Survey: Top Ways Cars Are Damaged

A new analysis by reveals that the familiar two-car accident made up less than half of all incidents reported by car insurance shoppers.

The analysis drew on data submitted by more than 42,000 car insurance shoppers who listed previous incidents as they compared rates for liability, comprehensive and collision policies.

“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.”

Types of problems reported among drivers with previous incidents:

  • Struck another car: 22.7%                                                   
  • Another car struck me: 22.2%
  • Single-car accident: 7.9%
  • Act of nature: 5.8%
  • Struck parked car or tree: 5.4%
  • Car struck while parked: 5.0%
  • Debris or other non-accident damage (such as hitting a pothole): 2.9%
  • Vandalism: 2.4%
  • Struck animal: 2.4%
  • Windshield or glass: 2.2%
  • Theft of car/theft of parts: 1.5%
  • Hit a pedestrian: 0.4%

Each type of accident may affect insurance rates differently as well.
“Hitting a deer and hitting a tree might do the same amount of damage,” Toups said. “But hitting a tree is more likely to raise your car insurance rates because it’s a collision claim.”’s new Crash-o-Matic tool lets drivers click on six common accident scenarios to see what kind of insurance coverage would be needed to pay for damage. The Crash-o-Matic also allows readers to compare sample rates for liability, comprehensive and collision coverage on a selection of 2013 model year vehicles.

“Liability insurance alone will never repair your car,” Toups said. “We hear from readers daily who falsely assumed they were covered in a crash. The economic shock can be devastating.”

Methodology examined more than 42,000 online car insurance quotes delivered from Sept. 1, 2011, to Feb. 5, 2013, for collision, comprehensive and liability insurance on single-vehicle policies where users reported an incident in the preceding five years.

Related article: What Types of Damage Are Recoverable in Car Rental?

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