Will Auto Insurance Pay for a Single Vehicle Accident?

A single vehicle accident includes all incidents where you don't collide with another vehicle, such as swerving off-road to avoid hitting a deer or another car. If you just carry basic liability coverage, your auto insurance will not pay for a single vehicle accident, but if you have a collision or comprehensive policy, it's likely your car insurance will cover your single vehicle accident claim. Want to update your policy to cover single vehicle accidents? Enter your ZIP code below to start comparing auto insurance quotes now.

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Rachel Bodine graduated from college with a BA in English. She has since worked as a Feature Writer in the insurance industry and gained a deep knowledge of state and countrywide insurance laws and rates. Her research and writing focus on helping readers understand their insurance coverage and how to find savings. Her expert advice on insurance has been featured on sites like PhotoEnforced, All...

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Written by Rachel Bodine
Insurance Feature Writer Rachel Bodine

Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insurance...

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Reviewed by Leslie Kasperowicz
Farmers CSR for 4 Years Leslie Kasperowicz

UPDATED: Mar 11, 2022

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Everyone makes mistakes. A single-vehicle accident can occur when you swerve off the road to avoid hitting a deer. Or, you may have lost traction and rolled into the ditch after hitting black ice.

Whatever the situation may be, you have vehicle damage and medical expenses. Will car insurance pay for your damages after a single-vehicle accident? Or will you be forced to pay for everything out of pocket? Today, we’re explaining everything you need to know about how car insurance covers single-vehicle accidents.

Car Insurance May or May Not Cover a Single Vehicle Accident

If you have basic liability insurance (the bare minimum insurance required to legally drive on the road), then it’s unlikely your car insurance policy will cover any damages from your single-vehicle accident. Liability insurance covers the costs you inflict on other drivers, property, and vehicles. If you hit another vehicle, for example, then your liability insurance covers the cost of repairing that vehicle along with any medical expenses of the other driver and passengers (assuming the accident was your fault).

If you have collision coverage, however, then your single-vehicle accident will be covered by your car insurance policy. Collision coverage is designed to protect against damage to your own vehicle after an accident – even if you are at fault.

Keep in mind that collision coverage is considered optional coverage. However, according to the Insurance Information Institute (III), nearly four out of five drivers choose to purchase collision and comprehensive coverage.

Your collision coverage will repair the car to its pre-accident shape – or cover the actual cash value of the vehicle if it’s declared a total loss.

Remember that in a single-vehicle accident, you are considered to be at fault. Even if an animal leaped in front of your vehicle, or if the roads were icy at the time of the collision, you are considered to be at fault in the vast majority of single-vehicle accidents. It will count as an at-fault claim on your driving record. Insurance premiums will go up.

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Does Car Insurance Cover Medical Expenses After a Single Vehicle Accident?

Your passengers can make a claim against your car insurance policy to cover their medical bills after an accident – even if your passengers are family members.

However, as the driver, there’s only one way for your medical bills to be covered by car insurance after an accident: if you have personal injury protection (PIP), then your car insurance will cover your medical bills up to the limits of your policy. Some states require personal injury protection coverage, although most do not.

If you do not have personal injury protection coverage, or if you exceed your PIP coverage limits, then you can use your ordinary health insurance policy to cover your medical bills. Typically, your car insurance is considered the ‘primary’ insurance after a single-vehicle accident, while your medical insurance is considered your ‘secondary’ insurance. Once your primary insurance limits are used up, you can use your secondary insurance to cover the remaining costs.

Should You File an Insurance Claim After a Single Vehicle Accident?

For a serious single-vehicle accident, it’s generally in your best interest to file an insurance claim. Your vehicle may require extensive repairs. It may even be totaled.

Furthermore, you may have serious injuries as a result of the accident. You could require extensive medical treatment. The full extent of your injuries may not be apparent for weeks after the accident. Whiplash symptoms, for example, may not appear right away.

However, if it’s a minor accident with minimal damage, then you may not wish to file an insurance claim. Single vehicle accidents are considered at-fault claims. An at-fault claim can cause insurance premiums to rise by 30% to 50%. If this is your second or third at-fault claim, then insurance premiums could rise even higher.

Most Common Causes of Single Vehicle Accidents

More than half of traffic deaths in America come from single-vehicle accidents. The most common causes of single-vehicle accidents include:

  • Distracted driving
  • Poor driving, like failing to take a curve at the proper speed
  • Sun glare
  • Slick road conditions
  • Potholes
  • Swerving to miss an animal or another road hazard
  • Flying objects, like a rock or tree branch hitting your windshield while driving

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Failing to Report a Single Vehicle Accident Could Impact Future Insurance Claims

Be aware that failing to file an insurance claim today could impact future repairs.

Let’s say you scrape the side of your car pulling into the garage. Then, a few years later, your car is hit from the side. Your car insurance may refuse to cover the cost of repairing the original scrape because it was from a previous incident.

Or, if your car is totaled, the amount of compensation you receive for the actual cash value of your vehicle may be reduced. Your car insurance company might give you only $19,000 for the value of your vehicle, for example, because it’s a $20,000 vehicle with approximately $1,000 of pre-existing damage from the single-vehicle accident you failed to report.

Final Word

More than half of traffic deaths across America occur in single-car accidents. While most of us fear getting hit by another driving making a mistake, you should be more concerned with single-vehicle accidents.

Check your car insurance policy to make sure you have collision coverage and personal injury protection (PIP) if you want your vehicle repair costs and medical bills to be covered after a single-vehicle accident.

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