What Is a Collision Reporting Center?

Posted on March 3, 2021

In Canada, more than 150,000 people are injured in road accidents each year. In 2018, the year for which the latest full statistics are available, car crashes led to 152,847 injuries. Of these, 4.4% (9,494 incidents) resulted in serious injuries.

Those figures are high enough, but they don't include property-damage-only crashes. Such road accidents are those that often require a trip to a Collision Reporting Center (CRC).

What exactly is a CRC, though, and how does it benefit the public? When should you head to one, and what can you expect the process to be once you're there?

We'll address all these questions in this comprehensive guide, so be sure to keep reading!

What Exactly Is a Collision Reporting Centre?

Collision Reporting Centers are partnerships between the police, insurance companies, and private enterprises. CRC's simplify the process of reporting vehicle damages to the police and insurers. They allow motorists involved in property-damage-only crashes to self-report the incident.

CRC's also help ease some of the workload handled by the police. This is especially true for Toronto, Ontario, which, in 2018, saw a drop of 8% in police strength. Calgary, Alberta, also had an 11% decrease in police strength in the same year.

CRC's aid the police by being their "representative" in property-damage-only collisions. Officers won't have to go to the scene of such accidents anymore, which then saves them time. It's also in this way that the police can reallocate their resources to more pressing matters.

To top everything off, CRC funding comes from the Insurance Industry itself. Meaning, motorists who report to a CRC won't have to worry about paying a fee to file a report.

There are over 30 Ontario, Canada Collision Reporting Center locations. Alberta also has three CRCs.

What Should You Do Before You Go to a CRC?

"Fleeing" a crash site is against the Criminal Code of Canada. Such crimes are punishable by a fine of $1,000 and even imprisonment.

So, if you are involved in a crash, make sure you stop at the scene. If your vehicle is movable, park it in the nearest area of safety.

From there, follow the standard protocol as detailed below.

Check for Injuries

Check everyone involved in the accident to see if anyone sustained injuries. If there is, and the injured person requires professional medical help, dial 911 on the spot.

Road accidents that result in injuries also require immediate reporting to the police. In such cases, everyone involved in the crash must wait for the officers to arrive at the scene.

Assess Property Damages

If no one suffered any injury, assess the property damage that resulted from the crash.

By Ontario law, you need to report a crash to the police if the combined wreckage appears to be worth over $2,000. The same goes if the accident caused damages to highway or public property (even if it's less than $2,000). Alberta follows the same dollar thresholds for reporting car accidents.

Exchange Information With Other Involved Motorists

Ask the other drivers to furnish their actual driver's licenses and insurance cards. This way, you can copy the information directly from official documents. This helps prevent drivers from giving fake names or invalid insurance policy details.  

Make sure you obtain the following from all involved drivers:

  • Complete name, address, and contact details
  • Driver’s license number
  • Name of the car insurance company
  • Car insurance policy number
  • Vehicle make, model, and year
  • License plate number

Contact the police if anyone involved in the crash is uncooperative. An example is when another driver doesn’t want to show you their license or insurance card. They may do this if they don’t have enough auto insurance coverage, making them underinsured.

Don’t forget to talk to witnesses and ask them for their contact information. Their testimonies may prove helpful when you need to file an auto insurance claim.

When Do You Need to Go to a Collision Reporting Center?

You must call or go to a CRC if there was no one injured during the accident, but the total damage seems to be over $2,000. However, it’s still best to go to the nearest CRC if you’re unsure how much the damage is. The damages may turn out to be less than $2,000, but at least you won’t be at risk of getting charged with an offense.

Make sure to contact a Collision Reporting Center within 24 hours from the time of the crash. For accidents that occur during weekends, you may have up to 48 hours if the closest CRC isn't open.

If you called the police at the crash scene and they told you to go to a CRC, be sure to follow their instructions. Otherwise, the authorities may consider you guilty of an offense.

Which Accidents Aren't Reportable to CRCs?

Collision Reporting Centers don’t handle accidents that result in injury or fatalities. Such accidents require involved motorists to contact the police from the scene itself. In this case, you must wait for the law enforcers and shouldn't leave the scene until permitted to do so.

You should also call 911 or the police from the accident scene if you suspect any criminal activity. For example, the other driver you've been in a crash with seems to be under the influence of a substance. In this case, the police must be present at the accident site.

Dial 911 or contact the police if you think you're dealing with a stolen vehicle. Do the same if any of the other involved motorists commit violence.

Accidents that involve vehicles transporting dangerous or hazardous goods also require police attendance. If there's a pedestrian or cyclist involved, the police must go to the scene, too.

What if Your Car Is No Longer Drivable?

