Toronto police to stop investigating minor accidents

Toronto police announced that it would stop probing minor car crashes if the combined damage came to less than $2,000.
Toronto police announced that it would stop probing minor car crashes if the combined damage came to less than $2,000. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

Buckle up, insurance cases are about to get a lot more uncertain.

The Toronto Police Service announced recently that it would stop probing minor car crashes if the combined damage came to less than $2,000.

According to Const. Clint Stibbe, of Traffic Services: “We’ve decreased the type of calls we’re going to respond to because of the rise in total number of collisions in recent years. . .The current model is no longer sustainable.”

Not only will people no longer have to call police when a minor crash occurs, but they don’t even have to report it to a collision centre.

There is a bit of a problem that a lack of police attendance and a collision report will create though: how will liability be determined when an accident has occurred?

Ontario insurance law is a fault based system. A driver cannot sue another driver if it is unknown who is at fault for the accident.

Toronto lawyer Darryl Singer told the AdvocateDaily.com: “Without a police officer at the scene, it will be easier for the potentially at-fault party’s insurer to defend on the basis that their insured was not actually at fault. . .When police attend the scene and determine this to have been the case they will issue a ticket to one of the parties. . .if they do not attend, this may open the door for the responsible party to concoct a story to deny liability.”

If fault is at issue and little certainty as to who is at fault, then the fight between the drivers and the insurers could get nasty, as it will likely result in a a lot of verbal sparring. Given 70 per cent of car crashes are minor that is going to be a lot of finger pointing.

What about fraud? With no police attendance and little certainty of what happened at the scene, how hard would it be to fake a small car accident?

Insurers are already on the lookout for fraud with claims that about 15 per cent of premiums are being used to cover fraudulent cases.

Once police stop showing up, how long will it be before that percentage increases?

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