Q&A - Reporting Minor Collision Damage

Q&A ImageWhen driving the Coquihalla highway this past Friday the 18th, I was rear ended by a small car. There was minor collision damage, two small paint scuffs from his license plate holder and there was no damage to his car.

I know by law I am required to report all accidents, but in this case it really doesn't seem like it has any purpose.

I don't feel it's necessary to have the other drivers insurance premiums increase, when there was no damage done, and everybody makes mistakes!

image of a car showing minor collision damage

However, I did have a few passengers with me that I do not know that well. I feel like if I don't report the accident, they might talk to me in a month and complain about neck pain, and all of a sudden I'm the one that is in an unfortunate situation.

Do you think it's worth it for me to file a claim?

Reporting a Minor Collision to Police

There is currently no requirement in law to notify the police of a collision in BC.

Reporting a Minor Collision to ICBC

Reporting to ICBC is a more complicated situation. The best advice that I can give in my limited experience is that you should report any minor collision to ICBC.

If you do not, after a period of time ICBC can decide to deny coverage.

After reporting, you could decide to get together with the other parties involved and pay for damage that you have caused out of your own pocket. You do not have to lose your ICBC Roadstar status or suffer a premium increase.

If it is to your advantage to use your insurance coverage, you will still have it.

Preventing False Hit & Run Claims

Other good reasons to report crashes to your insurer include making sure that your side of the story is recorded and preventing the other party from reporting it as a hit & run.

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It can sometimes be difficult to ascertain damage - and this could be hidden damage, such as within a bumper if the cover has sprung back into shape, or even possible physical injury; symptoms of whiplash may not be apparent until sometime after the crash.  So by reporting it as soon as possible after the collision places you in a favourable position.

When you contact ICBC Dial-a-Claim, expect your conversation to be recorded.  In all likelihood you will be asked about amount of damage (which you don't really know, but just having a bodyshop pull a bumper off a vehicle, and properly repaint and resinstall it, can run into hundreds of dollars quite easily) - and that's without consideration of bodily injury (that may not be at all obvious, just because you and your passengers 'feel fine') so you really don't know that either.

One thing that's often forgotten, even when drivers exchange Driver License and Vehicle Registration details, is phone numbers; it's always smart to obtain, and provide, any and all useful contact numbers as it can save the ICBC Claims Adjustor a bunch of work trying to contact the 'other guy', particularly if they have not reported.

If you're certain that you're the victim - seems pretty likely when you've been hit from behind - it makes little sense to settle with the other parties involved; much better to have your vehicle properly repaired by an ICBC Certified Body Shop,  So as long as you're held 25% or less responsible for the collision, it will cost you nothing to do this.  If the other party wants to settle privately, do you think they will choose the best collision repairer they can find - or the cheapest?  Going through ICBC, once it's all done and dusted they will typically have about three weeks to reimburse ICBC for all costs, and thus avoid any consequent increase in their premiums.

I once had a someone run into my parked vehicle.  I had a trailer hitch on the back, and they drove into it while parking their own vehicle.  Because of the hitch, there was literally zero damage to my vehicle.  The other vehicle had a small dent in the front bumper.

Because there was no damage to my vehicle, and I wasn't even in my vehicle at the time, I did not take the time to report it to ICBC.  The other driver, however, did -- and claimed that I had backed into his parked car.  Because I had not reported it, ICBC accepted the other driver's story and I was held 100% at fault.

ALWAYS report.

We were at a car wash, and had just pulled out into the lane way, when this woman reversed out of her parking spot aggressively, and kept going straight into the front of our car. We hooted but she kept going. Very little damage to our car but her rental that she had just received had a dent in the back. She refused to tell the rental company or report it to ICBC and told us we don't need to report it either. 

We reported it to both rental company and ICBC.