Hit-and-Runs and Car Insurance

A hit-and-run accident is especially stressful because you have no way of finding out the other driver's auto insurance information. Despite this, you may still be able to file a claim with your own insurance provider and receive assistance with any damages or medical costs.

What Is a Hit-and-Run Accident?

Most insurance providers define this as any type of accident in which a driver knowingly leaves without providing any sort of contact information. This type of accident can involve a car and a pedestrian, a car and someone's property, or two vehicles.

Hit-and-run accidents can happen on the road or in a parking lot at any time, so it's always important to understand your options ahead of time in case this happens to you.

Steps to Take Immediately After a Hit-and-Run

Though you may feel overwhelmed or stressed if you're ever the victim of a hit-and-run accident, the best thing you can do is to keep yourself as calm and focused as possible. This will allow you to gather all the information you can in order to help the police find the other driver. Take these steps immediately following a hit-and-run:

  • Record as much information as possible about the car that hit you.
    • If you saw the other vehicle, write down everything you can remember about its:
      • Make and model.
      • Color.
      • Identifying marks (e.g. a bumper sticker, dent, tinted windows, etc.)
      • License plate number. If you did not see it, still write down the date, time, location and damage sustained.
    • Regardless of whether you saw the car, still write down the date, time, location, and damage sustained during the incident.
  • Try to find witnesses.
    • Look for anyone in the vicinity who may have seen the accident. Then, ask for their contact information so the police can speak with them and corroborate your story.
  • Take plenty of pictures.
    • Before leaving the scene, be sure to take pictures of where exactly the accident happened and any damage done to your car.
    • Take clear pictures from all angles, particularly if there are paint marks from the other vehicle.
  • File a police report right away.
    • Even if you saw the other car, do not attempt to follow it; there's a much higher chance of putting yourself in danger by way of reckless driving or a violent encounter with the other driver.
    • Give the responding officer all the information you gathered in the steps above.

How Your Car Insurance Can Help After a Hit-and-Run

Unfortunately, while your auto insurance company may be able to help cover the costs of damage repairs and medical expenses, you'll still be responsible for any deductibles on your policy. Typically, when you're in an accident that was not your fault, the other driver's insurance covers your claim. With hit-and-runs, however, you will still have to pay to cover the damages.

While coverage and policy limitations vary by state, there are several different types of insurance that can potentially help you with the costs of a hit-and-run accident, including:

  • Collision coverage: This is intended to help cover the cost of vehicle repairs regardless of who's at fault, though you'll still be responsible for paying the deductible.
  • Uninsured motorist coverage: Typically, uninsured motorist coverage is reserved for situations where the at-fault party doesn't have insurance, but some policies will allow you to make a claim in the event of a hit-and-run. This type of coverage has varying limits, so find out how much coverage you have ahead of time.
  • Personal injury protection (PIP): PIP coverage is the most variable of all types of insurance and may help provide compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and childcare (if applicable) needed after a hit-and-run accident.

>Will My Premiums Go Up?

Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to this question. While you may think that the answer should be an obvious "no," the fact of the matter is that it depends entirely on your driving history and car insurance provider.

In most cases, your premium should not go up, or if it does, it will not be by much. However, some providers will say you put your vehicle in a "risky situation" and decide to hike up your rates. If this happens and you have an otherwise clean driving record, consider switching to a different auto insurance provider.

Being the victim of a hit-and-run accident can cause an immense amount of stress and damage, especially if the at-fault driver is never found. However, if you make sure you have adequate coverage beforehand and take the necessary steps afterward, you should not have to pay for damages and medical expenses entirely on your own.