My recent column about collision repairs generated some responses from readers.
A reader from Peterborough wrote: “You stated that you must attend an accident-reporting centre if the damage exceeds $2,000. However, a police officer at a reporting centre in Mississauga told us that the $2,000 had to be for parts only and does not include labour.
“It is difficult enough to determine $2,000, never mind assessing parts value. One officer suggested we go to a body shop and get a quote and, if the parts exceed $2,000, come back and file a report. This somehow does not seem right. In the same vein, if the damage is less than $2,000, how does one assess fault to avoid paying your own deductible if there is no accident report?”
For further clarification on this topic, I spoke with representatives at three separate collision reporting centres in Ontario.
When an auto collision occurs, on a public road or private property, the damage is rarely under $2,000. One of the reporting centre reps told me that in the past two years, he has seen only one instance where the estimated damage was less than $2,000.
One of the reasons that most estimates exceed $2,000 is because of the cost of materials and labour. For instance, the cost of a replacement bumper on an average passenger vehicle alone ranges between $800 and $1,300, and that’s not including labour.
The other reason is that the $2,000 threshold includes the total cost of materials (parts) and labour for “all” vehicles involved in a collision.
According to the collision reporting centres, motorists are required to file a police accident report for all collisions, regardless of the estimated damage.
The services offered at the collision reporting centres are at no charge to the consumer. They will help drivers complete and file the report, document any damage, contact the insurers and provide assistance with the next steps.
A collision reporting centre provides a visual assessment of the damages to a vehicle, which includes areas of impact, affected areas, and estimated costs for repair. These estimates do not cover mechanical damage.
If someone wants to have their vehicle towed to a collision-repair facility or a dealership to get an estimate, that is fine. It is the car owner’s choice where their vehicle is taken. However, the collision should still be reported to the police.
The other important action drivers must take after a collision is to notify their insurance companies.
Some readers wanted to know if it is OK to pay for repairs out of pocket (if the repairs are not too expensive), in order to avoid making a claim on their insurance. Some consumers think that by avoiding a claim, their insurance premiums will not increase.
All of the Collision Reporting Centres that I spoke to said that anyone involved in a collision must report it to their insurance company. The insurance company will find out anyway once a report is made to the police.
By contacting your insurance company, you are able to record your side of the story, which may conflict with someone else’s story.
Either way, your insurance company will know about the collision once a police report is filed. If you are involved with an at-fault claim, just involving your car and a parking garage door, an insurance company could use that as justification to raise your premiums, regardless of whether a claim was made.
Get more opinion in your inbox
Get the latest from your favourite Star columnists with our Opinion newsletter.
However, in Ontario, an insurance company cannot raise premiums when damages are lower than $2,000 and if an at-fault driver pays for his/her repairs.
For a directory of reporting centres in Ontario, visit collision-reporting-centre.com.