In this case, you need to stay at the scene to have your vehicle towed to the nearest CRC. You may wish to contact the local police for further instructions. An officer may either ask you to wait or direct you to the closest CRC branch.

If you're a Canadian Tire Roadside Assistance member, towing services may be a part of your plan. Ring up the CTRA to find out if they can help transport your vehicle to the CRC.

Note that you can't leave immovable vehicles at the Collision Reporting Center, though. So, you'd need to get your car towed to a different location (like a repair shop) after finishing your report.

Can You Report a "Fail to Remain" Accident to a CRC?

If you're a "fail to remain" (AKA hit and run) victim and you were at the scene when it happened, call the police right away. They would likely require you to stay put and wait for them.

Follow their instructions, and be sure to go to the CRC only when instructed to do so.

If the hit and run collision occurred while you weren't at the scene, go to the nearest CRC. The center will accommodate your need to file a report.

The CRC will also contact the police department. An officer may attend to the scene if the suspect vehicle (or driver) is still in the area of the crash.

Which Collision Accident Reporting Center Should You Go To?

There are over 30 Ontario, Canada Collision Reporting Center locations. Alberta also has three CRC branches.

By law, though, you need to file a report through the CRC nearest the site of the accident. For example, if you got into a crash in Toronto, you must attend either the North York or the Scarborough CRC. If the collision occurred in Waterloo, then you must head to the Waterloo CRC.

What Can You Expect Once You're at the CRC?

Once you're at the accident reporting center, you may have to wait for a few minutes for a CRC staff to attend to you. This depends on how busy the actual center is, so if it's not, expect a representative to help you right away.

Here's a step by step break down of what usually happens at a Collision Reporting Center.

Completion of Collision Report Form

The CRC staff member will ask you to fill out a motor vehicle collision report form. It's where you'll write details about your driver's license, car ownership, and insurance. The CRC representative will then validate your license, permit, and insurance information.

You would also need to provide a written account of the accident and complete a diagram. The CRC staff will input these details into their computer database.

Photographing the Vehicles Involved

After filling out the report form, the CRC staff will take photos of the damages to all involved vehicles. There will also be a "Damage Reported to Police" sticker applied to each car. These stickers aim to prevent possible fraudulent additions of vehicle damage.

Police Officer Involvement

A police officer at the CRC will assess the damages to each involved vehicle. The officer will include details of the assessment in the collision report.

It’s also at this point that you’d have to give a verbal account of the car accident. The officer will include your statement in the written collision report.

Make sure you provide as many pertinent details as you can about the crash. No matter how small it may be, include it in your statement, as it may prove helpful when you file a car insurance claim.

However, be careful of the terms you use while you recount the events leading to the crash. For starters, avoid using accusative words (especially if you don’t have proof). At the same time, you don’t want to sound like you’re admitting fault, either.

What’s vital is to remain as factual and as unbiased as possible throughout the process.

Assistance With Filing a Car Insurance Claim

Collision Reporting Centers also provide insurance-related services at the facility itself. They have phones with direct connections to some of Canada's top insurance companies. If you want to start the claims filing process, you can do so while you're at the CRC.

The police and the CRC do not send the reports automatically to insurance companies. However, insurance providers can access these reports through the secure CRC portal.

This means that motorists can file a report through a CRC with the option not to inform their insurer. However, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t notify your car insurance provider. Especially not if your insurance carrier mandates you to report all auto accidents.

Your insurance company may learn of the crash through the carrier of the other drivers. If this happens (along with a breach of your insurance contract), your policy may get cancelled.

Where Can You Get a Copy of the Collision Report Filed at a CRC?

So long as you're directly involved in the crash, you can get a copy through your insurer. You can also request the regional police service that attended to your case to provide one.  

If you can wait for four to six weeks, you can request a copy of the collision report online via ServiceOntario. It usually takes 20 to 30 days for recent accident reports to get uploaded into the service's system. Once it's available online, you can immediately download a copy of the document.

You can download an uncertified copy for $12. This is what most motorists usually need for insurance claims.

If you need a copy of the report for other legal purposes, you can get a certified report for $18. This version comes with a Ministry of Transportation seal.

Drive Safely to Avoid Taking Trips to CRCs

As you can see, reporting to a Collision Reporting Center can be much faster and safer for motorists. Involved drivers don't have to wait for the police, so they can avoid creating congestion. Police officials even say this can reduce injury risks or secondary crashes.

Still, your priority should always be to drive safely to avoid accidents. Besides, a clean driving record can help you snag better insurance rates.

Speaking of which, do you need help finding the best auto insurance quotes in Canada? If so, reach out to us here at Insurdinary, and we'll be happy to help you get the right policy!

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