Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

Two fender-benders, triple the pain

Dear Lee,

I have never been involved in a serious accident in 25 years and I cannot even remember the last time I was ticketed for a moving violation. Unfortunately I have had a streak of bad luck in the last five years, being involved in two fender-benders where I was technically at fault; and because of this, my premiums have skyrocketed to the point where I need new insurance; as luck will have it, the Ontario Board of Certified Management Accountants (which I joined recently) offers group premiums.

My only concern is: what about these two fender-benders? I mean, I can explain them: for the first one, I was in fact targeted in a road-rage incident where another driver willfully cut in front of me and slammed the brakes, making it almost impossible to stop before I hit his back bumper; apparently, I had inadvertently inconvenienced him as I was changing lanes a couple of traffic lights earlier. The second one was even more unavoidable. An 18-wheeler literally pushed me out of my lane as it was changing lanes, so I basically had a choice between wedging my car under his trailer or quickly changing lanes myself; I chose the second option, but clipped the front bumper of another van in this risky manoeuvre.

Story continues below advertisement

Do you think I might be able to negotiate a more reasonable premium (mine has tripled!) with these explanations? I honestly don't think I am such a bad risk - especially when I see the way some people drive.

***** ***** *****

Trying to talk an insurance company into ignoring two accidents is like trying to talk Tiger's wife into ignoring his sex addiction. It ain't gonna happen.

However, the time to try is when the insurance company is settling your claim, not when they're tripling your premium. Perhaps with your first accident, if the police charged the other driver with dangerous driving you may have had a reasonable chance fighting the "fault" designation applied to your record.

Most drivers don't realize how critical it is to work closely with the insurance company representative when they're deciding an "at-fault", "partially at-fault" or "not at-fault" ruling.

Only if you're found to be not at-fault will it not affect your insurance standing. If you don't agree with the ruling, escalate to the insurance company's ombudsman.

It's also time to ask if the accident will initiate a cancellation. Every insurance company has their own cancellation rules. Some may be for two accidents; some for a combination of tickets and accidents. If you know your insurance company is going to cancel your policy, this will give you plenty of time to look for another provider. It also reduces the shock value of getting a notice of cancellation in the mail.

Story continues below advertisement

In regard to your first accident, it's the position of insurance companies that you are to drive at a safe distance behind the vehicle in front of you. This was clearly demonstrated when you encountered Mr. Angry slamming on this brakes. Luckily there wasn't a Mr. Surprised following closely behind you. With your second accident, I'm assuming no one else saw the 18-wheeler cut you off, you weren't able to get his licence plate number, and he wasn't caught and charged by the police for careless driving.

From my experience, you need a little more than your word when negotiating fault with an insurance company. All your insurance company really had to work with is that you changed lanes and clipped another vehicle. I don't see a lot of wiggle room here, especially if you're trying to talk another insurance company into forgiving a spotty record.

Lucky, insurance companies' rates are thousands of dollars apart when quoting for multiple accidents. Triple, even quadruple the difference in rates, in fact.

Go to Google, type in "insurance rate comparison Canada" in the search bar, and check out the rate differences being offered through some of these free rate guide companies.

Even though you have the option of getting a group premium rate, it may not be necessarily the lowest out there. Once you find which insurance company has the best rate, you may wish to adjust your deductibles or coverage to get your rate down to the lowest it can be.

An at-fault or partially-fault ruling will affect your insurance rate for six years, so compare rates every year and go with the best rated provider, even if that means changing companies again and again.

Story continues below advertisement

Have an auto insurance-related question? E-mail Lee at GlobeDrive@globeandmail.com

Report an error Licensing Options
Comments

The Globe invites you to share your views. Please stay on topic and be respectful to everyone. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

We’ve made some technical updates to our commenting software. If you are experiencing any issues posting comments, simply log out and log back in.

Discussion loading… ✨