Is falling asleep at the wheel covered by car insurance?

Getting into an accident after falling asleep at the wheel is covered by car insurance in many instances, as long as you have the right kinds of coverage. If you have a sleep condition, you must be honest with your insurer about this ahead of time. Learn the details.

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Rachel Bodine graduated from college with a BA in English. She has since worked as a Feature Writer in the insurance industry and gained a deep knowledge of state and countrywide insurance laws and rates. Her research and writing focus on helping readers understand their insurance coverage and how to find savings. Her expert advice on insurance has been featured on sites like PhotoEnforced, All...

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Written by Rachel Bodine
Feature Writer Rachel Bodine

Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years (BBB A+). He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like Reviews.com and Safeco. He reviews content, ensuring that ex...

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent Daniel Walker

UPDATED: Jun 10, 2022

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Things to remember...

  • Falling asleep while driving may be covered by your auto insurance
  • Communicating with your insurer about your high-risk factors is important
  • Filing a claim for a sleep-related accident could increase rates by up to 82%

If you have a health condition or disability that could affect your driving, you might have important questions about your insurance, such as, “Am I still covered if I fall asleep at the wheel?”

Falling asleep while driving is fairly common, but not regularly addressed in insurance advertisements. Reasons for driving in this state can vary, from over-exhaustion to recognized diagnoses, such as narcolepsy. Depending on the reasons for falling asleep behind the wheel, your insurance may cover you in the case of an accident.

Falling Asleep While Driving and Insurance

If you fall asleep and are involved in an accident, the police will make a report that will be communicated to the insurance company. If they note that this was a sleep-induced accident, there is a chance that the insurance company could object to payment, unless it was aware that you had a sleep-related condition beforehand.

A real key here is honesty. In most cases, your insurance company will cover your claim for an accident caused by sleepiness if you have disclosed your health condition, and you are in good standing as a policyholder. On the other hand, those who are caught misrepresenting the details and facts surrounding an accident stand the chance of having the claim be questioned or even denied. 

In any case, filing a claim for an accident caused by falling asleep will drive your rates up significantly, even as much as 82%.

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What type of insurance coverage do I need for a sleep condition?

If you are at risk of falling asleep while driving, it is essential to have the right insurance coverage in place, starting with collision and liability insurance. 

Collision Insurance

Collision insurance will help cover any damage to your own vehicle in the event of an accident, even if you are at fault. Once the deductible is met, the rest of the expenses for the vehicle damage would be covered by the insurer.

Liability Insurance

If you have a sleep-related condition, you may need more than the state-required minimum liability insurance to cover any damages made to other people or property. But just what is liability insurance?

Bodily injury liability coverage is specific to any expenses incurred by the other injured party, including lost wages and medical bills. If the other driver’s vehicle is damaged, or another person’s property is affected adversely by the accident, you will need property damage liability coverage as well.

Now, if you have a sleep-related condition, you may find yourself having to purchase nonstandard insurance.

An insurance company may insist that you purchase nonstandard, or high-risk, auto insurance if you pose a higher risk of getting into an accident and filing a claim. Sleep conditions certainly fall into this category. 

A person who has one or more drunk driving convictions, or who has earned many speeding tickets, or tickets for excessive speeding, could also qualify for this designation. While it still may grant you the coverage you need, count on higher rates in these scenarios.

What is narcolepsy?

Narcolepsy is a recognized condition characterized by a tendency to fall asleep when in relaxing scenarios. People with narcolepsy can fall asleep even while engaged in conversation or while reading, as well as during potentially dangerous activities, such as driving and working. 

Because narcolepsy can have a deleterious effect on not only the individual but on others around them, insurance rates may be higher for those who disclose this condition. However, being upfront about your condition can help you keep your license and ensure that your insurance coverage is adequate in the event of an accident.

Other Reasons for Falling Asleep While Driving

Of course, other non-specific causes can induce sleepy driving as well. Who hasn’t been on the highway late at night, or after many hours behind the wheel, and begun to drift off to sleep due to simple exhaustion? For this reason, long-haul truckers must log their hours and be careful not to exceed the maximum number of consecutive hours driving, lest they face a ticket.

Insomnia, sleep apnea, jet lag, and alcohol and drug use are other potential causes of falling asleep while driving. While some of these things are legitimate reasons that are not attached to improper behavior, driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a different kind of trouble. Though most insurance policies will cover things like accident-involved DUIs, the amount they will pay, as well as the modification of rates, depends on the particular insurance company, the driver’s specific coverage policy, and the laws of the state in which the accident occurred.

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Plans for Dealing With Sleep-Inducing Driving Conditions

The proper diagnosis, treatment, and planning are essential for keeping yourself, and others on the road, safe. First, work with an insurance provider to make sure you are covered in the event of an accident due to sleepy driving. If you are weary at the wheel, consider doing the following to avoid an accident:

  • Avoid driving if you are on medication that could make you drowsy
  • If you catch yourself nodding off, pull over and find a safe place to rest
  • Call a rideshare company to take you the rest of the way

Distracted or sleepy driving is dangerous. Remind yourself, even if you’re crunched for time, that a wreck will only make things worse.

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