In Canada, the length of time an accident stays on your record can vary by province or territory. While traffic convictions and violations typically have a set duration they remain on your record, accidents may be treated differently, especially when considering insurance records.
Here’s a breakdown of how long accidents and traffic convictions typically stay on your driving record in various provinces and territories. Note that this refers to the driving record used by the government for licensing purposes. Insurance companies may use a different period when assessing your risk and determining premiums:
- British Columbia: Driving infractions, including accidents where you’re found at fault, remain on your record for 5 years. Insurance claims might be considered for premium calculations for up to 10 years.
- Alberta: Convictions stay on your driving record for 3 years from the date of conviction, while demerit points are removed after 2 years. Insurance companies usually look at the past 6-10 years for at-fault accidents.
- Saskatchewan: Driving convictions generally stay on your record for 5 years. For insurance purposes, at-fault accidents usually affect premiums for 6 years.
- Manitoba: Traffic convictions remain on your record for 5 years. At-fault accidents typically influence insurance rates for a similar duration.
- Ontario: Convictions can stay on your driving record for 3 years, and serious offenses can remain for even longer. Insurance companies might consider at-fault accidents when setting premiums for 6-10 years.
- Quebec: Demerit points related to a conviction remain on your record for 2 years following the end of the suspension period. Accidents might influence insurance premiums for a few years, often up to 6.
- New Brunswick: Convictions typically remain on your driving record for 5 years. At-fault accidents can be considered by insurance companies for up to 6-10 years.
- Prince Edward Island: Traffic convictions stay on your record for 5 years. Insurance implications for at-fault accidents might last up to 6 years.
- Nova Scotia: Traffic convictions remain on your driving record for 5 years. At-fault accidents are often considered by insurance companies for a similar period.
- Newfoundland and Labrador: Convictions stay on your record for 5 years. At-fault accidents usually impact insurance rates for 6-10 years.
- Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut: Information is less standardized for these territories, but generally, traffic convictions stay on records for around 5 years. At-fault accidents could influence insurance for 6-10 years.
While a traffic conviction might be removed from your driving record after a certain period, your insurance company might still consider it for rating purposes. It’s essential to differentiate between your driving record for licensing and the record insurance companies use. When in doubt, consult your insurer or the provincial/territorial motor vehicle department for the most accurate and up-to-date information.
How Car Accidents Can Affect Insurance Rates
In Canada, as in many other countries, a car accident can have a significant impact on your insurance rates. The degree to which an accident affects your rates can depend on several factors:
- At-Fault vs. Not At-Fault: Your insurance rates are more likely to increase if you’re deemed at fault for an accident. If you’re not at fault, your rates typically won’t go up as a result of that incident. However, each insurance company and province might have its own rules. Some provinces, like Ontario, have “no-fault” insurance, but this term can be misleading. It doesn’t mean that no one is at fault in an accident; rather, it means that each person deals with their own insurance company regardless of who is at fault.
- Severity of the Accident: Minor fender-benders might not impact your rates as much as a major collision, especially if there’s significant property damage or injuries.
- Your Driving History: If you have a clean driving record and this is your first accident, the effect on your rates might be less significant than if you’ve had multiple incidents in the past.
- Accident Forgiveness: Some insurance policies offer an “accident forgiveness” feature, which means your rates won’t increase after your first at-fault accident. This usually comes with certain conditions and might be offered as a benefit for long-time policyholders with a clean record.
- Frequency of Claims: Submitting multiple claims in a short time period, even if they’re not all your fault, can signal to insurers that you’re a higher risk and might result in increased rates.
- Location: Different provinces and territories in Canada have different regulations and market conditions. For example, in British Columbia, the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) is a public insurer, so rate adjustments might differ from those in provinces with private insurance markets.
- Discounts: If you have discounts applied to your policy, such as a claims-free discount, you might lose those discounts after an at-fault accident, which effectively raises your rates.
- Policy Deductibles: While not a direct effect on your premium, some drivers choose to increase their deductibles to reduce their premium after an at-fault accident. This means they’ll pay more out of pocket if another accident occurs.
- Policy Non-renewal or Cancellation: In extreme cases, if you have multiple at-fault accidents or serious convictions in a short time, an insurer might deem you too high a risk to insure and choose not to renew your policy.
