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

Hit a pole? Your car insurance policy might cover that.

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We've all done it before; accidentally hit the accelerator instead of the brake and ran into a pole that you swear wasn't there before. The good news is that if you've got comprehensive cover you'll probably be covered for any damages.

If you've got comprehensive car insurance you'll probably be covered.

You might not be covered if you don't have comprehensive cover.

Protect future-you. Compare comprehensive car insurance.

Name Product Roadside Assistance Accidental Damage Storm Choice of Repairer Agreed or Market Value
Budget Direct Comprehensive
Optional
Optional
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: Awarded the 2019 Finder Award for the Best Value Car Insurance, this policy offers solid coverage at a low cost. Budget Direct’s claims service has received a 4.2/5 based on nearly 5,000 customer reviews.

Who it might be good for: People who want a comprehensive policy without breaking the bank.
Bingle Comprehensive
Market
Finder's summary:Bingle consistently comes up as one of the cheaper insurers out there. It only covers the basics, so you don't get to choose your own repairer, you're not covered for personal items in the car and unless you add it as an option, you won't get a hire car if your car is stolen. But this keeps its premiums low.

Who it might be good for: Someone who wants a low-cost option that covers them for the basics.
Coles Comprehensive
Optional
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: Coles have two-tiers of comprehensive car insurance to choose from. You'll earn double flybuys points at Coles supermarkets and you can get $10 off your Coles grocery bill every time you redeem 2,000 Flybuys points. If you're over 30, you can get roadside assistance free for a year.

Who it might be good for: Coles customers and Flybuys collectors.
Virgin Comprehensive
Optional
Optional
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: Finalists for the 2019 Finder Awards for Best Value Car Insurance, Virgin Comprehensive provides a good level of cover for a decent price. Get 15% off on your first year’s premium when you purchase a new eligible comprehensive car insurance online. T&Cs Apply.
Poncho Comprehensive
Agreed
Finder's summary: Poncho works like a monthly subscription – you pay monthly and can cancel and leave at any time. You can also list multiple cars and drivers under one policy, making it ideal for families and groups living together under one household.

Who it might be good for: People who want their car insurance month to month.
Youi Comprehensive
Optional
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: Youi Comprehensive Car Insurance is one of the few providers to include roadside assistance in its policy. You'll also get access to YouiRewards which gives you discounts on furniture, parking and more. Youi also has a live chat feature on its site to talk through any questions.

Who it might be good for: People over 25 who want comprehensive cover with a focus on customer service
Qantas Comprehensive
Optional
Optional
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: You'll be able to pick and choose how comprehensive you want your cover to be with optional extras like roadside assistance, choice of your own repairer and the option of agreed or market value. Plus earn Qantas Points for joining and paying your premium. Sign up by 28 February 2021, you can earn up to 40,000 Qantas Points (points awarded will be based on your premium). T&Cs and eligibility apply.

Who it might be good for: People who love collecting frequent flyer points.
Stella Comprehensive
Optional
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: Stella’s a female-focused insurer. It'll cover you if your car is damaged as a result of domestic violence. It offers higher cover for baby gear than most, with up to $2,000 cover for prams, strollers and child seats. You get a free Bauer magazine subscription when you sign up and a portion of your premiums go to supporting female-led businesses.

Who it might be good for: Someone who wants a female-centred car insurance policy (it will cover men too).
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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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