Mailboxes get hit by cars regularly. Their proximity to the curb makes them prime targets for learner drivers, lawn services, snow plows, or even visitors backing out of yards after dark. Since there is a considerable size difference, mailboxes usually come off second best in these encounters.
If your mailbox gets hit by a car, the circumstances dictate the way forward. Like any other traffic accident, the incident must be reported to the police and the mailbox owner. Serious implications may result for drivers who do not notify the mailbox owner and leave the scene.
No two incidents are alike, and it can be confusing to know how to proceed if a hasty delivery van driver has flattened your mailbox or if your elderly aunt has bumped into your mailbox when coming to visit.
The claiming procedure is relatively straightforward in most cases, although you need to keep a few things in mind.
My Mailbox Was Hit By a Car
Like all traffic incidents, all the details of the incident are important. Do you know who was driving the car, did you see the incident occur, was it an accident, or was it intentional vandalism?
These, plus many more questions, will determine whether the incident was intentional or an accident. Usually, someone will know they have damaged a mailbox and may even sustain damage to their car.
There are times when your mailbox may be damaged, and the driver may be entirely unaware that they have caused any damage. This is often the case with large trucks like removal vehicles or snow plows that may cause damage by pushing too much snow up against the mailbox structure.
Unlike colliding with a tree or some other structure on a property, damaging a mailbox can have serious implications if the incident isn’t handled correctly. The property owner supplies a mailbox, but as soon as it is positioned to receive mail from the USPS, they are protected by federal law.
If your mailbox is damaged to the extent that it interferes with the mail delivery service, the first and most important thing is either replace the mailbox immediately or request a hold on your mail to give you time to fix it. The USPS will hold your mail safely at the Post Office for up to 30 days.
When your mailbox has been damaged by someone else, it is essential to keep all receipts pertaining to the replacement or repair of the mailbox. Claims to their insurance may not go through immediately, but you do need to get your mailbox into working condition as soon as possible.
Let’s go through how to handle the situation if your mailbox gets hit by a car.
What to Do If You Find Your Mailbox Has Been Hit By a Car
Most times, if someone collides with your mailbox, it is an accident, and they will let you know. If you come home and find your mailbox has been damaged, first check under your door for a note, ask your neighbors, or look around for details that the driver may have left notifying you of the accident.
It is also possible that the driver reported the incident to the police and their insurance company immediately. If you do not find a note, check with your local police department to see if the accident was reported.
If you find that the accident has not been reported and you cannot find a note from the driver, you need to file a hit and run report with your police department. This step will hopefully lead to identifying the driver, and you will have a chance to recover the cost of replacing your mailbox.
What to Do If You Hit Someone Else’s Mailbox
Accidents happen, and mailboxes are sometimes difficult to see. So if you bump someone else’s mailbox while driving, stay calm and follow this procedure.
- Move the car to a spot where you can park safely.
- See if there is an owner around to notify of the collision.
- Notify the police department – they may suggest you leave a note for the owner that includes your contact information.
- If the damage to either the mailbox or the vehicle is significant, you may need to obtain a police report to file a claim with your insurance company.
It is essential not to leave the scene without notifying the mailbox owner and reporting the accident to the police. Mailboxes are considered federal property, so if you leave the scene without letting the correct parties know, you may face more serious charges like felony or misdemeanor.
There is no need to be unduly stressed about an accidental collision with a mailbox if the correct reporting procedure is followed. You or your insurance company is likely to be liable for the repair or replacement of the mailbox.
What to Do If You Collide with Your Own Mailbox
Owners backing into their own mailboxes happens more frequently than you think. If you do misjudge where your mailbox is and drive into it, it is up to you how to proceed.
- If your vehicle was damaged, you might have to report the accident to the police to get a report so you can claim from your auto insurance.
- If your car was not damaged, and only the mailbox was destroyed, it is unlikely that your auto insurance will cover the costs to replace it because you damaged your own property. Also, the cost of replacing your mailbox is probably going to be less than the increase in your premium if you file a claim.
- If you are renting, your landlord may require a collision report for their insurance to pay for a new mailbox.
The bottom line is that if you damage your own mailbox, it is probably more cost-effective to repair or replace it yourself than to file a claim.
What to Do if a Snowplow Damages My Mailbox
Because mailboxes are positioned on the curb, they are prone to be damaged either directly or indirectly by snowplows. It is often unavoidable as winter storms roll in and city snowplow drivers try to keep the roads passable for motorists.
Fortunately, towns and cities make provision for this scenario in their budgets, and most reimburse homeowners for the replacement or repair of their mailbox. However, there are some limitations in place, and your replacement mailbox usually won’t exceed around $50 per year, although this varies from town to town.
The factor determining whether a claim for damages caused by a snowplow will be successful is whether the machine collided directly with the mailbox or whether the force of the snow caused the damage.
A town will usually send someone to inspect the damage. Only claims that involve the snowplow itself damaging the mailbox will be considered. The highway crews are not responsible for the amount or weight of the snow being moved.
Very expensive or fancy mailboxes that fall victim to snowplows are more challenging to navigate in terms of costs. A homeowner may be requested to make an insurance claim which the town would submit.
How to Prevent Your Mailbox From Being Hit By Cars
Most of the time, when a vehicle collides with your mailbox, it is because the driver didn’t see it. They may be backing out of your drive at night, or a snowplow driver wasn’t able to see it under a massive stack of snow.
One of the best ways to protect your mailbox is to make it highly visible – whether it is pouring rain or dark night, adding mailbox post reflectors will help drivers see it. Reflectors can come in self-adhesive tape form or be screw mounted.
When adding reflectors, don’t forget to include the back of your mailbox, so visitors backing out your driveway see your mailbox before they feel it on their bumper.
It is impossible to predict the winter snowfall, and in cold regions, snowplow incidents are highly likely to be an annual challenge. Northern homeowners have, however, come up with plenty of original solutions to save their mailboxes from damage.
Direct collisions between snowplows and mailboxes are actually relatively rare, but mailboxes are frequently damaged from the weight and pressure of walls of snow getting pushed off the road.
When devising a measure to protect your mailbox from walls of snow that may damage it, keep in mind that you need to ensure that the mailbox still adheres to USPS guidelines. The size, height, and position of curbside mailboxes are strictly regulated.
Here are some ways to prevent your mailbox from being damaged by snow that is being cleared by city snowplows
- Set the mailbox to swing on a cable so the stand can be positioned further back
- Cement the post firmly into the ground – damage is often caused when the mailbox post gets pushed over.
- Set your mailbox on springs on the base – this is a so-called bounce-back system. The weight of the snow pushes the mailbox over without pushing it off its support.
- Install a mailbox weather shield. The idea is that the barrier takes the impact of the wall of snow and protects your mailbox. If you don’t want to purchase a manufactured one, you can use a wood pallet.
- Some homeowners with big front yards have given up the struggle and resorted to creating a small drive-through entry and exit for their mailbox slightly further away from the curb that is easily accessible for the mail carrier. Be sure to check with the postmaster before moving your mailbox.
If your mailbox has been hit by a car, you should repair or replace it as soon as possible and retain the receipts. The driver’s auto insurance should cover the damage or repair of the mailbox. If you don’t have the driver’s details, the incident must be reported to your local police department.
I have a bachelor’s degree in construction engineering. When I’m not constructing or remodeling X-Ray Rooms, Cardiovascular Labs, and Pharmacies…I’m at home with my wife, two daughters and a dog. Outside of family, I love grilling and barbequing on my Big Green Egg and working on projects around the house.