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Canada is big. Real big. This is one reason why a car is seen by many people as essential to a happy life in the Great White North.

Whether you need to buy a car to drive from the suburbs into the city everyday for work, or whether you want to rent a car for occasional trips to the lake, accessing a car can help to elevate your quality of life. But! Before you get behind the wheel, it’s important to know what to do if you get into a car accident in Canada.

Driving in Canada means following some important regulations. Once you’re properly licensed and know the rules of the road, you have to prepare for the unexpected. Unfortunately, accidents happen every day. If you are involved in a collision, you must report it to your insurance company and usually to police. The rules vary from province to province, but no matter where you live, it’s smart to prepare to make the call, no matter the circumstance.

Police don’t attend every accident scene. As a result, drivers are not always required to call police after a collision.

However, there are several instances when you must call the police from the scene:

  • Vehicle damage meets or exceeds the regional threshold. For example, in Ontario the regional damage threshold is CAD $2,000. If damage exceeds this amount, the police must be called.
  • Individuals have suffered injury.
  • There are suspected Criminal Code violations, e.g. impaired driving.
  • The accident involves a government vehicle.
  • A vehicle is carrying dangerous goods.
  • The collision involves a pedestrian or cyclist.
  • If one of the drivers does not cooperate or leaves the scene.

At the time of an accident, you may not be sure whether you have to call the police. It may be difficult to estimate the amount of property damage, for example. To protect everyone, it’s a good idea to report even in the case of uncertainty. The authorities can handle it if necessary. To report the accident, call your local police or 911 from the scene of the accident.

If you do not have to report, you still must exchange information with the other drivers involved. That includes drivers’ license and insurance information. In Ontario, you must also visit a Collision Reporting Centre within 24 hours. At the Centre, you fill out a police report, even if it’s a collision that did not require on-site reporting.

When the winter comes around, so does the snow, and with it comes an increase in the number of car accidents. / Photo by Clément M.

Reporting to your insurer

In all cases, you have to report the collision to your insurance company. You should do so within 48 or 72 hours of the accident, but try to do so as soon as possible. The Insurance Bureau of Canada has a sample Accident Report Form you can carry with you, to make it easier to note down essential details. Those details include ownership and insurance details of everyone involved in the collision, as well as the names and contact info of witnesses.

In Canada, you are generally required to carry proof of insurance in your vehicle. The contact information for the company should appear on those documents.

Get to know your local regulations

Before you hit the road in Canada, it’s important to learn the reporting guidelines for your region. Quick reporting means quicker access to the insurance benefits you may need in the event of injury or vehicle damage.

About the author

Hugo O'Doherty profile picture

Hugo O'Doherty

Canadian Immigration & Integration Specialist
Hugo O’Doherty has over a decade of experience and research in Canadian immigration, establishing him as a recognized authority on immigrant integration and adaptation. His personal and professional experiences with immigration have made him an expert on the practical aspects of successfully moving to and settling in Canada.
Read more about Hugo O'Doherty
Citation "How to report a car accident in Canada: A newcomer’s guide." Moving2Canada. . Copy for Citation