Is falling asleep at the wheel covered by car insurance?

Insurance for falling asleep at the wheel is covered under a liability policy, but collision insurance is needed to cover any damage. If you have a condition causing drowsiness it's important to let your insurance provider know.

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Reviewed byJoel Ohman
Founder, CFP®

UPDATED: Jul 8, 2020

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Here's what you need to know...

  • Falling asleep at the wheel should be covered under a liability policy
  • Collision insurance may need to be purchased to cover damage to your car
  • Be sure the policy is in good standing to increase the likelihood of the insurance claim being approved
  • Do everything to avoid falling asleep at the wheel

Driving comes with risks. Once a vehicle pulls out on the road, the potential for being the victim of or causing an accident is a possibility. Accidents can even happen in one’s own driveway.

Because of the risks inherent with operating a moving vehicle, smart drivers buy quality insurance policies. Comparing a series of quotes to find the best possible coverage definitely, can lead to being covered when at fault for a dire accident.

Liability coverage is vast, but some may wonder if there are limitations. Yes, limitations do exist. Someone who purposely uses their vehicle in a deliberate attempt to commit vehicular manslaughter is not going to find an insurance company willing to settle a wrongful death suit.

A great many disastrous accidents occur when a driver did not intend to cause harm. Accidents are called “accidents” for a reason.

Sometimes, the reason can be something as unexpected as falling asleep at the wheel. In the aftermath of such an accident, the driver may wonder if falling asleep at the wheel can be covered under an insurance policy.

In general, this would be something covered by an insurance policy as long as other circumstances do not lead the insurer to deny the claim.

If you want to be fully covered in case of an accident and need better auto insurance, compare at least three to four policies today! Enter your ZIP code above to begin!

An Extreme Calamity

What happens if you fall asleep at the wheel? Falling asleep at the wheel of a car is going to rarely lead to a minor accident. The chances of a head-on collision, going through a red light at a busy intersection, and veering off the road and hitting a tree or a pedestrian are three potential grave scenarios.

The sad truth here is a driver who falls asleep at the wheel may be very lucky to survive such a disaster. Those who are able to live through a serious accident may be fully reliant on an insurance policy to protect against impending litigation.

Will there be coverage?

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Liability Claims and Approved Settlements

Answering whether or not an auto insurance policy will cover losses incurred due to falling asleep at the wheel is not something that can be stated with complete certainty. An investigation is standard practice after an accident, and the insurance company may or may not approve the claim.

In general, falling asleep at the wheel would be something covered under a standard liability policy. Anyone whose claim is denied due to bad faith may be able to file suit against the insurance company. If no violations of the policy occurred, the chances of payment increase.

Liability coverage does provide protection against a tremendous range of scenarios in which the insured driver is at-fault for an accident.

Insurance companies are only responsible for paying up to the limits of coverage. Someone who only pays for the state minimum of liability coverage is going to be in an awkward financial position if being sued for $500,000.

Maxing out coverage and buying an additional umbrella policy is suggested for those who are worried about being sued for huge damages. A person whose net worth is $700,00 seriously compare auto policies and umbrella policies to maximize protection.

Just buying an auto insurance policy without truly acquiring an appropriate amount of financial protection would be a terrible idea.

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Avoiding Problems and Catastrophes

Would it not be better to avoid falling asleep at the wheel rather than dozing off and getting into a serious accident?

Anyone who feels they are too tired to drive should understand being too tired creates an unsafe situation. Calling a cab or a ride-sharing service may be a better plan.

Driving for too long on the roads without rest is risky. Taking stimulants capable of causing a crash or using any prescription or OTC medicine noting it can “cause drowsiness” before driving are all unwise. The risks of falling asleep and crashing increase.

Those who are driving and feel themselves dozing off really should pull off the road. Driving in an impaired — yes, excessive sleepiness is an impairment — is hazardous to be sure.

Medical Conditions, Disclosure, and Insurance Policies

Things become a bit complicated when suffering from a medical condition capable of causing drowsiness and falling asleep at the wheel. Disclosing such information to an insurance company and responding to fundamental questions about treatment could be helpful.

A more accurate risk assessment can be performed by the insurance underwriter and an appropriate policy charge affixed. Full disclosure may eliminate problems if the time comes when a settlement is needed.

Disclosing risks prior to a claim being filed on the policy has benefits. If the insurer states the policy would not have been approved if the risk was known, this could be the basis for not honoring the policy.

If the person seeking an auto policy is required to shop elsewhere or purchase a higher-risk policy, so be it. The key here is the policy must be ironclad and not one capable of being deemed null and void.

Take this as another reason to perform serious comparison shopping. While one insurance company may choose to turn an applicant down or approve the application at a high cost, another company may be willing to issue a policy at a reasonable price.

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The Collision Issue

So far, the discussion about auto insurance has focused solely on liability. Liability refers to any damage caused to another person or to physical property belonging to others.

Someone who falls asleep at the wheel and damages their vehicle cannot file a claim based on auto liability.

The claim would need to be filed under collision coverage.

With a collision coverage, the insurer would pay for damages inflicted upon the insured’s vehicle less the deductible amount. The deductible can range from, say, $500 to $2000. The lower the cost of the coverage, the higher the deductible will be.

Owners of new or relatively new cars should carry collision and, possibly, comprehensive insurance. Cars do depreciate over time.

Newer cars come with greater resale value so purchasing additional insurance to cover losses makes sense. When a car is not worth very much, the extra coverage could be unnecessary.

Of course, getting extra coverage is dependent on the cost of the insurance, the remaining value of the car, and the owner’s preferences.

If a $1,400 car is totaled, the insurance company would likely pay $900 less a $500 deductible. $900 is better than receiving nothing at all.

Falling asleep at the wheel of a car should be covered under an auto insurance policy. Once again, taking precautions to avoid falling asleep at the wheel is the best strategy. Also, shop for the best auto insurance policy available.

Looking for better, more affordable car insurance? Enter your ZIP code below and start comparison shopping today!

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