Help! I Hit an Object in the Road

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

••• 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 trailer’s 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. 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 the costs of repairing 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 play out with your insurance carrier.

Object Lying in the Road Means a Collision Claim

Hitting an object lying in the road can cause front end damage and undercarriage damage to your vehicle, not to mention damage to yourself or other passengers. Whether the object is debris dropped by a pickup truck, a pothole, 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. In most cases, it will be worth it to file a claim. However, if the damage is insignificant, it could make more sense not to file a claim.

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 a 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 unless you have accident forgiveness.

If a driver has had three at-fault accidents in a three year period, it is very likely his policy will not be renewed. It is an important fact to consider. If hitting a flying object does occur, consider all scenarios. How bad is the damage? How much will the damage cost to repair? How much is your deductible? How much could your car insurance premiums 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. It’s helpful to ask your insurance agent about the repercussions of being in an accident well before you do so.

Flying Object in Roadway Means a 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, and 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 a collision claim -- but it depends on how you set up your car insurance policy.

If the damage is to your windshield only, comprehensive is still the corresponding coverage. Your wallet should breathe a sigh of relief: 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 and the extras for which you’ve chosen to pay.

Comprehensive claims usually do not increase your insurance rate. Many insurance carriers only surcharge you if you’ve filed more than three comprehensive claims in a three year period. However, 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 well before something ever happens.

Swerving to Avoid Object in the Road

A natural reaction to an object in the road is to swerve around it. However, you should resist that urge: 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 instead of taking the chance of causing more damage. Only drive around an object if you have plenty of time to safely get around it.

Article Sources

  1. Allstate. "Collision Coverage." Accessed March 22, 2020.

  2. Auto Insurance. "How Long Does a Car Accident Affect Insurance?" Accessed March 22, 2020.

  3. Chiumento Dwyer Hertel Grant Attorneys at Law. "Reasons Why Your Auto Insurance Company Can and Can’t Cancel You." Accessed March 22, 2020.

  4. Esurance. "What Is Comprehensive Insurance?" Accessed March 22, 2020.

  5. The Zebra. "Car Insurance with Multiple Comprehensive Claims." Accessed March 22, 2020.