Car accidents are often frustrating and traumatic experiences. Vehicle collisions involve the potential of injury, costly repairs and a major disruption to your day. Even if the other driver is apologetic and cooperates, it can put a real damper on any plans. If the other involved party speeds off before you can collect their information, it can be a frustrating experience.
This kind of collision, a hit-and-run car accident, occurs far more often than you might think. It’s important that you take several key steps to ensure you protect yourself financially, including quickly contacting your auto insurance company. Let’s explore some of the best practices if you’re involved in a hit-and-run accident.
Key Takeaways about How to Handle a Hit-and-Run
- A hit-and-run accident is a collision where another party is responsible
- The most important thing to do in a hit-and-run is to stay calm and collect as much information as you can
- Your auto insurance can often help cover the expenses from a hit-and-run
- Your auto insurance rates shouldn’t go up as a result of a hit-and-run
What is a hit-and-run accident?
If one party leaves the scene of a crash, this is considered a hit-and-run. This includes both accidents with minor damage (a fender bender) or no visible damage at all. Consequences for leaving the scene of a crash can vary by state, but they often include:
- Criminal charges
- License revocation or suspension
- Jail time
- Fines and fees
Drivers may flee the scene of an accident for a variety of reasons, but some of them include driving with a suspended license, having no auto insurance or because they’re under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
How to Report a Hit-and-Run
The first thing to do as the victim of a hit-and-run situation is to stay put. Leaving the scene of the accident could create additional challenges to the situation, cause further damage to your vehicle or expose you to danger.
Instead, call 911 and do your best to pull your vehicle off the road as safely as you can. If there are witnesses, ask them to stay put until the police come to the scene.
If you’re involved in a crash, gather as much information about the accident as you can. Information that will be helpful in filing a police report for a hit-and-run accident includes:
- The other car’s license plate number
- The make, model and color of the other vehicle
- The direction the other vehicle was headed after the accident
- Date, time and location of the accident
You should also:
- Ask any witnesses for additional information about the accident. Take their names and contact information, too. These details are important, especially if you weren’t with your vehicle when the damage occurred.
- Take photos of your vehicle, including different angles and close-ups.
Once these details are squared away, the next step is to contact your auto insurance company. Most insurance companies require hit-and-run damage be reported to the police within 24 hours. Because auto repairs can take time to complete, starting the hit-and-run insurance claim process as soon as you can is important.
What Not to Do in a Hit-and-Run
The one thing you should avoid doing in the instance of a hit-and-run is leave the scene of the accident. The first thing you should do is call the police and give them as many details as possible. They may be able to locate the driver of the other vehicle based on that information.
Don’t wait to contact your insurance company, either. The more information you can provide about the accident (and the earlier), the better. This can help you file a “not-at-fault” insurance claim. The ability to file this kind of claim varies by state.
Does my car insurance cover a hit-and-run?
Auto insurance coverage varies from person-to-person, so while there are many instances in which your car insurance will cover a hit-and-run, that isn’t always the case. If the police are able to find the person who hit you and they have insurance, there’s a chance their insurance company could help pay for any damages. The truth, however, is that most hit-and-run drivers aren’t identified.
The best way to ensure coverage for hit-and-run accidents is to opt for insurance policies that can help cover those costs. These insurance options include:
- Uninsured or underinsured motorist property damage
- Collision coverage
- Uninsured and underinsured motorist bodily injury protection
Auto insurance coverage for hit-and-run accidents also varies by state and the above types of policies often have limits. You’ll want to carefully read your policy declarations to understand what (and how much) is covered by your insurance company.
Do you have to pay your deductible for a hit-and-run?
There’s not typically a specific hit-and-run deductible. For collision coverage, uninsured motorist property damage and personal injury protection, you may be required to pay your usual deductible—the amount you pay out of pocket toward covered claims.
Deductibles are paid even if the accident isn’t your fault, but you may be able to recover this cost if the police can identify the driver and get their insurance information. Insurance that doesn’t regularly have a deductible includes uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage and medical expenses coverage.
|Type of Coverage||Deductible|
|Uninsured Motorist Property Damage Coverage||✓|
|Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury Coverage||No Deductible|
|Medical Expenses Coverage||No Deductible|
Will a hit-and-run raise my auto insurance rates?
Although a hit-and-run claim often requires you to pay your collision deductible, it does not usually count against you as a chargeable claim. An insurance company won’t typically raise your car insurance rates as a result of a hit-and-run. The most important thing is to make every effort to ensure that you’re not found at fault.
Make sure you’re covered with the right auto insurance.
The most important thing to remember about hit-and-run accidents is that while you may do everything right as a driver, other people’s behavior is something that’s out of your control. Part of preparing for the possibility of a hit-and-run accident is to carry insurance that can help protect you. That not only includes collision coverage, but also uninsured or underinsured driver insurance, too.
If you’re in the market for insurance to help keep you protected, shopping around for auto insurance can help you find the coverage you need. At SelectQuote, we can shop multiple insurance companies on your behalf to help save you both time and money. Get started on your free car insurance quote today.