My insurance company is charging me with an accident while i maintain that it should not be considered an accident. I did not strike an object.

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Mar 13, 2019

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Insurance Question from East Floyd, NY

Asked on 03/13/2019

My insurance company is charging me with an accident while i maintain that it should not be considered an accident. I did not strike an object. At 7pm (dark) on a 30 MPH county road I was driving down a short incline which included a few bends in the roadway. The road leads out of my small town of Holland Patent that i travel frequently. As the road straightened out, at the bottom of this slight incline was a pot hole approximately the cicumfrence of a manhole cover, at its center measuring at least 6 inches deep. At night it was impossible to see. I drove into it causing 2 flat tires, bent rims etc. My insurance company gave me a check for 1600 dollars and i got it repaired. The adjuster referred to the incident as "hitting road debris" and charged me with an accident. It was not debris sitting on the surface of the road it was a deep pothole that blended in with the roadway and impossible to see and avoid. I took a photo of it before the town repaired it with blacktop. Shouldnt this be considered a comprehensive rather than an accident claim? Thank you in advance. Chris Maloy

Answer given on March 21, 2019

Automobile insurance for damages to a car are considered under two areas – collision and comprehensive. The automobile policy defines both in the actual automobile policy. Collision includes striking a vehicle, stationary object or an obstruction in the road. This would include your collision with the pot hole. Unfortunately the inability to see or know the pot hole was there does not change the fact that you “collided” with an object that damaged your vehicle. 

You could attempt to recover your deductible, and even the entire amount of damage, from the county, city or state agency that maintains this road. Sometimes you can get reimbursement from them, although it is not an easy process and they will do their best to not pay for the damages. If you succeed, you can see if your insurance company will remove the surcharge for the accident since they would be reimbursed and the agency had accepted full responsibility.

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