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Who is at Fault For Hitting Debris in the Road?

Written by Michele Wilmonen. Posted in Ask An Insurance Question Last Updated: 10/26/2011

When a car is driving along the highway and hits debris on the road, who is at fault?

This scenario happens over and over every day all over the nation and there is no single answer to this situation. Most of the answers that are given by the insurance company in this case are also not the ones that you want to hear. So let’s jump into the 3 possible scenarios of hitting debris on the road and where the responsibility for the accident falls.

New Construction Debris

If you are driving down the road and a piece of construction debris falls into the road in front of you and you hit it, the construction company is at fault for the accident. They caused a situation that you could not avoid as it happened in front of you and too quickly for you to react. It is your duty at the scene of the accident to get the information of the construction company so that your insurance company will have someone to subrogate against.

Debris Off a Vehicle

If you hit a piece of debris that has fallen off of a vehicle in front of you, the scenario is the same as it is for the one above. The person in front of you is at fault for the accident as it is their duty to maintain a safe vehicle. It can be hard, but it is in your best interest to get the license plate number of the vehicle that lost the item you hit.

Debris Already in the Road

Okay, this is the one that is hotly contested by many people and I am just relaying the information so no angry emails. I don’t make the rules, heck I am not even affiliated with an insurance company that does.

If you hit a piece of debris in the middle of the road, in more cases than not, the insurance company is going to mark it as an at-fault accident. You hit the object with your vehicle; it was not moving and did not hit you. Also the insurance company is going to contend that if you hit it and did not see it, you were driving too fast for conditions or you would have been able to avoid the debris.

I know that in most situations that there is no way to avoid the debris and hitting it will actually cause less damage than swerving and hitting another car. But, this is the stance that most insurance companies take. If you feel that you situation warrants a different categorization, contact the insurance company that you filed the claim with to discuss. If you get nowhere with them, you can always talk to the Insurance Commissioner or Department of Insurance in your state about trying to get it changed.

Car Insurance Premium by the Mile

Written by Michele Wilmonen. Posted in Ask An Insurance Question, Research Last Updated: 11/17/2015

A new car insurance program being introduced only charges drivers car insurance premium for the amount of driving they actually do.

Manually Calculating Mileage on a Map

With the PAYD program, your insurance company will keep track of your mileage for you.

Would you drive less if your insurance company paid you to? This is the idea behind the pay-as-you-drive (PAYD) program. Your car insurance premium is based on the number of miles that you drive. While it is similar to discounts that are already offered by most insurance companies, the new car insurance premium discount that is being introduced  is more mile detailed.


With the PAYD programs you only pay the car insurance premium for the amount of miles that you drive (hence the name). To participate in this program you have to allow your insurance company to track you either through a device that you plug into your car or through information gathered by your agent as far as your odometer reading.

When you first start your policy you will guestimate how many miles you drive in a year and then your car insurance premium is based on that. If it is more than what you guessed, they will move you into a non-PAYD program. If your mileage is less, some of the insurance companies will refund you the portion of your car insurance premium that you technically didn’t use under this program.

What’s in it for the insurance companies? Simply, the less you use your car, the less chance you have of getting into a car accident that they have to pay out on.

(At this time California is the only state to have approved the insurance regulation on this type of insurance program)

Current Mileage Programs

You might be asking yourself what is the difference between this mileage use program and the one that you already have with your insurance company? The PAYD programs take the mileage estimates and use by 500 mile increments (minimum miles of 5,000).  Your insurance company looks at whether you are driving more or less than a certain number of miles each year, usually 7,500.

So if you tell them that you don’t drive a certain vehicle very much they will place you in the under 7,500 category.  If you commute 45 miles each way to work, they will put you in the above 7,500 mile category.

The other difference is that they don’t track your mileage, if you go over the 7,500 they would never know.  At the same time if you go under the 7,500 I wouldn’t hold my breath for a car insurance premium refund.

Benefits of the Program

Per Dave Jones, the California Insurance Commissioner, the PAYD programs are good for both the environment and also to reduce road congestion. The idea behind this is that if you are getting money back or cheaper car insurance premiums for not driving, you won’t drive.  If this program could be extended further to other states and drivers, the decrease of drivers on the road would have an impact in a number of ways.

One, less drivers on the road means a decreased chance of a car accident. Two, less car exhaust is always good for the environment. Three, less drivers on the road does also mean less traffic to have to fight through.

What is the Average Cost to Add a Teen to my Auto Insurance?

Written by Michele Wilmonen. Posted in Ask An Insurance Question Last Updated: 09/30/2011

Like anything else that is added to your insurance policy, the cost of adding a teen depends what is already on your policy.

For parents of teen drivers, being able to know how much your teen is going to increase your insurance premium would be a dream come true.  Unfortunately, we don’t live in that type of world and the expense of adding a teenager to an insurance policy is not only painful, it is really unknown.

First and foremost, you can’t predict how much a teen will add to your auto insurance premium because all premiums differ from policy to policy.  There is no way to even figure out an average across the board of how much auto insurance premiums have increased for other parents.

This is due to insurance policies being rated on information such as the personal information of the drivers already on the policy, the driving records of the drivers on the policy and also the teen being added, the details of the vehicles on the policy, where you live, if you have any specific discounts, if your teen driver qualifies for a good student discount and finally, what vehicle will your teen be driving.

To add to all of those variables is that the insurance premiums vary from state to state and also from company to company.  The only thing that you can do is call your insurance company and ask them for a quote to add a teen driver so that you can get prepared for adding them in the future.

What Coverage Applies if you Hit a Deer (Dead or Alive)?

Written by Michele Wilmonen. Posted in Ask An Insurance Question Last Updated: 09/29/2011

Hitting a dead deer or an alive deer is all covered under the same coverage.

Any time you have a run in with an animal, whether they run into you or you run into them, it is covered under your comprehensive coverage on your insurance policy. This includes if the animal that you hit is dead.

So if you are driving and you hit a dead deer that was laying in the road from someone hitting it earlier, your insurance company is going to repair the damages under your comprehensive coverage. This also means that your comprehensive deductible applies, not your collision deductible.

If I Cancel a Policy that I Paid in Full, Do I Get a Refund?

Written by Michele Wilmonen. Posted in Ask An Insurance Question Last Updated: 09/29/2011

Unless an insurance company has thrown in a cancellation clause, any unearned premium has to be refunded to you.

In most cases, if you have paid in full for your insurance term you are owed a refund if you cancel your policy at any time before the renewal date. Insurance companies cannot keep the money that you paid to them if they do not provide you with insurance.

For example, if you pay for insurance for January 1st though June 30th and cancel March 31st; you are owed a refund for April 1st through June 30th. The insurance company is not extending you coverage for this time period so you owe them no money for this period.

The only exception to this is if your insurance company has put in a cancellation clause on your policy. Most of these clauses state that if you cancel your policy within the first 60 days you still owe them a minimum of the 60 days of insurance. If your insurance company has something like this they will (or at least should) tell you when you first purchase your policy.

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