Does auto insurance cover road debris?

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Jessica Sautter is a Content Writer for with a Bachelor’s Degree from Eastern Michigan University in Elementary Education with a Major in Reading and a Minor in...

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Chris Harrigan has an economy degree from Limestone College and an MBA from Clemson University. He previously managed auto insurance claims for Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Currently, he is using his business and insurance expertise...

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Reviewed byChris Harrigan
Former Insurance Claims Manager

UPDATED: Sep 14, 2017

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Key takeaways...
  • Road debris has the potential to cause a lot of damage
  • Damages from road debris is often the fault of the driver
  • Insurance will cover damages if you have sufficient coverage

When you’re driving down the road and you hear something hit your car, it’s likely road debris.

It’s important to know whether your auto insurance covers the damages. Otherwise, you could be paying out-of-pocket to repair any damages.

If you’re concerned about encountering road debris and possible damage to your car, compare at least three to four policies today to ensure you are fully covered! Enter your ZIP code above to begin!

What is road debris?

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Road debris is made up of many different items on the road. There might be rocks, shredded tires, and various forms of trash sitting in traffic lanes.

Often, the debris gathers into the middle lanes. It is pushed from both directions until it gathers in one spot. Then, it is up to road cleanup crews to get rid of the debris. In the meantime, it is an obstacle that you could end up hitting.

Some road debris is a result of residential and commercial vehicles not securing their loads. They hit a bump or a high speed, and their furniture, lumber, or other items come crashing down onto the road.

Other debris is because of the state of the road, such as potholes, loose gravel, and more.

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Who is at fault?

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When your car gets damaged from road debris, you have to look at who is at fault. If the debris came directly from another vehicle, the driver of that other vehicle is at fault.

However, if they do not stop, then it is often considered a hit and run. Additionally, if the debris hits the road first and then your car, you start to get into a gray area as to whether they are really at fault or not.

In most instances, damage from road debris is considered to be your fault since you hit the debris; the debris did not hit you.

If road debris is a result of negligence, such as the government not managing the roads, then they might technically be at fault. The problem is that many state and municipal governments have immunity from claims of negligence.

Filing a lawsuit would be a waste of time which is why insurance companies look at the damages as an “at fault” scenario and move on.

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Tips for Dealing with Road Debris

If you experience road debris, you should file a claim with your car insurance. They will be able to look at the event, the damage, and your coverage to determine whether they will cover the repairs.

You will be assigned to an adjuster, and they will walk you through the whole process.

There are some tips to help you get sufficient auto insurance as well as to avoid road debris incidents in the future.

– Obtain the Right Coverage


Comprehensive coverage takes care of all “non-collision” accidents, including accidents where you are at fault. Getting this coverage is easy, and you can obtain quotes from multiple insurance companies.

If road debris hits you as a result of another vehicle and they don’t stop, you need to file a claim against the other vehicle. However, you don’t have the other driver’s insurance information.

With uninsured motorist coverage, you would have the protection needed.

Your insurance company would accept the claim faster, and this allows you to get the necessary repairs to your car.

– Learn Defensive Driving


The goal should be to avoid hitting road debris in the first place. You need to learn defensive driving techniques.

Such techniques should be taught to you in Driver’s Ed. If it’s been a while since you’ve taken a driving class, you might want to take a new one.

You should also remember a few things:

  • Stay alert
  • Stay focused
  • Anticipate other drivers
  • Put away mobile devices
  • Follow the three-second rule

When you pay attention to the roads and have an escape route to avoid dangers on the road, you are less likely to get into an accident and have to file a claim with insurance.

Road debris is always on the road, and it’s often up to you whether you hit it or not.

If you do hit it, insurance will cover the damages in many instances if you have the coverage on your policy. Getting quotes online will help you see that adding coverage is not as expensive as you thought.

Looking to safeguard your car in case of road debris damage? Enter your ZIP code below and start comparison shopping for better auto insurance today!

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