Our roadways are populated by relentless, streaming herds of four-wheeled beasts, each one tipping the scales at well over 1 ton, composed of glass, steel, rubber, and plastic, and capable of reaching speeds that can take you from Watrous to Winnipeg in an afternoon.
Suffice it to say, there are bound to be a few fender benders out there from time to time.
First off, we can assume that the cause of your latest collision ISN’T from lack of attention trying to calm the kiddos down in the back seat, right?
Good. Well…not exactly. You still have a damaged vehicle to cope with. Luckily, the worst is over. We’ve compiled a simple, step-by-step guide to getting your banged-up vehicle back to showroom condition using the process recommended by SGI (Saskatchewan Government Insurance) and MPI (Manitoba Public Insurance).
Let’s start at the start
Before we have you rush to the body shop dragging your sorry taillights behind you, let’s return to the scene of the crime (kidding!) and make sure that you didn’t miss any details.
What to do after you get in an accident
- Is everyone involved okay? If yes (no serious injuries) and the vehicles are driveable, park to the side of the road away from oncoming traffic. If no, stay seated and wait for help to arrive. Be sure to turn on your hazard lights, too.
- Exchange information with the other driver(s), including name, address, phone, insurance policy number, license plate digits, and driver’s license number.
- It’s a smart idea to print off a copy of your province’s applicable Collision Report form and keep it in your glove box to note down all the information from the incident:
- You MUST report your collision to police if any of the following occur:
- There is an injury or death
- It is a hit and run
- A driver is impaired/intoxicated
- One of the vehicles needs to be towed away
- The collision involves a vehicle with an invalid license plate or is registered from out of province
- If none of the above applies to you, you only need to report your collision to your insurance outfit.
To involve insurance or not?
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Institute, approximately 10 million or more crashes go unreported to insurance companies every year. Motorists often avoid involving their insurance company because they fear their premiums will go through the roof. Is this wise?
In the vast majority of accidents—no. Though it may seem reasonable to make a private arrangement with the other driver, keep in mind that vehicle damage is often far more severe (read: expensive) than it appears, and long-term, soft-tissue damage typically doesn’t manifest until a day or two after the fact. If you don’t report the incident in a timely manner, you’re leaving yourself open to limited protection from costly litigation, too. Lawyer up, my friend!
The Insurance Institute for Highway Institute for Highway Safety crunched the numbers to give you an idea of the wallet-swallowing costs you could be on the hook for if you don’t get it covered by insurance:
- For example, a 2010 Toyota Corolla in a staged 16 km/h rear-end collision appeared to result in very little visible damage. But upon professional inspection, repairs amounted to $3,800. The same test was performed on a RAV4. The (not-so-visible) damage? $6,000.
Since a typical collision deductible is only $500, it’s far more cost effective to be honest with your insurance company and let them know about your latest smash-up. Also, if you happen to have a long, hitherto unblemished driving record, many insurance plans have accident forgiveness policies for your first collision.
Stake your claim
If you live in Saskatchewan, you can use one of the two options:
- The Auto eClaim collision registration service online
- Call the Dial-A-Claim centre service nearest to you
And if Manitoba is home for you, you can call to report your accident through one of the following numbers:
- Within Winnipeg: 204-985–7000
- Outside of Winnipeg (toll-free): 1-800-665-2410
- Out-of-province (toll-free): 1-800-661-6051
NOTE 1: Once your claim has been filed, an SGI or MPI representative will contact you to let you know the appointment date and time at your nearest damage appraiser.
NOTE 2: Do not get any repairs done to your car until the insurance company has signed off on it.
Get a quote
It’s time to find out what you and your insurance company will have to pay to get your car back to how you remember it. Drive (or tow) your car to the designated appraisal centre for an assessment. They will print out a sheet outlining the repairs required and how much it should cost. Next, you can bring you car to the auto body shop of your choice for collision repairs.
Alternatively, if you’re set on getting your vehicle fixed up at Bennett Dunlop Auto Body in Regina or River City Auto Body in Winnipeg, good thinking! You can drop your car off with us and we will transport it to and from the provincial insurance appraisal centre for you at no charge.
Get it repaired good as new
You’re on the home stretch! Once your vehicle is safely in the hands of the collision repair pros, they’ll communicate with your insurance outfit to confirm coverage and payment.
When your vehicle is ready for pick up (and your brief but amusing dalliance with the rental car has come to its inevitable conclusion), the body shop will ask you to sign a Certification of Repairs form. This form indicates that the repairs have been completed to your satisfaction and that SGI or MPI is now authorized to pay the body shop for their work.
Getting in an accident, at the very least, is a very jarring experience. But it becomes much less so when you have a plan in place. Thankfully you’re not afraid of a little lifelong learning!
Let’s continue the summer studies, shall we? Set a reminder for next Monday morning, where we’ll show you three handy automotive skills you can master this summer.
What are your thoughts?
- Have you ever made a handshake deal instead of going though insurance? How’d that turn out?
- Do you think public auto insurance is a better system than the private for-profit style, like in Alberta?
- Do you have any more tips to ensuring a smooth collision repair process?