Sliding on Ice and Car Insurance Claims

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Sliding on ice is a scary and frustrating situation. You might feel you're driving cautiously for the road conditions, but you can still lose control of your vehicle on ice.

Sliding on ice can cause a lot of damage. Damage occurs in many different forms:

After an ice-related accident, ​you might wonder if car insurance will completely cover the damage. Learn how your insurance works in these situations.

Types of Damage in Sliding-on-Ice Accidents

Sliding on ice can cause several types of damage, and each one is covered differently.

Injuries to Others

If a party in another vehicle or a pedestrian is injured, your bodily injury liability coverage will cover their expenses, including medical bills and lost wages, up to your policy limits. Limits are listed per person/per accident, so if your policy says $25,000/$50,000, you have a limit of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident.

Injuries to Yourself or Your Passengers

Medical payments or personal injury protection (PIP) coverage applies to injuries to yourself and other passengers in your vehicle. This coverage is mandatory in some states, but not all. Some PIP policies cover lost income, rehabilitation costs, and other expenses related to recovery.

Damage to Your Vehicle

Damage sustained by your vehicle after hitting a patch of ice will be covered if you have collision coverage. This coverage pays for repairs to your car (up to your policy limits) if you hit a guardrail, another vehicle, a mailbox, or any other inanimate object. Plan on paying your deductible before any claims are paid.

Damage to Another Vehicle and Property

In most states, property damage liability pays out whether the damage is to someone else's vehicle, a mailbox, or a stop sign. Most states require property damage liability coverage. California, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania have the lowest minimum property damage coverage requirements at $5,000. In many cases, the minimum coverage may not be enough, and you're responsible for what's not covered by insurance.

Towing Costs

Sliding on the ice may result in needing a tow. Depending on your insurance policy, you may have coverage for a tow or to pull you out of the ditch. Call your insurance carrier to verify your coverage and find out who to call if you need to be towed. You may be able to file a claim on the spot and avoid paying any money out of pocket.

If you get stuck in snow, AAA recommends staying with your vehicle, tying a brightly colored cloth to your antenna for visibility, and clearing your exhaust pipe of any snow, ice, or mud.

Who's At Fault in an Ice-Related Accident?

If you slide on ice and hit another car or object, it's typically considered an at-fault claim by your insurance carrier. It doesn't matter if the police officer let you go without a ticket; your insurance company is going to decide that someone is at fault, and it's not going to be the ice. Driving too fast for the conditions is usually given as the reason. It often doesn't matter if you were driving at a snail’s pace; being on the roadway is reason enough.

Many drivers feel they aren't at-fault after sliding on ice. Your best defense against sliding on ice is staying off the road. If you do have to get out there, make sure to leave plenty of space between you and the car in front of you. Drive at a speed that gives you control over your vehicle. Don't slam the brakes and learn how to maneuver out of a skid.​

How to Safely Drive on Icy Roads

It can be challenging to avoid sliding on ice, but some strategies will reduce your risk of sliding around and your chances of having to file an insurance claim.

You're most likely to encounter ice early in the morning and late at night. During those times, the sun can’t melt ice on the roads and you can’t see it well. Keep a lookout if you're driving through a shaded area during the day as well. Additionally, bridges are more easily cooled by air passing underneath them and more prone to freezing.

If you do find yourself sliding, resist the urge to do anything drastic. The less you jerk the wheel and pump the brakes, the greater your chances of surviving the slide without hurting others or yourself. 

Article Sources

  1. Insurance Information Institute. "Auto Insurance Basics—Understanding Your Coverage." Accessed Sept. 18, 2020.

  2. Insurance Information Institute. "Automobile Financial Responsibility Laws by State." Accessed Sept. 18, 2020.

  3. AAA Exchange. "Winter Driving Tips." Accessed Sept. 18, 2020.