): $1,500 – $3,000 per year, (after): $2,000 – $4,000 per year
  • Longueuil (before): $1,500 – $3,000 per year, (after): $2,000 – $4,000 per year
  1. British Columbia:
  • Vancouver (before): $2,500 – $5,000 per year, (after): $3,500 – $7,000 per year
  • Surrey (before): $2,000 – $4,500 per year, (after): $3,000 – $6,500 per year
  • Burnaby (before): $2,000 – $4,500 per year, (after): $3,000 – $6,500 per year
  • Richmond (before): $2,000 – $4,500 per year, (after): $3,000 – $6,500 per year
  • Abbotsford (before): $1,500 – $3,500 per year, (after): $2,500 – $5,000 per year
  1. Alberta:
  • Calgary (before): $2,500 – $5,000 per year, (after): $3,500 – $7,000 per year
  • Edmonton (before): $2,000 – $4,500 per year, (after): $3,000 – $6,500 per year
  • Red Deer (before): $2,000 – $4,500 per year, (after): $3,000 – $6,500 per year
  • Lethbridge (before): $2,000 – $4,500 per year, (after): $3,000 – $6,500 per year
  • Medicine Hat (before): $2,000 – $4,500 per year, (after): $3,000 – $6,500 per year

Do I need to tell insurance about fender bender?

Whether or not you should report a fender bender to your insurance company depends on several factors, including the specifics of the accident, the policies of your insurance company, and local laws. Here are some considerations to keep in mind:

  1. Insurance Policy Requirement: Many insurance policies require policyholders to report any accident, no matter how minor. Failing to report could violate the terms of your policy, potentially causing issues if you or the other party decide to file a claim later on.
  2. Potential for Hidden Damage: Sometimes, what seems like a minor accident can lead to hidden damage that’s expensive to repair. If you don’t report the accident and later discover more damage, you might have difficulty getting the insurance company to cover the repairs.
  3. Other Party Might File a Claim: Even if both parties agree at the scene not to involve insurance, the other party could change their mind and file a claim later. If you haven’t reported the accident, this could put you at a disadvantage.
  4. Injury Symptoms Might Appear Later: Some injuries, like whiplash, might not be immediately apparent after an accident. If you or the other party discover injuries later on, not having reported the accident to your insurance could complicate matters.
  5. Legal Requirements: In some jurisdictions, there are legal requirements to report accidents that exceed a certain damage threshold or that involve injuries. Check your local laws to ensure you’re compliant.
  6. Potential for Increased Premiums: One of the reasons people hesitate to report minor accidents is the fear of increased insurance premiums. While this is a possibility, it’s not guaranteed, especially if you have accident forgiveness or if the accident was not your fault.
  7. Claiming Through Insurance: If you decide to repair your vehicle and want to claim the costs, you’ll need to have reported the accident to your insurance company.

In general, it’s often a good idea to report a fender bender to your insurance company, even if it seems minor. However, every situation is unique, and you should weigh the pros and cons based on your specific circumstances. If in doubt, consider seeking advice from an insurance professional or legal counsel.

Does insurance cover fender benders?

In Canada, auto insurance coverage for fender benders depends on the specifics of your insurance policy and the nature of the accident. Here’s a general overview of how insurance might cover a fender bender in Canada:

  1. Collision Coverage: If you have collision coverage as part of your insurance policy, it should cover the costs to repair or replace your vehicle after a fender bender, regardless of who was at fault. However, you will need to pay the deductible amount specified in your policy before the insurance covers the rest.
  2. Liability Coverage: All provinces in Canada require drivers to have a minimum amount of liability insurance. If you are found to be at fault for the fender bender, your liability coverage will pay for the other party’s vehicle repairs and potential medical costs, up to the limits of your policy.
  3. Direct Compensation – Property Damage (DC-PD) Coverage: In provinces with a “no-fault” system, like Ontario, there is a coverage called DC-PD that covers the damage to your car when another driver is at fault and both drivers have insurance with companies licensed in that province. This means you would claim through your own insurer for damage to your vehicle without having to pursue the other driver’s insurer.
  4. Comprehensive Coverage: While comprehensive coverage primarily deals with damages not caused by collisions (like theft, vandalism, or natural disasters), it might come into play if, for example, your fender bender was caused by hitting an animal.
  5. Deductibles: Remember that deductibles apply to certain types of coverage. If you file a claim under your collision or comprehensive coverage, you’ll have to pay the deductible first, and the insurance will cover the remaining costs.
  6. Potential Rate Increases: While insurance might cover the costs of repairs, it’s essential to note that making a claim can impact your future insurance premiums, especially if you’re found to be at fault.
  7. Accident Forgiveness: Some insurance policies in Canada offer accident forgiveness, where your first at-fault accident won’t result in an increase in premiums. This feature can be beneficial in the event of a fender bender.

Can fender benders cause back problems?

