Is falling asleep at the wheel covered by car insurance?

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Rachel Bodine

Insurance Feature Writer

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...

Insurance Feature Writer

Eric Stauffer

Licensed Insurance Agent

Eric Stauffer is an insurance agent and banker-turned-consumer advocate. His priority is educating individuals and families about the different types of insurance coverage. He is passionate about helping consumers find the best coverage for their budgets and personal needs. Eric is the CEO of C Street Media, a full-service marketing firm and the co-founder of, a financial educat...

Licensed Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Mar 4, 2024

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Just the Basics

  • Insurance can cover damages and injuries caused when you fall asleep behind the wheel
  • Collision coverage can cover any damage to your car
  • You may still be found criminally liable for the accident

Does car insurance cover falling asleep at the wheel? If you’ve got a good car insurance policy, you can feel better knowing that you are covered for liability and repairs. However, just because you have car insurance coverage doesn’t mean you won’t still be responsible for any criminal liability due to the accident. In addition, as one of the factors that will affect the price of car insurance, claims can cause your rates to go up. (For more information, read our “Filing a Car Insurance Claim After an Accident“).

The laws and coverage rules can be confusing for this situation, but we are here to clarify. We’ll explain what coverage applies when you fall asleep while driving.

Read on to find out how car insurance covers falling asleep at the wheel. Enter your ZIP code into our free quote tool to compare free quotes for car insurance today.

Is falling asleep at the wheel covered by car insurance?

When you have an accident because you fell asleep at the wheel, you’ll likely need repairs on your vehicle. You could also cause injuries or property damage to others. In the worst-case scenario, you could cause a fatal accident. In and of these situations, you need a car insurance policy that covers your vehicle and liability for damage and injuries that you cause while out on the road.  While a liability policy is enough to cover any property damage and personal injury you cause with your vehicle, you may not have enough coverage for all of the damage.

Just because your car insurance will cover you when you’ve been in an accident doesn’t mean you’re free from the repercussions of falling asleep at the wheel. If anyone has been hurt, you could still face a lawsuit or criminal charges. It does not matter what the original intent of driving was, as there are ramifications to risks.

What can happen when you fall asleep at the wheel?

No matter how much caffeine you consume, eventually, your body’s need for sleep will catch up with you. Driving when you are tired or sleepy is very risky. It makes you a danger to yourself and anyone else on the road around you. You run the risk of running into someone else or going off the road, damaging property, and potentially causing injury or death.

The repercussions of falling asleep being the wheel are serious. You’ll be the one responsible for the repair costs and medical bills for anyone that is hurt. Your car insurance policy will cover some of the liability expenses but isn’t guaranteed to pay all of them.

Furthermore, there may be charges related to falling asleep while driving that could result in fines or even jail time. If you think you may fall asleep at the wheel because of a late night of drinking, it is always better to get a ride from a sober friend.

Your liability coverage will kick in to pay for property damage as well as injuries that are caused when you fall asleep while driving. It will pay up to the limits of your policy.

While liability coverage is required in almost every state, collision coverage costs a little more but can help cover your vehicle. If you fell asleep at the wheel and crashed, the accident is your fault. In that case, you need collision coverage. Collision will pay to repair your car, even when you are at fault. However, you will likely have to pay your deductible before the insurance company starts paying.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, the average cost for collision insurance is about $290 per year. This insurance coverage is surprisingly affordable given the number of things it will protect your vehicle against.

How will falling asleep at the wheel affect your insurance rates?

If you fall asleep at the wheel and get into an accident, a couple of things could happen that could raise your rates. After the accident, you’ll see your rates go up if:

  • File a claim that results in payment
  • Are found at fault for the accident
  • Get a ticker or face any criminal charges and are found guilty

If your insurance company starts to view you as a risk, then you’re likely to have to pay more for your car insurance policy to cover the risk of you falling asleep at the wheel again. Over time good driving can bring your rates back down.

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Can you go to jail for falling asleep at the wheel?

Maybe not for falling asleep behind the wheel by itself, and if it’s only your vehicle that is harmed in an accident. However, injury or property damage that happens due to you falling asleep at the wheel may cause you to get into legal trouble. You can be held financially responsible for the injuries. You could also face criminal charges. To avoid this happening, you need to do everything you can to avoid falling asleep at the wheel.

If there are any drugs or alcohol in your system that caused you to fall asleep behind the wheel, you will be charged with a DUI. If someone is injured or dies, you will likely face even more serious charges and potential jail time.

How can you avoid falling asleep at the wheel?

It’s essential to be aware of yourself and how you feel when you’re driving. Falling asleep behind the wheel can have disastrous consequences and even cause the loss of life. To stay awake behind the wheel, some tips you can follow include:

  • Get good sleep at night
  • Don’t begin a long trip when tired
  • Notice how you’re feeling
  • Pull over if you are sleepy

Don’t start a road trip without any sleep, and make sure you get some caffeine. However, don’t rely on caffeine to keep you awake. Simply don’t drive if you are sleepy. Taking the proper steps to ensure that you don’t fall asleep on the road will help ensure that those around you can safely get to their destinations.

What if I have a medical condition that makes me tired?

If you’re driving with narcolepsy or another condition that makes you suddenly tired, you should discuss your eligibility to continue operating a vehicle with your doctor. To get a driver’s license in the first place, you’ll likely need a signed statement from your doctor that states your medical condition is well under control. Unless you are cleared by a doctor to drive, don’t get behind the wheel.

Falling Asleep at the Wheel and Auto Insurance: The Bottom Line

When you fall asleep at the wheel, you can cause a serious accident that may involve injury or death. To avoid this, you should recognize when you’re tired and find a way to get somewhere safe or stay awake long enough to get to your destination. Also, if you think you might have a medical condition that makes you tired, it’s worth discussing it with your doctor to see if you can get treatment and start driving again.

Hopefully, you understand how auto insurance covers falling asleep at the wheel. Enter your ZIP code into our free quote tool to compare rates for car insurance from top companies now.

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