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Ontario drivers won’t have to report minor collisions under $2,000 in damage

Afternoon traffic on highway 401 East and West bound in Toronto on June 23, 2014.
Afternoon traffic on highway 401 East and West bound in Toronto on June 23, 2014. Getty Images File

TORONTO — New Ontario road rules coming into effect Tuesday Sept. 1, will double the threshold for reporting vehicle damage in collisions to $2,000.

Under the new rules, if a collision is estimated to cost a total of $2,000 or more in total damage, drivers must report it to police or a collision reporting centre. Anything less than $2,000 does not require police involvement.

The previous minimum for reporting damage was $1,000, which has been unchanged since 1998 when it was raised from $700.

READ MORE: New Ontario road rules come into effect this fall

If the collision injures someone or damages property other than the vehicles involved, it must be reported regardless of the cost of the damage.

The Ministry of Transportation said in a statement that the increase would enhance collision data integrity, align Ontario with other provinces that have made similar changes and address concerns that the former threshold posed an excessive burden on commercial vehicle drivers’ safety records — such as taxi or limousine drivers.

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“It’s important for us to be actively reviewing, updating and modernizing our laws so that we are keeping pace with what’s in the marketplace,” Minister of Transportation Stephen del Duca said in a statement.

“These changes bring Ontario in line with other similar Canadian jurisdictions.”

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The ministry said that while the change may result in a minor “burden reduction” for police by decreasing the number of crashes they investigate, it encourages all drivers to contact police in the event of a collision for advice on next steps and whether an investigation is needed.

But police said that as long as non-serious collisions are reported to insurance companies, drivers should be covered.

“We do have unfortunately a large insurance fraud issue in Ontario now, and in fact across Canada, which occurs quite regularly,” said Toronto Police Const. Clint Stibbe.

“These are checks in balances that are put in place in order to help keep the claims where they should be and that way there’s no frivolous claims being filed with police or insurance companies.”

Stibbe said that when the original damage threshold was set in 1998 it took a fairly substantial collision to add up to $1,000, but in recent years with changes in the way vehicles are designed even a small dent can add up quickly.

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“By increasing the amount, it makes it less likely to have to report a collision unless there is substantial damage to a vehicle,” he said, adding that issues can arise when collisions aren’t reported to insurance companies.

“Reporting it keeps you as a consumer safe, because you don’t want to get into a situation where you try and make a deal on the side with somebody so it isn’t reported to insurance, but what ends up happening is that person isn’t as forthcoming or up front with you and in some cases maybe doesn’t reimburse you for the damage.”

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Stibbe said it’s best for drivers to report all damage to their insurance company, in order to ensure the vehicle is repaired properly and to avoid any potential civil issues between two drivers.

The changes coincide with a number of new road rules coming into effect Sept. 1, including increased fines for distracted driving, a requirement to maintain a one-metre distance when passing cyclists and the inclusion of tow trucks in the Slow Down, Move Over law.