Since damage in this type of car accident is often negligible, many drivers fail to report them, opting instead to a private settlement. This allows both drivers to preserve their driving record, avoid raising their insurance premiums and to get on with their day.
But, whether bumped in a mall parking lot or tapped in a traffic jam, even the smallest accidents can become huge headaches further down the road if not handled correctly. Use this guide to fender benders to help avoid a chip in your car becoming a chip in your shoulder the next time you find yourself roadside post-accident.
Appearances can be deceiving
While you might just have a scratch on your bumper, sometimes the worst damage is not always immediately noticeable. Make careful note of the condition of your car following a minor collision:
- Does the engine sound alright when it runs?
- Is there any fluid pooling under your car?
- Is there any smoke or putrid smell?
- Are any of your car’s tires losing their inflation?
- Running your hands across the area of impact, are there any imperfections or dents?
- Where were you hit? Is your car’s engine or any of your car’s peripheral devices located near the point of impact?
- Are you hurt?
Assess the damage
In Ontario all car accidents with damage exceeding $1, 000, or those involving injuries, must to reported to police. If the fender bender occurs on private property, the accident only needs to be reported to the police if there are injuries or property damage. In all cases, it is the responsibility of both drivers to report the accident to their respective insurance companies.
The driver’s dilemma
Although both drivers may be rational human beings, they may not cooperate even if it is to their mutual benefit. While a private settlement may be reached, there is still the possibility one of the drivers may report the fender bender to police or to their insurance company after the fact. For the other driver, this means risking losing insurance coverage, losing the benefit of physical evidence and further consequences ranging from fines to imprisonment.
To ensure proper protection, always report an accident to your insurer or, depending on the damage, to the police. Even if there is a slight uptick to your premium, it is better to be safe than sorry.
Go for a check-up
While taking your car to a mechanic immediately following any accident is a good idea, you might also consider visiting your doctor for a checkup. Though minor in terms of damage, even fender benders can be intense experiences. With an elevated pulse and a boost of adrenaline flooding your veins, you might not notice your neck is cricked or your wrist is sore.
Your Fender Bender Checklist:
- Call 911 if:
- a) someone is hurt;
- b) damage exceeds $1, 000;
- c) consensus on fault requires a neutral mediator
- Exchange insurance information, contact information and take pictures of the scene
- File a police report
- Stay calm and do not rush the process