Yes, fender benders can cause back problems, even if the impact is relatively minor. The sudden force of a collision, even at low speeds, can jolt the body and spine, leading to injuries that might not be immediately noticeable but can develop into chronic conditions if not addressed. Here are some potential back problems and related issues that can result from fender benders:

  1. Whiplash: While often associated with neck pain, whiplash can also cause pain in the upper back. It occurs when the head is suddenly and forcefully jerked forward and then backward, straining the muscles and ligaments of the neck and upper back.
  2. Herniated Disc: The sudden impact of a fender bender can cause one of the spinal discs to rupture or herniate, leading to pain, numbness, or weakness in the back and possibly the limbs if the herniated disc compresses a nerve.
  3. Spinal Stenosis: A minor car accident can exacerbate pre-existing conditions, such as spinal stenosis, which is a narrowing of the spaces within the spine. This can put pressure on the nerves and lead to pain or numbness.
  4. Muscle Strains and Sprains: The sudden jolt from the collision can strain or sprain the muscles and ligaments in the back, leading to pain and inflammation.
  5. Aggravation of Pre-existing Conditions: If someone already has a pre-existing back condition, a minor collision can exacerbate the symptoms or lead to further complications.
  6. Delayed Symptoms: It’s essential to note that symptoms related to back problems from a fender bender might not manifest immediately. Some people might feel fine right after the accident but develop pain, stiffness, or other symptoms hours, days, or even weeks later.

Does a fender-bender always result in an insurance claim?

No, a fender-bender does not always result in an insurance claim. Whether or not an insurance claim is made after a fender-bender depends on the choices of the involved parties and the specific circumstances of the accident. Here are some scenarios and considerations:

  1. Mutual Agreement: Sometimes, both parties might assess the damage and decide to handle the repairs without involving their insurance companies, especially if the damage is minor. This could be due to concerns about increased insurance premiums or the potential hassle of filing a claim.
  2. Out-of-Pocket Payment: One party might agree to pay for the damages out-of-pocket, especially if they are clearly at fault and the damage is relatively inexpensive to repair.
  3. Unclear Fault: If it’s not clear who’s at fault or if both parties believe the other is at fault, they might decide it’s in their best interest to file an insurance claim and let the insurance companies determine responsibility.
  4. Injury Concerns: Even in minor accidents, if there’s any possibility of injury (either apparent immediately or potentially developing later), it’s often wise to report the incident to the insurance company. Injuries can lead to medical bills and potential liability, so having the incident documented can be important.
  5. Contractual Obligations: Some insurance policies might require policyholders to report any accident, no matter how minor. Not reporting could violate the terms of the policy, potentially causing issues later on if a claim is filed.
  6. Legal Obligations: Depending on local laws and regulations, there might be requirements to report certain accidents to the police, especially if injuries are involved or if the damage exceeds a specified amount.
  7. Future Disputes: If parties agree not to file a claim immediately after the accident, one of the parties might later change their mind, especially if they discover additional damage or experience health issues. If the incident was not reported initially, this can complicate matters.

Can I file a claim for a fender-bender if there were no witnesses?

insurance claim

Yes, you can file a claim for a fender-bender even if there were no witnesses. However, there are a few things to consider:

  1. Evidence: While witnesses can provide independent accounts of an accident, there are other ways to document the incident. Taking photos of the damage, the scene, and any relevant road signs or signals can be helpful. If there were any skid marks or debris from the accident, photographing these can also be beneficial.
  2. Police Report: Depending on where the accident occurred and the local regulations, you may be able to call the police to the scene to file a report. Even in minor accidents, a police report can provide an objective record of the incident and can be useful if you decide to file a claim.
  3. Potential Challenges: Without witnesses, determining fault can be more challenging, especially if the other party involved in the accident disputes your version of events. The insurance adjusters will rely on the evidence provided, the statements from both parties, the police report (if available), and their own expertise to determine fault.
  4. Consult Your Insurance Policy: Some insurance policies may have specific requirements or protocols for reporting and claiming accidents, so it’s essential to be familiar with your policy’s terms.
  5. Increased Premiums: Keep in mind that filing a claim, especially if you’re deemed at fault, could potentially result in increased insurance premiums in the future.
  6. Potential for Future Disputes: Even if the damage seems minor and both parties initially agree not to involve insurance, situations can change. One party might discover more extensive damage than initially thought or develop physical symptoms later on. Having the incident documented and reported can be beneficial if issues arise later.

While you can certainly file a claim without witnesses, it’s essential to gather as much evidence as possible to support your claim. If you’re unsure about the process or the potential implications of filing a claim, consulting with your insurance company or seeking legal advice can provide clarity.

About the Author: Valerie D. Hahn

Valerie is an insurance editor, journalist, and business professional at RateLab. She has more than 15 years of experience in personal financial products. She strives to educate readers and ensure that they are properly protected.

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