Eric Lai answers readers’ auto questions every week for Wheels.
Q: My condominium building has one way in and one way out of the parking garage.
Due to work being done by Enbridge, or a subcontractor, thick steel plates have been placed over the ditches they created to lay the pipe for new gas lines.
Due to the elevation of said steel plates, my car’s rocker panel came into contact with the plate and was ripped off of the vehicle.
My insurance company regards this as an at-fault accident, as though it was an avoidable obstacle. How can the insurance company consider this to be my fault when I have entered and exited this parking area routinely without problem until Enbridge put down the steel plates?
A: The City of Toronto, Enbridge, and the Insurance Ombudsman are all possible stakeholders to pursue in resolving this matter.
We asked the Insurance Bureau of Canada whether low-profile tires and/or low ground clearance of the vehicle might affect the fault determination.
Steve Kee, spokesperson for the Insurance Bureau of Canada, replies:
Modifications to the vehicle may have an impact.
Section 3 of the Ontario Application for Automobile Insurance Owner’s Form (OAF1) asks if the auto has been “Modified/Customized” and provides this note:
“Modified/customized includes changes, other than repairs or restorations, that affect the original manufacturer’s design specifications or increase the value of the automobile. These may include, but are not limited to: engine modifications; paint changes; non-factory installed wheels, tires and electronic accessories and equipment, etc. If you are insured for ‘Loss or Damage Coverage,’ there is a $1,500 limit on non-factory installed electronic accessories and equipment.”
Insurers may respond differently, but this wording applies to all.
As for being at fault, various factors should be considered including whether there was appropriate signage or markings, but collision coverage states the following:
Collision or upset — we will pay for losses caused when a described automobile is involved in a collision with another object or tips over.
Object includes another automobile that is attached to the automobile, the surface of the ground, and any object in or on the ground.
Going by this section, an impact as described would usually be deemed an at-fault loss.
Update from our reader:
Following up with Enbridge seems to have done the trick.
Total damage was under $150, as the incident occurred below 5 km/h. The office of the ombudsman (for Enbridge) handed me off to their subcontractor who was surprisingly proactive in looking to get this resolved. They advise “the check is in the mail.”
Got a beef? Send it to Eric Lai at firstname.lastname@example.org. Include year, make, model and kilometres of autos cited, plus your name, address and telephone number. Personal replies cannot be handled due to volume.
Columns Everything you need to know about purchasing, maintaining and driving your car.
Become a member
Register now to access all features including:
- Save and ask friends to review vehicles
- Exclusive rebates & offers from local dealers
- Premium content, reviews and tools
All for free!
Already a member?
Registration 2 of 2
Welcome to Wheels!
As a final step we've sent a confirmation to your email address as a security measure. Please click the link in the email to complete your registration.
Terms of services
DISCLAIMER OF WARRANTIES AND LIMITATION OF LIABILITY
TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW, TORONTO STAR IS PROVIDING THE TORONTO STAR WEBSITES ON AN "AS IS" AND â€œAS AVAILABLEâ€ BASIS AND MAKES NO WARRANTIES OR REPRESENTATIONS, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING WITHOUT LIMITATION THE IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE, IN ANY CONNECTION WITH THE TORONTO STAR WEBSITES, THEIR CONTENTS, OR ANY WEB SITE OR CONTENTS WITH WHICH IT IS LINKED. TORONTO STAR DOES NOT WARRANT THAT THE FUNCTION OF THE TORONTO STAR WEBSITES OR THEIR CONTENTS WILL BE UNINTERRUPTED OR ERROR FREE, THAT DEFECTS WILL BE CORRECTED, OR THAT THE TORONTO STAR WEBSITES OR THE SERVERS THAT MAKE IT AVAILABLE ARE FREE OF VIRUSES OR OTHER HARMFUL COMPONENTS.
TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW, UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, NEGLIGENCE, SHALL TORONTO STAR BE LIABLE FOR ANY LOSS OF USE, LOSS OF DATA, LOSS OF INCOME OR PROFIT, LOSS OF OR DAMAGE TO PROPERTY, OR FOR ANY DAMAGES OF ANY KIND OR CHARACTER (INCLUDING WITHOUT LIMITATION ANY COMPENSATORY, INCIDENTAL, DIRECT, INDIRECT, SPECIAL, PUNITIVE, OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES), EVEN IF TORONTO STAR HAS BEEN ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGES OR LOSSES, ARISING OUT OF OR IN CONNECTION WITH THE USE OF THE TORONTO STAR WEBSITES, THEIR CONTENTS, OR ANY WEBSITE OR CONTENTS WITH WHICH IT IS LINKED. IN NO EVENT SHALL TORONTO STARâ€™S TOTAL LIABILITY FOR ALL DAMAGES, LOSSES, AND CAUSES OF ACTION, WHETHER IN CONTRACT, TORT (INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, NEGLIGENCE), OR OTHERWISE, EXCEED THE AMOUNT PAID BY YOU FOR ACCESSING THIS SITE.X