An accident turns into a hit-and-run the moment someone drives away without leaving their details. Hit-and-runs are complicated accidents that can affect your car insurance premiums and claims, but your car insurance might cover your damages and costs if you have comprehensive or collision coverage.
How car insurance covers hit-and-run accidents
Insurance companies can also punish these drivers by raising insurance costs or canceling their policies. Whether car insurance covers a hit and run naturally depends on whether you are the culprit or the victim, and the situation.
Does liability insurance cover a hit-and-run?
No, basic liability insurance typically won’t cover damage to your car from a hit and run. The at-fault driver pays for damages to your car with their liability auto insurance. With a hit and run, you might not be able to find the other driver to get their insurance to pay out. And your own liability won’t cover damage caused by someone else.
If you commit a hit and run
If you are to blame, you won’t be able to claim from your car insurance. By driving away, you turn an accident into a crime, which your insurance won’t cover.
If your car is damaged in a hit and run
If you find your car has been sideswiped or dented, it’s possible you will be covered. You generally need to have comprehensive coverage or collision coverage to successfully make a claim.
- Comprehensive coverage helps with damage to your car from a wide range of sources, including other drivers and car accidents.
- Collision coverage helps pay to repair your vehicle if you hit another car or another vehicle hits your car, regardless of fault and whether the other driver is found.
- Uninsured motorist coverage might cover claims for a hit and run if the culprit was identified and found to be at fault for the accident and without insurance.
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How do I fix my car after a hit and run?
It’s up to you to decide whether to make a claim. In order to be found not at fault, you generally need to be able to indicate who caused the damage, and provide details of their registration and address. Naturally this is difficult to do if that person drove away after hitting your car.
Your options include:
- Pay for the repairs yourself. If only your car was damaged and repairs are less than your deductible, it might not be worth it to make a claim.
- Make a comprehensive claim. Make a claim on your comprehensive car insurance and pay any applicable deductible. This option could also result in your premiums being increased.
- Track down the driver. If you can track down the guilty driver, you can make a claim on your car insurance. Your insurer will try to recover the costs from the other driver. Typically this will help you avoid paying your deductible or facing higher premiums.
What should I do if my car is hit while parked?
To maximize your chances of getting claim coverage and finding the culprit, you should try to determine the extent of the damage, and document the incident as soon as possible.
- Note in writing the time when you discovered the damage. Keep a pen and notepad or other tools in your car for incidents like this.
- Note in writing any other details that may be relevant, such as whether you heard a loud crash in the night and what time it may have been.
- Take photos of the damage, both close up and further away. Clearly capture the extent and type of damage. Imagine asking a mechanic to give you a quote based on those photos alone; that’s the kind of detail you need.
Ideally try not to drive anywhere else that day. If you do, make sure all the damage is well documented before you drive off.
If you do drive your car and it handles strangely, or it seems there may be more than just a cosmetic problem, then park it somewhere safe as soon as reasonably possible. Driving your car after it has been hit could increase any damage caused by the initial accident. Any subsequent damage from driving the car won’t be covered by insurance and may invalidate your claim.
Should I make a claim after a hit and run?
There are some pros and cons when it comes to making a claim for car damages caused by a hit and run.
When to avoid making a claim
- The damage is purely cosmetic and not worth the cost to fix.
- You don’t want to pay the deductible, or repairs will cost less than the deductible.
- You don’t want to run the risk of rising premiums.
When to consider making a claim
- The damage might get worse if it’s not repaired.
- Eventually you’ll miss your chance. Claims for subsequent damage are unlikely to cover future repairs, and there’s a statue of limitations on making any claim at all.
- That’s what car insurance is for, and it’s cheaper than paying for repairs out of your pocket.
Do I have to pay a deductible if I make a hit-and-run claim?
Any deductibles from a hit-and-run insurance claim depend on the accident and your coverage. With uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage, you could make a claim if you’re injured in a hit-and-run, and there’s typically no deductible to pay.
If your vehicle is damaged in a hit-and-run, your collision coverage would kick in after you pay out of pocket for your deductible. And if you make a claim that involves multiple kinds of coverage, including a claim for personal injury protection and collision coverage, you might have to pay multiple deductibles.
What can I do if my property is damaged in a hit and run?
A crime has been committed, so you should call the police. This is also your best bet for identifying the culprit.
As property damage is not generally an emergency, it’s best to call your local police department’s non-emergency number instead of 911.
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What happens if I am the culprit in a hit and run on a parked car?
You should contact a legal professional for advice.
What initially appeared to be a hit and run might actually be an accident on closer inspection. For example, if someone thought their car was damaged in a hit and run, but they later found a note that was left by the driver responsible, or if what appeared to be a dent from a car backing up in the parking lot turned out to be rust damage.
A good outcome would be if both you and the person whose car you hit pass the situation off your insurers.
Is it illegal to commit a hit and run?
A hit and run is an illegal act, even if it doesn’t involve another person. Even hitting a parked car or any other type of property and then leaving the scene is considered a crime. The requirements are that the driver must at least stop and leave a note with insurance and contact details, and sometimes call for emergency services when needed.
Hitting a person then fleeing the scene is a much more serious offence, especially if a person was struck hard enough that you would reasonably assume they were badly injured or even killed.
Every state handles hit-and-run accidents differently, considering the incident a traffic infraction, misdemeanor or felony depending on the damage to other people or property. Punishment can include fines, imprisonment and temporary or permanent cancellation of the driver’s license.
Being involved in a hit and run can be complex and confusing, especially if you’re facing significant damages. Document what happened thoroughly and talk to your car insurance provider about your claim. Compare car insurance options to find the best coverage in a hit-and-run or other accident with your car.