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What coverage do I claim under for hitting a utility pole?


Question: If I hit a utility pole and no ticket was issued, what would this fall under?  What if you were run off the road into the pole, shouldn’t that fall under uninsured motorist coverage?  The other driver didn’t stop, and the pole is uninsured.

Answer:  If you hit a utility pole in a one-car accident, then the damage to your car would normally fall under your collision coverage.

To process your claim, your insurance company doesn’t care if you received a ticket or not. It does need to decide whether you were at fault and thus will want to know the circumstances of the accident. An at-fault auto accident is likely to have a bigger impact on your rates.

If you simply lost control, typically you’d be found at-fault. If you can prove that you hit the utility pole because you were run off the roadway (independent witnesses and a police report verifying this would help), then you may be able keep the claim from being labeled your fault; however, your car’s damages would usually still be covered by collision insurance and not uninsured motorist.

Being run off the road by a “phantom vehicle” (how insurers refer to vehicles that don’t stop and you have no information on), is called a miss-and-run, since the person didn’t make physical contact with your vehicle.  Miss-and-runs are not normally covered by uninsured motorist property damage (UMPD) coverage.

Car insurance providers believe if such claims were allowed that people would be untruthful about how damage occurred, basically that motorists would try to put collision claims under UMPD.

If, however, you were injured when you hit the pole, then, in some states, uninsured motorist bodily injury (UMBI) will cover miss-and-run incidents, meaning your medical expenses would be covered (up to your UMBI limit).  The thinking by insurers appears to be that most people wouldn’t intentionally injure themselves to make such as claim. 

The pole can’t be blamed for your accident; it didn’t jump out and hit your car, and it probably is insured by its owners.

Since insurance policy terms and coverages do vary, I’d advise you to check with your car insurance provider to see if your UMPD would cover this incident.  However, don’t be surprised if it’s not covered and you will have to use your collision coverage.

Also, don’t be surprised if the owner of the utility pole contacts you about being compensated for damage done to it.  Any damage to the pole should be covered under your property damage liability coverage.

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