Auto insurance rates in Canada can vary depending on several factors, including the driver’s location, age, driving record, and the make and model of their vehicle. Here are examples of what drivers in 10 major cities across Ontario, Alberta, and Quebec might pay for auto insurance per year and per month, based on their driving history and an example driver profile.
- 35-year-old driver
- Owns a 2018 Toyota RAV4
- Drives an average of 15,000 km per year
- Purchases a standard auto insurance policy with $1 million in liability coverage and a $1,000 deductible
- Toronto, with no accidents: $1,800 per year or $150 per month
- Toronto, with one at-fault accident in the past year: $3,200 per year or $267 per month
- Ottawa, with no accidents: $1,500 per year or $125 per month
- Ottawa, with one at-fault accident in the past year: $2,800 per year or $233 per month
- Mississauga, with no accidents: $1,700 per year or $142 per month
- Mississauga, with one at-fault accident in the past year: $3,100 per year or $258 per month
- Brampton, with no accidents: $1,900 per year or $158 per month
- Brampton, with one at-fault accident in the past year: $3,500 per year or $292 per month
- Hamilton, with no accidents: $1,400 per year or $117 per month
- Hamilton, with one at-fault accident in the past year: $2,700 per year or $225 per month
- Calgary, with no accidents: $1,200 per year or $100 per month
- Calgary, with one at-fault accident in the past year: $2,200 per year or $183 per month
- Edmonton, with no accidents: $1,100 per year or $92 per month
- Edmonton, with one at-fault accident in the past year: $2,000 per year or $167 per month
- Red Deer, with no accidents: $1,000 per year or $83 per month
- Red Deer, with one at-fault accident in the past year: $1,800 per year or $150 per month
- Lethbridge, with no accidents: $950 per year or $79 per month
- Lethbridge, with one at-fault accident in the past year: $1,700 per year or $142 per month
- Fort McMurray, with no accidents: $1,300 per year or $108 per month
- Fort McMurray, with one at-fault accident in the past year: $2,400 per year or $200 per month
- Montreal, with no accidents: $1,100 per year or $92 per month
- Montreal, with one at-fault accident in the past year: $2,000 per year or $167 per month
- Quebec City, with no accidents: $1,000 per year or $83 per month
- Quebec City, with one at-fault accident in the past year: $1,800 per year or $150 per month
- Laval, with no accidents: $1,100 per year or $92 per month
- Laval, with one at-fault accident in the past year: $2,000 per year or $167 per month
- Gatineau, with no accidents: $1,000 per year or $83 per month
- Gatineau, with one at-fault accident in the past year: $1,800 per year or $150 per month
- Longueuil, with no accidents: $1,100 per year or $92 per month
- Longueuil, with one at-fault accident in the past year: $2,000 per year or $167 per month
It’s important to note that these are just examples and that auto insurance rates can vary widely based on individual circumstances. Other factors that may impact rates include the driver’s age, gender, marital status, and credit score, as well as the level of coverage and deductible they choose. It’s always a good idea to shop around and compare rates from multiple insurance providers to find the best coverage and pricing for your individual needs.
How much will my insurance go up with an at-fault accident in Canada
The impact of an at-fault accident on your insurance premium in Canada varies by province, due to differences in regulations, market conditions, and other factors. Here’s a general overview, by province, of the potential rate increases you might expect after an at-fault accident:
- British Columbia (BC): BC’s primary insurer is the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC). The impact of an at-fault accident on your rates can vary, but you might see increases of 10% to 30% or more, especially if you lose your claim-free discount. Your “claim-rated scale” can move down, leading to higher premiums.
- Alberta: In Alberta, drivers might see a premium increase ranging from 10% to 50% after an at-fault accident, depending on the severity of the accident and other factors.
- Saskatchewan: The primary insurer in Saskatchewan is the Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI). After an at-fault accident, rate increases can vary, but a 10% to 25% hike is not uncommon.
- Manitoba: Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI) is the primary insurer. The Driver Safety Rating system determines rates. An at-fault accident can drop drivers several levels, leading to increases of 10% to 20% or more.
- Ontario: Ontario’s insurance market is competitive, and rate increases can vary significantly between providers. Generally, after an at-fault accident, drivers might see increases of 20% to 50%, but it can be even higher for new or young drivers.
- Quebec: In Quebec, the Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ) covers injury claims, while property damage is covered by private insurers. Rate increases after an at-fault accident can range from 10% to 40%.
