What happens if you are involved in an accident where the driver takes off, or doesn’t know about the accident, and he or she can’t be found?
There is coverage in Canada for those involved in an accident with an unidentified motorist and vehicle.
Will I be able to make an insurance claim, even if the other driver is unknown?
The respective provinces and territories acknowledge accidents where the other person is either underinsured or not identifiable and make allowances for victims of these accidents to be compensated.
For example, s. 24 of the Insurance Vehicle Act of British Columbia outlines that victims involved in a hit-and-run where the other party cannot be identified still have the right to compensation. In such cases, victims would make a claim against any other at-fault-driver and/or their own insurance company. However, there are often limits to how much you could be compensated where the at-fault driver is unidentified or uninsured.
Although insurance claims programs will usually cover you, even if the at-fault driver cannot be found, you are not released from responsibility completely.
Making reasonable efforts to find who was at-fault even where the identity of the other driver is unknown
In some provinces, even if you don’t know who the other driver is, you are required to take reasonable steps to figure out who was at-fault for the accident and cooperate with authorities. That means reporting the accident to police, cooperating with police, getting details at the scene of the accident and helping to find witnesses who saw what happened and could possibly help with identifying the unknown driver.
What are the limitations of coverage when the at-fault driver is unidentifiable?
Though most insurance acts in Canada mandate that all drivers must be covered for insurance under the policy, which includes unknown and uninsured drivers, there is a limit to how much compensation can be claimed in such a case.
For example, in Ontario the amount recoverable is $200,000. The insurer steps into the shoes of the unknown driver in order for you to be compensated, but at a limit. This is not the limit for all provinces and you should consult your insurance policy to see what the recoverable limit is for your province or territory.
Also remember that strict time limits apply for making a claim to your own insurance, just the same as if you were making a claim to the at-fault driver’s insurance. If you were involved in an accident where the at-fault driver is unknown, then you still need to start a claim as soon as possible.
Finally, in some cases, coverage will not be available. For example, if there is liability for the accident on another vehicle. This rule is also known as the 1% rule in the province of Ontario.
If you want to find out what the limitation is for coverage in case the at-fault driver is unknown or uninsured, you should consult your insurance broker or a lawyer. In cases where you have been involved in an accident where the at-fault driver is unknown, you should contact a lawyer as soon as possible.
British Columbia Insurance Vehicle Act
Who to sue for hit and run/unidentified motorist claims
Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage
Ontario Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Fund