Although significant improvements for traffic safety have been made over the last ten years, there are still many car accidents in Alberta each year. When you are a driver involved in an auto accident, you have certain obligations you are required to meet as part of being a party to an accident, including informing your insurance company through your insurance broker in Edmonton.
If you or your passenger is injured, then medical treatment should be immediately obtained and attendance at the nearest hospital by ambulance should be sought as needed. You must also contact the police and your insurance broker, agent, or your insurance company to report the accident. If there is no serious injury and the combined damage to the vehicles is over $2,000, then you must visit a police station and file a Collision Report Form. Reporting to the insurance broker is required even if you do not have any loss and regardless of whether you were the at-fault driver or not.
After reporting, an insurance adjuster will be assigned and your claim eligibility will be determined. If you are hurt, you will also need to complete insurance forms to make a claim for Section B accident benefits. If your vehicle is damaged, you will need to have it repaired and you may be responsible to pay certain deductibles. The insurance adjuster may conduct an investigation (which is independent of the police) and then determine fault for the accident. The two insurance companies will settle costs based on fault and the at-fault driver can expect to see higher insurance premiums as a result. Contact with the Insurance Broker, Agent or Insurance Company regarding the claim process is outlined in more detail below.
Reporting to the Insurance Broker, Agent or Insurance Company
Your car insurance broker in Edmonton will ask you to provide basic information about the accident that will be forwarded to the insurer. This information includes the names, addresses and phone numbers of any witnesses to the accident. It is possible that you may need to get their statements later, or that your insurer may need to speak to them.
Details of the accident must also be provided, including any injuries, property damage, and damage to the cars involved. It will be in your best interest to be as forthcoming as possible, as misleading your insurer or withholding information can lead to serious consequences for your claim. If your claim is valid, then your insurance company must settle it as per the terms of your policy.
Just as you have reported the accident to your broker or to your insurer, so too will the other parties involved in the accident, to their respective insurers. In many cases, it is likely that an adjuster or some other insurance representative will attempt to contact you on behalf of the other drivers. Their primary objective is to settle the claim as quickly and as cheaply as possible, and generally not in your favour. Be aware of your rights in this situation, as you are not legally required to provide them with any information, or aid them in their claim.
Determining Your Claim Eligibility
It is important that you are aware of the details of your policy and to know the limits of your coverage. The minimum statutory third party liability that must be covered by your insurer is for up to $200,000 (including bodily injury, death and property damage) and the minimum statutory property damage coverage for the third party is capped at $10,000. A minimum of $1 million third party liability coverage is recommended for your auto insurance and it will be provided if it was opted for.
If you or your passengers are injured, Section B accident benefits may cover a portion of the financial losses sustained as result. These benefits include: medical and rehabilitation expenses up to $50,000 per person within a two year limitation period and disability income if you are unable to work, for 80 percent of your gross weekly wages to a maximum of $400 per week up to a total maximum of 104 weeks. There are also funeral and grief counselling expenses and death benefits available and a right to sue for economic loss in excess of the no-fault benefits. Again, Albertans can buy more coverage to suit their needs.
While minimum third party liability and accident benefits are part of the mandatory coverage of any Alberta auto insurer, you may have selected certain additional optional coverage such as loss of use coverage for a rental vehicle while your vehicle is being repaired due to a covered loss in the insurance policy. Your insurer will adjust your claim, and determine whether your accident falls within the coverage you have opted for. Your insurer will also conduct their own investigation to conclude that you haven’t negated your policy in any way (due to driving without a licence or drunk driving, for example).
It is at this stage that the advantage of working with a licensed auto insurance broker in Edmonton becomes the most evident; the insurance broker can streamline the claim process to ensure that you are filing the claim properly and providing all the relevant information. Your insurance broker can also clarify if you are uncertain about what is and isn’t covered by your policy and if there are any steps in the claim process you are unsure of.
Your insurer may conduct an investigation into the accident in order to apportion fault to you or to any other drivers involved. If the insurer deems that you are not at fault following the accident, usually they will pay your damages, and then subrogate the claim. This means that they will go after the “at-fault driver” and their insurance company to recoup the damages.
It is important to note that insurance companies are the ones who determine fault for insurance purposes, not the police. Even if you are charged with an offence, this does not mean that you will automatically be found at fault for insurance purposes. It is also true that if the police decide not to file charges after your accident, you will not necessarily be found fault-free. The discretion of the police is whether to lay charges, but not whether either driver was at-fault.
In determining fault, insurers have not codified fault regulations within their provincial insurance acts and therefore do not follow provincial Fault Determination Rules as many other provinces do. Alberta insurers have instead opted to follow national standards codified by the Insurance Bureau of Canada; Agreement Respecting Standardization of Claim Forms and Practices, and Guidelines for the Settlement of Claims.
Speak to a Licensed Insurance Broker Today
If you are an Alberta car owner seeking coverage, consider consulting a licensed auto insurance broker in Edmonton before purchasing your next auto insurance policy term. At MBS Insurance Brokers Ltd., we have in-depth market knowledge about car insurance in Edmonton. We regularly deal with various types of insurance products from firms offering auto insurance and can help you determine what type of car insurance policy is best suited to your needs. Our insurance brokers in Edmonton can offer some of the most competitive car insurance rates in the industry.
Further, if you are involved in an accident, we are able to respond quickly to help you determine what your Edmonton auto insurance claim involves. We pride ourselves on a high quality of customer service and are available to speak with you at any time to tailor a quote to your needs. Contact MBS Insurance Brokers Ltd. at 780-436-7880 or online to speak with a car insurance broker today.