- New Brunswick: Here, drivers might experience rate hikes from 15% to 50% after an at-fault accident, depending on their previous driving record and other factors.
- Prince Edward Island (PEI): After an at-fault accident in PEI, drivers can expect potential increases of 15% to 40%.
- Nova Scotia: Drivers in Nova Scotia might face rate hikes of 20% to 50% after an at-fault accident.
- Newfoundland and Labrador: Here, rate increases after an at-fault accident can be quite steep, often ranging from 20% to 60% or more, particularly if combined with other traffic convictions.
- Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut: These territories don’t have as much data available due to their smaller populations and fewer insurers, but rate increases of 10% to 40% are possible after an at-fault accident.
These are general estimates, and individual experiences can vary based on the specifics of the accident, the insurance company, the driver’s prior record, and other factors. If facing a significant rate increase, it’s beneficial to shop around or consult with an insurance broker to explore potential options.
Do Insurance Companies Check Your Driving Record for Accidents?
Yes, insurance companies typically check your driving record when you apply for a policy, renew an existing one, or when you’re seeking a quote. They do this for a few primary reasons:
- Assessing Risk: Your driving record provides insurers with a snapshot of your behavior behind the wheel. Accidents, especially those where you were at fault, can indicate a higher risk of future claims.
- Determining Premiums: Insurers use your driving record as one of the critical factors in setting your premium rates. Drivers with clean records are often eligible for lower rates, while those with accidents or traffic violations might face higher premiums.
- Eligibility for Coverage: Severe infractions or a combination of several minor ones might result in a driver being labeled “high risk.” This label can impact the driver’s ability to get insurance through standard carriers, potentially pushing them to seek coverage from insurers specializing in high-risk drivers, which typically come with higher premiums.
- Accuracy of Information: Checking your driving record allows insurers to verify the accuracy of the information you provided during the application process. If there’s a discrepancy between what’s on your record and what you’ve reported, insurers will want to address it.
- Discounts: Some insurance companies offer discounts for drivers with clean records over a specific period. Checking your driving record lets them determine your eligibility for such discounts.
In Canada, as in many countries, insurers can request your driving record from the provincial or territorial agency responsible for driver licensing. Always to provide accurate and truthful information when applying for insurance. Misrepresenting your driving history can lead to denied claims, higher premiums, or even policy cancellations.
How far back do insurance companies look at your driving record?
In Canada, the length of time insurance companies consider your driving history can vary by province, and also by individual insurance company policies. Here’s a general overview of how far back insurers typically look at your driving record, province by province:
- British Columbia: Insurance companies often look at the past 3 to 5 years of your driving record. However, serious convictions may be considered for a longer period.
- Alberta: Insurers typically consider the past 3 years of your driving history. However, some major infractions might be taken into account for longer.
- Saskatchewan: Insurance companies usually look back 5 years for driving infractions.
- Manitoba: Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI) maintains driving records for various durations depending on the infraction. Most insurers will review the last 3 to 5 years of your record.
- Ontario: Insurers typically consider the past 3 years for minor convictions and 6 years for major convictions.
- Quebec: Insurance companies generally look at the previous 3 years of your driving record.
- New Brunswick: The typical look-back period for insurance companies is 3 years.
- Prince Edward Island: Insurers usually review the past 3 years of your driving history.
- Nova Scotia: Insurance companies typically look back 3 to 5 years.
- Newfoundland and Labrador: The general look-back period is about 3 years.
- Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut: In these territories, insurance companies tend to look back 3 to 5 years, but specifics can vary based on the insurer.
Keep in mind, while insurers might use the above periods to assess your driving record for premium calculation, each infraction, accident, or conviction has its own duration for which it remains on your driving record, as governed by each province’s or territory’s regulations. Additionally, some insurance companies might have their own underwriting guidelines, which can differ from the general practices in the province.
Summary and FAQs
1. What’s the difference between an accident being on my driving record and my insurance record?
- Answer: Your driving record, maintained by your province or territory’s licensing agency, documents your driving history, including infractions, convictions, and sometimes accidents. Your insurance record pertains to claims you’ve made with insurance companies. An at-fault accident might appear on both records, while a not-at-fault accident might only appear on your insurance record.
