Find out what circumstances are covered by auto insurance.
Hit a tree, drive into a pole, wall or anything else solid enough, and you might be looking at serious damage to your car, and possibly your health. Left with a damaged vehicle and a hefty repair bill, you may be wondering if these incidents are covered by your insurance.
That said, whether your car insurance will cover the accident depends on your policy and the situation at hand.
Ready to compare car insurance cover options?
Which policies cover this type of damage?
Generally, the only kind of policy that will pay out for this kind of accident is comprehensive car insurance.
The only circumstances where cheaper third-party fire and theft car insurance will cover you are if:
- a thief stole your car and then drove it into a tree, a pole or other solid object; or
- an uninsured driver, without third-party insurance of their own, was responsible for you running into the pole.
If you have comprehensive coverage your policy should cover the cost of repairs to your car, in line with the policy terms.
For example, your policy will probably cover the cost of repairs if you accidentally lost control on a wet road, despite driving prudently; or if you had to swerve to avoid a deer.
With that in mind, your claim would likely be denied if you hit the pole because you were driving whilst drunk, or even if you were driving sober but refused to take a drug or alcohol test at the scene of the accident.
Would I have to pay for damage to the pole?
It depends on who the pole belongs to and the exact circumstances of the crash, but typically yes, you will have to pay for the damage.
Fortunately, your car insurance should cover the cost, thanks to “third-party liability insurance”, which is included with all the main types of car insurance.
In this case, the “third party” refers to whoever owns the pole, and “liability” refers to your obligation to pay for the damage.
What should I do after an accident?
If you’ve been involved in an accident, you should take the following steps:
- Assess the situation. If it’s serious, for example, if someone is injured, or you hit an electricity pole and caused a blackout, then you should call emergency services.
- Gather information: Record any important information that may be needed for insurance. If you can, write down the details of the accident while it’s fresh in your mind and take photos, or have someone take them for you.
- Decide who to call: Call emergency services first if necessary, and call the police non-emergency line within 24 hours to report the accident. It’s also important that you call your insurer as soon as reasonably possible. The insurer can usually arrange a tow truck, approve the cost of towing if needed, and may also be able to approve necessary repairs quickly.
- Wait at the scene: Unless it is unsafe, you shouldn’t leave the scene until towing has been arranged. If your car is damaged, you shouldn’t attempt to drive it away. Doing so might cause further damage and jeopardize your claim.
Will I be fined?
Generally not; car accidents themselves are not a fineable offense. However, the driving that causes them might be. If you do get fined after running into a pole or a tree it’s probably for the traffic infringement that led to the accident, rather than the accident itself. Fines are not covered by car insurance.
You won’t be “fined” for damage to the pole, tree or other property either, but you might be held liable for the cost of repair. This will generally be covered by third-party property car insurance.
Am I covered by insurance if I hit road debris?
Yes. Damage from road debris can be covered in the same way as hitting a pole.
The main difference is that if you hit road debris, it’s probably less likely to be your fault than hitting a tree. It’s possible that whoever was responsible for it being on the road might be held liable, in which case their liability coverage may pay for the damage to your vehicle.
However, this can only happen if the person responsible can be identified. If not, you might have to make an “at fault” claim, as you would if you drove into a tree.