If a tree falls in the woods and no one hears it, did it really happen? If snow damaged your vehicle and you call your insurance, will they pretend like it didn’t happen?
The philosophical possibilities perplex all of us. But what’s the true answer? Does it take a true savant philosopher to find the meaning (or the true terms of your insurance policy)? Are you truly left out in the cold on your own during the dead of winter?
Overall, winter can be tough on your vehicle. From flying debris to heavy snow, there are tons of hazards when taking your car out on a wintery (and/or icy) trip. If you are in Colorado, things are only amplified by the brutality of the frigid season. Just last month we saw a record-breaking temperature drop that brought with it many car dangers.
From falling branches to black ice accidents, winter can be biting for both your body and your wallet. If your vehicle is damaged by arctic circumstances, are you covered by your auto insurance?
Let’s break it down.
It All Depends on the Policy
Before we even begin delving into the questions surrounding a vehicle damaged by winter, we must overview the differences in auto insurance policies.
Ultimately, there are three main insurance policy types for vehicles. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to note all of them and their intricacies here, for each provider will have their own list of coverages and overlooked incidents. Therefore, this is a bit of a generalized list.
While extensive and small details will vary by the insurance agency, the overall policy types go as follows:
- Liability Insurance: The cheapest and base insurance for vehicles. Basically, it will cover damages to other cars if you get into an accident. Overall, it protects you from lawsuits and other claims filed by the other driver(s). Usually, this insurance does not cover damages to your vehicle.
- Collision Coverage: Like liability insurance, this policy covers finances regarding the other party’s charges. Furthermore, it will cover the car repair cost if you are in an accident.
- Comprehensive and Full-Coverage: The most full-scale of the three (hence the name). This policy covers all of the above and most damages to your car outside of accidents.
Liability Ain’t Happening
Let’s get the first policy out of the way.
Liability insurance is used to pay for the other party’s damage in accidents. It protects you from lawsuits and hefty repair bills, but it doesn’t work to repair your vehicle. Therefore, liability will not cover any damage related to snow and ice.
If you are worried about potential winter danger or live in a heavily-wooded area, liability might not be your best option.
Collision Will Cover Ice
Collision coverage will cover a damaged vehicle if it is caused and reported through an accident, regardless of who is at fault. If you happen to slide on black ice into another car, your collision insurance should cover it without question.
The issue with collision insurance lies in the deductible. Oftentimes, insurance agencies are not required to pay for repairs unless the costs reach a certain point. For example, if your deductible is $500, the damage caused by a winter-related accident would have to exceed $500 to be covered by the insurance company.
Comprehensive Coverage Covers Everything
Regardless of the reason your vehicle is damaged (whether weather-related or not), comprehensive coverage insurance will often take care of it. It is often called full coverage, after all.
Typically, comprehensive coverage will cover vehicle repairs and replacements for the following reasons:
- Collisions with an animal
- Falling debris
Once again, all policies are different. There are always fine lines and stipulations within every insurance claim, but overall, comprehensive should cover you. Regardless of the winter hazard, your insurance company should be willing to help out.
Though we can garner a general idea about what insurance policies will cover winter issues, we need to research further to identify each exact situation. At the end of the day, snow-related problems can be odd and fall within a gray area of insurance policies.
For example, is a falling tree really automobiley enough to be covered by auto insurance?
Let’s dive into each exact scenario.
Ice and black ice can be extremely dangerous while driving. With the blink of an eye, you can find yourself spiraling out of control (literally). Overall, ice-related accidents are the biggest hazard when driving in the winter.
If you crashed into another vehicle due to ice, all insurance should cover the other vehicle’s damage. Collision and comprehensive would cover your vehicle’s damages, too.
This example is pretty straightforward.
Snow is heavy. When enough snow piles onto trees and other hanging structures, they can fall onto your vehicle. This is a situation in which maximum damage occurs. Even the snow with the most powder can weigh significant amounts. If a snowy branch or tree falls onto your car, it can easily be totaled.
A rule of thumb is that these incidents would only be covered by comprehensive insurance. At the end of the day, the damage isn’t cause by a vehicle-related accident. Therefore, collision is out the window.
On the other hand, if something like your garage or part of your house falls on your vehicle, it would likely fall into your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance. If something falls from another building or store, it would often be covered by the owner.
If you’ve ever taken a trip up I-70 after a winter storm, you know the dangers of flying debris. Ice, snow, salt, and sand can come lurching at your vehicle, especially if kicked up by tractor-trailers or large trucks.
Unfortunately, flying debris falls under the comprehensive category once again. It isn’t caused by a collision or accident, so it’s not covered by lower-level insurance.
Driving Over Obstacles
Lastly, let’s discuss the terror of driving over a large block of ice or snow. Hitting the surprisingly-solid obstacle can cause crazy damage to the bottom of your vehicle.
If you run over a large amount of snow, ice, or another object obscured by snow (i.e. a curb or median), then you may be in luck. Overall, most comprehensive and collision policies cover running over or colliding with an object, regardless of whose fault it is.
If your vehicle has been damaged by running something over in the snow, it’s worth giving your insurance company a call.
What have we learned today, class?
Well, if you live in a place commonly cursed by heavy ice and snow, you may want to opt for comprehensive insurance. At the end of the day, it’s the end-all-be-all of insurance policies and covers most snow-related incidents.
If you are just worried about accidents from snow and ice, you can go with liability or collision, but it won’t cover the cost of debris and heavy snow.
Luckily, according to Autoinsurance.org, the average cost for comprehensive insurance in Colorado is only $158.34. That may be worth your investment, especially if you live in the wintery woods.