Color of Money: Insurance Guide: The ‘Hit’ List

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  • WASHINGTON — Twice in the last few years a deer has hit my car.

    Yes, I meant to say the deer hit me. The animals bolted from a wooded area into my path (only one survived).

    Turns out a lot of the damage done to cars in this country isn’t from colliding with another automobile. Two-car accidents make up less than half of all incidents, according to an analysis by, which provides insurance advice and online quote comparisons. looked at data submitted by more than 42,000 car insurance shoppers. As shoppers compared rates for liability, comprehensive and collision policies, they reported their previous accidents. From that data, the website compiled its top “hit” list.
    “We buy auto insurance because we envision two cars careening toward each other and screeching brakes,” said managing editor Des Toups. “But more than a third of all incidents involve things like a parked car, the weather, vandalism, hitting animals or road debris.”
    The percentage of people who struck another car or were struck was about 45 percent. But here’s a breakdown for other accidents:

    — Single-car accident: 7.9 percent.
    — Act of nature such as flood, hail or fallen tree: 5.8 percent.
    — Struck a parked car or tree: 5.4 percent.
    — Car struck while parked: 5 percent.
    — Debris or other non-accident damage (such as hitting a pothole):
    2.9 percent.
    — Vandalism: 2.4 percent.
    — Struck animal: 2.4 percent.
    — Windshield or glass: 2.2 percent.
    — Theft of car/theft of parts: 1.5 percent
    — Hit a pedestrian: 0.4 percent

    Some shoppers weren’t sure how to classify their accidents such as hitting a mailbox, so those incidents were not included on the list. Toups said when you’re shopping based on price alone, it’s easy to neglect to ask important questions such as “Will this policy cover the damage I am most likely to encounter?”

    “If you write a check every month, you tend to believe you’re covered,” Toups said. “After all, you bought insurance. But many people, maybe most, don’t really know what they’ve bought.”

    Although a deer running into our car might do the same amount of damage as hitting a tree, it’s the collision with the tree that is more likely to trigger an increase in your car insurance rates because it’s classified as a collision claim, Toups said.

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