Parking lots are bustling hubs of activity. With vehicles weaving past and pedestrians on the move, parking lots can get really busy. Given all these elements, it’s understandable why accidents are somewhat frequent. In fact, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, parking lots account for 14% of all car collisions that lead to damage. That’s a significant number! The surprising part is that most of these accidents could have been prevented with a bit more caution.

Now, it’s worth noting that while many parking lot mishaps are minor, with just a little bump or scrape, they shouldn’t be dismissed lightly. Even at low speeds, these incidents can lead to significant vehicle damage or even injuries. These accidents might also cause a spike in your car insurance rates. Sadly, this concern can sometimes lead people not to report the incident. As a result, hit and runs in parking lots are all too common.

While parking lots might appear relatively safe, it’s best to stay attentive and vigilant. In the unfortunate event that you do get involved in a parking lot accident, here are specific steps you should follow.

What Should You Do If You’re Involved in a Parking Lot Accident in Ontario?

Safety First

Check if everyone involved is okay. Always ensure that everyone is safe before assessing the damage or exchanging details. If someone is injured, don’t hesitate to call emergency services immediately.

Move Your Vehicle

If possible, move your vehicle to a safer location, like a parking space or the lot’s perimeter.
Use your hazard lights when moving your vehicle post-accident to signal to other drivers that you’re maneuvering due to an incident.

Approach Calmly

Calmly approach the other party. Understandably, anyone will be shaken after an accident. Avoid discussing the details of the accident or assigning blame; focus on well-being first.

Exchange Details

Get the other party’s name, contact details, licence number, insurance information, and vehicle description. Use your smartphone to take pictures of the licences, insurance cards, and damages.

Reporting the Accident to Authorities

In Ontario, if you estimate the damage to be more than $2,000, it’s important to call the police and file an accident report. Consider taking your car to a body shop for a quick assessment if you’re unsure about the extent of damage. Depending on the severity, you might need to take your vehicle to the nearest collision reporting centre. The centre will document the accident’s details, creating an official record. This can be invaluable for auto insurance claims and potential legal matters. Many insurance companies require an official report from a collision reporting centre or police to process claims.

Document Everything

Take clear photos of the accident scene, damages to all vehicles, and any visible injuries. If there are witnesses, get their contact information. They can provide an unbiased account if needed. A time-stamped photo or note can help clarify the accident’s time and date.

Inform Your Insurance Company or Broker

Regardless of whether you decide to settle minor damages out of pocket, you must notify your insurance provider about the incident. It’s their job to be in the loop and help you navigate the situation. Don’t forget to review your policy. Know what’s covered and what your obligations are. Honesty is the best policy. Ensure you provide accurate information to prevent complications later. Your broker can provide invaluable information in regard to your claim.

Avoid Cash Deals

While settling minor damages with cash might be tempting, always go through the official channels, ensuring everything is documented. For instance, injuries from accidents, like whiplash, might not manifest immediately. If you settle with cash, the other party might come back later with medical bills, arguing that the injury resulted from the accident. If you decide to claim the accident on your insurance later on, they might reject it due to a lack of proper documentation or not being reported in a timely fashion.

How Will a Parking Lot Accident Affect Your Insurance

Being involved in a car accident can be deeply distressing. One of the first thoughts that may cross your mind is, “Was it my fault?” This is often accompanied by worries about potential insurance repercussions. In Ontario, the “at-fault” designation is used to pinpoint the driver chiefly accountable for the mishap. To determine this, insurance companies utilize the Fault Determination Rules—a standardized set of over 40 potential accident scenarios.

The Financial Services Commission of Ontario mandates that insurance providers conduct an investigation aligned with these rules upon receiving an accident report. In cases where the accident doesn’t fit neatly within these scenarios, traditional negligence laws apply.

As for the impact on your insurance premium, if you’re found to be at-fault, you may see an increase. However, your rates will remain unchanged if you’re deemed to be not at fault at all. It’s also crucial to note the significant legal and financial implications of driving without insurance in Ontario.

In any event, it’s imperative to report the incident, liaise with your insurance representative, and ensure all necessary documentation is completed. It’s about safeguarding your interests and ensuring proper procedures are followed.

What Does a No-Fault Insurance System Mean for You?

Despite the name, the “no-fault” insurance system doesn’t ignore who caused an accident. Instead, it streamlines the claims process. Under this system, each driver’s insurance handles their own damages and medical costs, regardless of who’s at fault. This approach, adopted by six Canadian provinces, including Ontario, aims for quicker compensation without lengthy fault-based legal disputes. So, in Ontario, while the “at-fault” designation identifies the responsible driver, claims are processed under the no-fault system.

Dense urban areas pose unique challenges for drivers. The frequency of interactions, from merging onto busy roads to navigating crowded parking lots, amplifies the risk of potential mishaps. Therefore, it’s crucial for drivers to stay alert and proactive. After all, a bit of extra care can make our roads safer and driving less stressful for everyone.

Keller & Associates Insurance Brokers offers tailored car insurance to cover your specific needs. We account for your vehicle type, driving habits, frequent routes, and even personal preferences in coverages. Whether you need Personal Automobile Insurance for daily commuting, Commercial Automobile Insurance for work-related travels, or classic Car Insurance, Keller & Associates Insurance Brokers has a solution for you. With over 35 years of experience, our brokers know the ins and outs of the insurance landscape in Ontario. Contact us to schedule a consultation.