Does car insurance cover falling asleep at the wheel?

Does car insurance cover falling asleep at the wheel? Usually it does. But your insurance company may not want to pay if you caused an accident after driving while asleep. It’s more likely they’ll pay damages if an accident was someone else’s fault. One of the repercussions of falling asleep at the wheel is it can raise your auto insurance by up to 82%.

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D. Gilson is a writer and author of essays, poetry, and scholarship that explore the relationship between popular culture, literature, sexuality, and memoir. His latest book is Jesus Freak, with Will Stockton, part of Bloomsbury’s 33 1/3 Series. His other books include I Will Say This Exactly One Time and Crush. His first chapbook, Catch & Release, won the 2012 Robin Becker Prize from Seve...

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Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insuranc...

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Reviewed by Leslie Kasperowicz
Farmers CSR for 4 Years

UPDATED: May 21, 2021

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The Highlights

  • If you are in an accident after you fell asleep at the wheel but it’s not your fault, it’s more likely an insurer will pay for your damages
  • After an incident involving falling asleep, you will be considered a high-risk driver, and your rates could go up by 82%
  • You should tell your insurance company if you have conditions like sleep apnea that make falling asleep more likely

Does car insurance cover falling asleep at the wheel? Your car insurance can cover you if you are in an accident, but it depends on why you fell asleep while driving.

Although some people may have conditions that cause them to fall asleep behind the wheel, others may do so simply because they are tired. Driving while drowsy is actually very common, and 50% of drivers admit to doing it. 

It’s best to be completely sure you have sufficient coverage in the event of a car accident to protect both yourself and anyone else involved.

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Collision Coverage and Liability Car Insurance

A claim for damaging your own vehicle in a collision caused by falling asleep at the wheel would fall under collision coverage.

In most cases, once you have this, your insurance will cover falling asleep at the wheel. However, if you have only the minimum liability insurance the damage to your car will not be covered.  

If you are injured, your insurance company may also cover your treatment if you have medical payments coverage.

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Can You Get a Ticket for Falling Asleep at the Wheel?

Yes, you can get a ticket for falling asleep at the wheel. While there is no particular law or part of the vehicle code that covers falling asleep at the wheel, that doesn’t mean a sleepy driver can get away with it.

In New Jersey in particular, there is a law against drowsy driving, called Maggie’s Law. In other states, most drivers who fall asleep behind the wheel face charges of reckless driving. The second offence they can be charged with is vehicular manslaughter if anyone is killed.

If you are caught, you can be charged with reckless driving. If this happens, your insurance company may not cover you. This is because it’s seen as a preventable accident that could have been avoided by acting responsibly.

Getting Into an Accident After Falling Asleep at the Wheel

There are a couple of common scenarios that happen after you fall asleep at the wheel. 

Damage to Property

If you’ve crashed into private property, you may have to pay for the damage. That’s where your insurance coverage comes in. Liability coverage will cover damage to someone else’s property.

All auto policies are required to have property damage liability. 

Someone was injured or died

There is a possibility that the driver who fell asleep can be charged with reckless driving for an injury, or vehicular manslaughter for a death. Reckless driving is usually a misdemeanor criminal offense.

Your car insurance will not have you avoid going to jail if you are found guilty.

If the conviction for reckless driving goes on your record, your car insurance premiums will go up.  

Avoiding Serious Issues

If you want to avoid the repercussions of falling asleep at the wheel, there are things you can do to avoid it.

Preventing distracted driving and drowsy driving is better than possibly causing an accident. Some of the things you can do include

  • Calling a rideshare or taxi service if you feel drowsy
  • Avoid medication that has “drowsiness” as a side effect
  • Pull off the road and park in a safe location

Drowsy drivers show the same symptoms as drunk drivers, which can lead to accidents. If you fell asleep at the wheel and crashed, having the best possible insurance is vital.

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Frequently Asked Questions: Insurance and falling asleep behind the wheel

Although we have discussed insurance and falling asleep at the wheel thoroughly in this post, there may still be a few questions that come up.

Here are a selection of the most frequently asked questions about the consequences of falling asleep at the wheel or insurance related to falling asleep at the wheel.

#1 – How can I be sure my insurance covers me when I fall asleep at the wheel?

The best way is by being truthful with your insurance company about the circumstances of any incident while you were asleep. This includes disclosing any medical conditions.

#2– Will my insurance cover me if I fall asleep at the wheel due to a medical condition?

The best thing to do is to get checked and diagnosed so you can get treatment for your problem. Being open with your insurance company is in your best interest. 

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