2. How long does an at-fault accident stay on my driving record in Canada?
- Answer: The length of time varies by province, but typically, at-fault accidents remain on your driving record for about 6 to 10 years.
3. How long do insurance companies consider an at-fault accident when determining my premium?
- Answer: Most insurance companies look at accidents within the past 6 to 10 years to assess risk and determine premiums. However, this can vary by company and province.
4. Will a not-at-fault accident affect my insurance premium?
- Answer: Generally, a not-at-fault accident shouldn’t increase your premium. However, having multiple not-at-fault accidents in a short period could be viewed as increased risk by some insurers, potentially affecting rates.
5. If I move between provinces in Canada, will my new insurer see my accident history?
- Answer: Yes, typically they can. Insurance companies have access to national databases that record claims. Furthermore, they might request a letter of experience from your previous insurer, detailing your claims history.
6. Can I have an accident removed from my record?
- Answer: Generally, no. Accidents, whether at-fault or not, are part of your driving and insurance history. They will naturally drop off your record after a set number of years, depending on your province’s regulations.
7. Do all accidents impact insurance rates the same way?
- Answer: No. The impact on your insurance rates can depend on factors like the severity of the accident, damages, whether injuries were involved, and your overall driving history.
8. Can I avoid a rate increase after an at-fault accident?
- Answer: Some insurance policies offer “accident forgiveness” for the first at-fault accident, which means your rates may not go up after one incident. Eligibility and conditions vary by insurer.
9. How do traffic convictions affect my insurance compared to accidents?
- Answer: Both at-fault accidents and traffic convictions can lead to higher premiums. The severity of the infraction and the number of incidents on your record play a role in determining the impact on your insurance rates.
10. Should I report all accidents to my insurance company?
- Answer: Yes, it’s generally advisable to report all accidents to your insurer, even minor ones. Failure to report could lead to complications if damages or injuries surface later, or if the other party involved files a claim.
11. What if the damages from the accident are below my deductible? Should I still report it?
- Answer: Even if the damages are below your deductible, it’s still a good idea to report the accident to your insurance company. This ensures there’s a record of the incident, which can protect you if the other party involved later reports injuries or additional damages.
12. Will attending a driving school or course help reduce the impact of an accident on my record?
- Answer: While attending a driving school might not directly remove an accident from your record, it can potentially earn you a discount with some insurers. Furthermore, it may help offset points or convictions on your driving record in certain provinces.
13. If I was involved in an accident in another country, will it affect my insurance in Canada?
- Answer: It’s possible, especially if you reported the accident to your Canadian insurance company and made a claim. If you didn’t make a claim, it’s less likely, but you should always be honest if asked about past accidents by a new insurer.
14. Do all insurance companies in Canada treat accident histories the same way?
- Answer: No, individual insurance companies have their own underwriting guidelines and policies. While they might access the same data about your driving and claims history, how they interpret and weight that data can differ.
15. How can I check what’s on my driving record?
- Answer: You can request a copy of your driving record from the motor vehicle department of your province or territory. There might be a small fee associated with obtaining this document.
16. If I disagree with how an accident was recorded or how fault was determined, what can I do?
- Answer: If you disagree with the fault determination or details of an accident on your insurance record, you should first contact your insurance company to discuss the matter. If you remain unsatisfied, each province has an insurance ombudsman or regulatory body you can appeal to.
17. Are there insurance companies that specialize in covering drivers with accidents on their record?
- Answer: Yes, some insurance companies specialize in “high-risk” drivers, which includes those with multiple at-fault accidents or traffic convictions. While these insurers might offer coverage when others won’t, premiums are typically higher.
18. Will my rates ever go back to what they were before an at-fault accident?
- Answer: Over time, as the accident ages and eventually falls off your record, your rates could decrease, especially if you maintain a clean driving record going forward. Additionally, shopping around and comparing rates from different insurers can also help you find lower premiums.
19. Do minor accidents have the same impact as major ones?
- Answer: Not necessarily. Many insurers differentiate between minor and major at-fault accidents. A minor fender bender might have less impact on your premiums than a significant collision resulting in injuries.
20. Is it worth it to fight an at-fault determination in an accident?
- Answer: If you genuinely believe you were not at fault and have evidence to support your claim, it might be worth contesting the determination. Successfully doing so could prevent an increase in your insurance rates. However, it’s essential to consider the time, effort, and potential costs involved in challenging the decision.