When you’re charged with impaired driving or a DUI, one of the first things you must consider is ‘should I contact my insurance company? What do I do with my insurance?’
This is a very vexing question that clients will often ask us. And my answer is that it really repends on the situation. For example, let’s say there’s no motor vehicle accident at all – you’re not involved in an accident, you’ve simply been charged with impaired driving or a DUI.
I’m going to suggest to you in that situation you do not have an obligation to contact your insurance company, and you should not contact your insurance company. The reason being: you may win your charge and it may never come to the attention of the insurance company. If you voluntarily contact the insurance company, they’re going to be following your case. The second you’re found guilty or plead guilty, your insurance rate will go through the roof.
With insurance in Ontario, when a person is found guilty, not every insurance company checks criminal records every year. So some people can slip through the cracks. It’s better not to say anything. Of course, if your insurance company calls you up and says ‘are you charged with a DUI?’, you have an obligation to admit that you did.
Let’s take another situation which is even trickier than this. You’re involve in a motor vehicle accident with another car. First of all, your insurance company is probably likely to find that out. So you have to make certain decisions. If you have collision coverage, do you want to put that through insurance? If you are going to put it through insurance, say it’s a huge collision with $20 000 damage, you do have an obligation to phone them, you do have an obligation to give them a statement as well.
But you don’t want to give that statement until your lawyer has reviewed disclosure with you, so you understand the full dynamic of what happened that night and you’re prepared to give a statement. If you win your DUI, what’ll happen is most insurance companies will pay your collision at that point.
So let’s have a quick recap – if you’re involved in a motor vehicle accident, you may to contact your insurance company if you want to put it through. If you don’t want to put it through, I personally would not phone my insurance company but it may come to their attention anyway.
It’s a very vexing problem – every situation has to be handled intelligently and make the right decision for my client. So that’s the bottom line with respect to insurance and making that decision whether to call them or not.