Do All Car Accidents Need to Be Reported to ICBC?

You are required to report all accidents to your auto insurer, period. Regardless of the amount of damage incurred or if you agree to settle the claim out of pocket, you must still report the accident to ICBC. 

Many drivers believe that if the at-fault party pays for the costs of the repairs then it does not need to be reported, which is untrue. To guarantee proper coverage from ICBC in the event of an accident, you should report all motor vehicle accidents to ICBC.

Before reporting the accident to ICBC, you should ensure all injured persons receive adequate medical care, the accident scene is cleared and the accident has been reported to the police. You will also need to collect basic accident information for reporting purposes. If it is convenient and safe, you will want to take photographs of the damage to the vehicles, your injuries (if any), and the scene of the motor vehicle accident.

How to Report a Motor Vehicle Accident

To ensure complete coverage you must report the collision to ICBC in a timely manner. When reporting the collision make sure you obtain the following key information:

  • Driver’s name, licence number, province/state and contact info
  • Licence plate and year, make and model of vehicle 
  • Insurance details if the vehicle isn’t from British Columbia
  • The date, time and location
  • The weather and road conditions
  • The direction each vehicle was travelling
  • Where your vehicle was and what lane you were using
  • Where the other vehicle was
For most collisions in Vancouver and elsewhere in British Columbia you can report the accident online using ICBC’s website. For certain types of accidents, you must report the collision by telephone - these include hit and run accidents or a collision that occurs outside of British Columbia.

Why Report a Car Accident to ICBC?

It is a requirement in your auto insurance policy that you report all car accidents to ICBC. However, there are also common sense reasons why reporting a car accident is important to ensure you are protected personally and financially.

Even minor accidents can cause significant injuries to drivers, passengers or pedestrians. Minor rear-end accidents can cause significant whiplash injuries or even concussions. By not reporting the accident, you risk your coverage for any injuries and expose yourself to liability if the insurer denies coverage to others on the basis of your failure to report the accident in a timely manner.

Personal Injury Claims from Minor Accidents

While major accidents often cause major injuries, minor accidents can also cause significant injuries.

In Lawrence v. Parr, Ms. Parr’s vehicle rear-ended Ms. Lawrence’s vehicle, causing between $450 and $550 in damages per vehicle, which indicated that the accident was minor in nature. The car accident occurred in Vancouver at the intersection of West 16th Avenue and Oak Street. Ms. Lawrence was traveling westbound on West 16th Avenue and was stopped at a red light when she was struck from behind by Ms. Parr’s vehicle.

Ms. Lawrence said she was looking straight ahead with her foot on the brake at the time of impact and described the impact as a “hard-hit” which caused her vehicle to move forward about 1 foot. She was wearing her seatbelt at the time of the accident.

While Ms. Parr acknowledged causing the accident, her evidence was she didn’t believe the accident was significant and denied that the impact caused Ms. Lawrence’s vehicle to move ahead. Ms. Parr testified that her seatbelt didn’t tighten and her airbags never deployed. Ms. Parr described the accident as minor and stated her purse, which was sitting on the vehicle passenger seat, didn’t move as a result of the collision.

Despite the modest property damage to the vehicles, the judge found that Ms. Lawrence sustained injuries to her neck, back, jaw, and had pain and hearing issues in her left ear as a result of the accident. The judge found these injuries impacted Ms. Lawrence’s life causing her to experience pain and suffering, future loss of earning capacity, costly future care and to incur out of pocket expenses. In total, even though the property damage was less than $1,000 combined, Ms. Lawrence was awarded $45,386.78 for her injuries.

Initially, the parties incurred very little in property damage and may have been tempted not to report the claim. However, as Ms. Lawrence developed ongoing chronic pain and hearing damage in her left ear, the costs to her of this accident started increasing. Had she failed to report that accident, Ms. Lawrence may have been denied coverage for these injuries and loss of future earning capacity.

Tell Us What Happened at Kennith Cristall Law - Personal Injury Lawyers in Vancouver

In addition to reporting the car accident to police and ICBC, it would be in your best interests to tell an experienced car accident lawyer what happened. With information and your consent, we can work with you to help to preserve your rights and fight for the most compensation for you even if the accident was otherwise minor. We can meet with you in person when you need a car accident lawyer in Vancouver, Langley, Surrey, Burnaby and other cities in British Columbia. Contact us at 604‑654‑2250.

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