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Will my car insurance cover me if I hit a pole?

Find out under what circumstances you would be able to make a claim.

Hit a tree, drive into a pole, run into a fence, wall or anything else solid enough, and you might be looking at serious damage to your car, and possibly your health.

Whether your car insurance will cover the accident depends on your policy, and the situation.

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Name Product New Car Replacement Pay monthly at no extra cost Choice of repairer Roadside Assistance Hire car after theft Personal effects
Optional - If your car is written off in the first 3 years
No
No
No
Optional - Up to $50 a day until your claim is settled
$0.00
Save 24% on your policy if you've been claim free for 3 years.
Yes - If your car is written off in the first 2 years or is under 40,000 km
No
Yes
Optional
Yes - Up to $1,000 (Max 14 days)
$250.00
Buy online and save 15%.
Yes - If your car is written off or stolen in the first 2 years
No
Yes
Yes
Yes - Reasonable costs (Max 14 days)
$750.00
Emergency roadside assistance included in Comprehensive policies.
Yes - If your car is written off in the first 2 years
No
No
Optional
Yes - Up to $70 per day (Max 14 days)
$500.00
Save up to 10% when you buy online.
Yes - If your car is written off in the first 2 years or is under 40,000 km
No
Yes
Optional
Yes - Up to $1,000 (Max 14 days)
$500.00
Save 15% when purchasing online. Eligible customers can earn 5,000 Velocity Frequent Flyer Points when purchasing a new policy by 31 Dec 2018. Excludes NT. T&CS apply.
Yes - If your car is written off in the first 2 years
Yes
No
No
Yes - Up to $70 per day (Max 14 days)
$500.00
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Yes - If your car is written off in the first 2 years
Yes
Yes
No
Yes - Up to $100 per day (Max 30 days)
$1,000.00
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Yes - If your car is written off in the first year or is under 20,000 km
No
No
Optional
Optional - Up to $60 per day (Max 14 days)
$500.00
Save up to 20% on car insurance when you purchase cover online.

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Which policies cover this type of damage?

Generally, the only kind of policy that will pay out for this kind of accident is comprehensive car insurance.

The only circumstances where cheaper third-party fire and theft car insurance will generally cover you are if:

  • a thief stole your car and then drove it into a tree, a pole or other solid object; or
  • an uninsured driver, without third-party insurance of their own, was responsible for you running into the pole.

If you have comprehensive car insurance then it should cover the cost of repairs to your car, in line with the policy terms.

For example, your policy will probably cover the cost if you accidentally skidded on a wet road, despite driving prudently; or if you had to swerve to avoid a kangaroo.

However, you probably won’t be able to make a claim if you hit the pole because you were driving whilst drunk, or even if you were driving sober but refused to take a drug or alcohol test at the scene of the accident.

Would I have to pay for damage to the pole?

It depends on who the pole belongs to and the exact circumstances of the crash, but typically yes, you will have to pay for the damage.

Fortunately, your car insurance should cover the cost, thanks to “third-party liability insurance”, which is included with all the main types of car insurance.

In this case, the “third party” refers to whoever owns the pole, and “liability” refers to your obligation to pay for the damage.

What should I do after an accident?

If you’ve been involved in an accident you should take the following steps:

  • Assess the situation. If it’s serious, for example if someone is injured, or you hit an electricity pole and caused a blackout, then you should call emergency services.
  • Gather information: Record any information that will be required. If reasonable to do so, write down the details of the accident while it’s fresh in your mind and take photos, or have someone take them for you.
  • Decide who to call: Call emergency services first if necessary. You should also call your insurer as soon as reasonably possible. The insurer can usually arrange a tow truck, approve the cost of towing if needed, and may also be able to approve necessary repairs quickly.
  • Wait at the scene: Unless it is unsafe, you shouldn’t leave the scene until towing has been arranged. If your car is damaged you shouldn’t attempt to drive it away. Doing so might cause further damage and jeopardise your claim.

Will I be fined?

Generally not; car accidents themselves are not a fineable offence. However, the driving that causes them might be. If you do get fined after running into a pole or a tree it’s probably for the traffic infringement that led to the accident, rather than the accident itself. Fines are not covered by car insurance.

You won’t be “fined” for damage to the pole, tree or other property either, but you might be held liable for the cost of repair. This will generally be covered by third-party property car insurance.

Am I covered if I hit road debris?

Yes. Hitting road debris can be covered in the same way as hitting a pole.

The main difference is that if you hit road debris, it’s probably less likely to be your fault than hitting a tree. It’s possible that whoever was responsible for it being on the road might be held liable, in which case their third-party car insurance may pay for the damage to your vehicle.

However, this can only happen if the person responsible can be identified. If not, you might have to make an “at fault” claim, as you would if you drove into a tree.


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Andrew Munro

Andrew writes for finder.com, comparing products, writing guides and looking for new ways to help people make smart decisions. He's a fan of insurance, business news and cryptocurrency.

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