I was on an insurance discussion board recently and saw the following question (paraphrased):

“My son was working on his car with the hood up. A storm blew in suddenly and a gust of wind pushed his hood back, bending the hinges on the hood and hitting the windshield. The repair estimate is $1,700. I assumed this was a comprehensive claim (windstorm damage) but the Esurance adjuster says the hood collided with the windshield and it was our fault for not securing the hood, so the collision deductible applies. I was also told that this will raise the rate just like an at-fault accident, so it’s better not to file the claim?”

Since I don’t have a copy of the Esurance policy, I can only comment on the ISO PAP language which defines “Collision” as:

“[T]he upset of “your covered auto” or a “non-owned auto” or their impact with another vehicle or object.

Note that “collision” requires impact with “ANOTHER…object.” While I don’t have it at my fingertips, my past review of similar claims found case law that says that a vehicle cannot collide with itself. Both the hood and windshield are part of the subject vehicle, so the auto did not strike ANOTHER vehicle or object. If that logic is sound, then we look to the Other Than Collision coverage which includes a partial list of perils defined to be “other than ‘collision’,” including “windstorm.”

Again, I have no idea what the Esurance policy says. BUT, if it is worded like the ISO PAP, then this loss should be covered as a comprehensive claim.

The comp vs. collision debate comes up often. One way around it (aside from the issue of rate chargeability) is to use the same deductible for both comp and collision because most often the issue surrounds the amount of the deductible, not whether there’s coverage. For examples of other claims, check out this article from the Big “I” Virtual University:

Is It Comp or Is It Collision?

If the Esurance policy has language comparable to the ISO form, yet the adjuster won’t back off his or her decision, what does the consumer do? At this point, probably nothing, but I bet if he had bought coverage through an agent, particularly an independent agent, who understands the intent of the form language, the agent would advocate on his behalf to get this classified as a comp claim. This is why auto insurance is not a commodity…the form language is often different and, even if it’s not, you can have alternative interpretations of identical language.

Caveat emptor!

Photo by Stephen Hennessey

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Bill Wilson

Founder at InsuranceCommentary.com
One of the premier insurance educators in America on form, coverage, and technical issues; Founder and director of the Big “I” Virtual University; Retired Assoc. VP of Education and Research from Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America. Reprint Request Information