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Vehicle collision: At fault? Not at fault?

Being in a car accident is stressful enough; there’s also the worry about who is at fault. Who decides where responsibility lies?

Man speaking on his cellphone with car collision in the background

Whether it’s a simple fender bender or a serious collision, insurers follow the same process to determine who’s at fault, regardless of how much damage there is to the vehicles involved.

Bodily injury: “no fault” applies

In the event of an accident, no-fault insurance applies only to compensation for bodily injury. Under this plan, all Quebeckers are covered by the Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec for bodily injury sustained as the result of an auto accident, whether or not they’re responsible.

Property and physical damage: your insurer considers your degree of responsibility

If no one has been hurt, there is no need for the police to come. And in any case, a police officer is not able to determine who is at fault. It is up to the insurers to determine whether or not their policyholder is responsible. To assess each driver’s degree of responsibility, your insurer will use the Direct Compensation Agreement (DCA), which illustrates the most common accident scenarios (based on the Highway Safety Code).

The DCA document illustrates all possible accident scenarios (based on the Highway Safety Code) and the percentages of fault. For example:

  • The driver ahead of you suddenly slams on their brakes, causing you to rear-end them. According to the DCA, you are 100% at fault; the Highway Safety Code stipulates that each driver must keep a safe distance between them and the vehicle ahead.
  • You and another driver back into one another in a mall parking lot, resulting in damage to both vehicles. In this case, you are both equally at fault.

The degree of each driver’s responsibility is determined based on the DCA criteria. Each driver will be covered by their own insurer for damage to their vehicle, based on their responsibility and the coverages they purchased.

2 cars colliding

At fault or not at fault: impact on compensation

Let’s take a look at how you would be compensated for damage to your vehicle. If your insurer determines that:

  • You are not at fault: even if your policy doesn’t include collision coverage, your insurance will pay for the damage to your vehicle through the liability section of your policy (Section A). You will not have to pay a deductible.
  • You are at fault: your insurance will pay for the damage if your policy includes Collision or All Perils coverage (Section B of the policy), and you will have to pay the deductible amount. If you only have Section A (Liability coverage), you will have to pay for the cost of repairs.

Ask your insurance broker

To find out more about this subject, or if you have any questions about your auto insurance, call your broker—your best source for information and advice.

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