Help! I Hit an Object in the Road

Is Hitting an Object In the Road a Comprehensive or a Collision Claim?

Highway
Getty Images/James Osmond

You’re driving down the highway behind a tractor trailer jamming to your favorite tunes when all of a sudden, you hear a sickening “pop!” and see the rear tire burst, sending hot rubber flying everywhere -- including into your windshield. Thankfully, you’re able to pull over on the side of the road and no one was hurt, but there’s a sizeable crack in your windshield.

Perhaps you’re driving down a twisting country road late at night when a suicidal deer decides to hop onto your hood, damaging everything underneath.

Or maybe you were looking down for a minute to adjust the radio and end up hitting a devastatingly large object someone left in the middle of the road.

Every driver is faced with many different perils while driving. Objects lying in the road -- or sometimes worse, flying in the roadway -- can be unavoidable at times. Damage can be severe, leading you to wonder if your car insurance policy will cover the loss and costs to repair the damage. If you need help figuring out what to do after hitting an object in the road, take a look at how these scenarios will be played out with your insurance carrier.

Object Lying in the Road = Collision Claim

Hitting an object lying in the road can cause front end damage and undercarriage damage to your vehicle. Whether the object is debris dropped by a pickup truck, a pot hole, or a fallen tree you are looking at a collision claim on your car insurance. Expect to pay a deductible when filing a collision claim.

In this case, it will be considered an at-fault claim which will affect your car insurance rates in the future, unless you have purchased accident forgiveness. Insurance carriers consider objects in the road avoidable accidents which makes it an at-fault accident.

Should I File a Claim?

The vehicle which dropped the debris will not be held responsible for repairs to your vehicle.

Make sure the damage sustained to your vehicle exceeds your deductible enough to make the claim worth filing. The amount of a surcharge for an at-fault accident varies per policy. It is common for a surcharge to last three years.

If a driver has 3 at-fault accidents in a three year period, it is very likely the policy will be nonrenewed. It is an important fact to consider. If hitting a flying object does occur, consider all scenarios. How much is the damage? How much is your deductible? How much could your car insurance go up for filing an at-fault accident? Have you already filed an at-fault claim within the past three years? What are the chances of being in another accident? Knowing the answers to these questions can help you determine if it is worth it to file the claim.

Flying Object in Roadway = Comprehensive Claim

Debris flying out of the bed of a pickup truck or an overstuffed car trunk is handled a little differently so long as it is still mid-air while you hit it. It is very common to have a rock fly into your windshield. Flying debris is considered unavoidable. Insurance carriers consider flying debris to be a comprehensive claim. A deductible still applies, however, it is often a lower deductible than collision but it depends on how you set up your car insurance policy.

If the damage is to your windshield only, comprehensive still is the corresponding coverage. A repairable chip in the windshield from a flying rock can be claimed without a deductible according to most insurance carriers. Some insurance carriers offer an extra endorsement on windshields to avoid paying a deductible even if the windshield needs to be replaced. It all depends on how your policy is set up.

Comprehensive claims usually do not increase your insurance rate. Many insurance carriers only surcharge you if you file more than three comprehensive claims in a three year period. Since comprehensive claims can add up quickly and are very common, some insurance carriers have begun to surcharge. It is best to check with your insurance provider to find out if the claim will affect your rate.

Swerving to Avoid Object in the Road

A natural reaction to an object in the road is to swerve around it. Swerving can lead to even more extensive damage depending on your speed and if you hit something else instead. Swerving to miss an object in the road and losing control and hitting a tree can be extremely dangerous. It can also be much more expensive in the long run. The object may have only caused minor manageable damage while a tree can easily cause extensive damage and injury. Swerving to avoid an object in the road and striking something else instead will be considered an at-fault collision claim. You are better off hitting the object verse with the chance of causing more damage. Only drive around an object if you have plenty of time to safely get around it.