Finder makes money from featured partners, but editorial opinions are our own. Advertiser disclosure

Hit-and-run coverage in California

Protect yourself from this common California car accident.

Get the cheapest quotes for your car

Compare providers in your area.

Insurance companies don’t offer coverage specifically for hit-and-runs in California. But look to pay for your car’s damage under other types of car insurance coverage.

What is considered a hit-and-run in California?

A hit-and-run in the state means that a driver left an accident scene after knowingly damaging someone else’s property or injuring a person. Drivers who hit someone’s property without the owner around should identify themselves instead — such as by leaving a note to avoid getting tagged with a hit-and-run.

What are the hit-and-run laws in California?

Since the state has such a problem with this type of accident, California enforces strict penalties for it. Those include:

  • Property damage penalties. Under California law, willfully leaving an accident after damaging property is considered a misdemeanor. Property damage may include cars, mailboxes or even pets. Drivers could receive a $1,000 fine or up to six months in jail for this crime.
  • Bodily injury penalties. Leaving an accident scene after injuring or killing a person can be deemed a misdemeanor or felony by the state. A misdemeanor could mean a fine between $1,000 to $10,000 and up to one year of jail time. A felony can result in the same fine, plus 1.5 to four years in state prison, depending on the injury’s severity.

Do I need coverage for hit-and-runs in California?

Making sure your policy covers hit-and-runs in California may be a good idea. The Golden State has a less than a golden record when it comes to this type of accident. Having car insurance coverage for hit-and-runs could offset damage if this unfortunate situation happens to you.

California has one of the highest totals for hit-and-run deaths in the nation, numbering 337 in 2016, according to a AAA report for 2016. By comparison, Texas had 233 deaths and Florida had 206.

What should I do after a hit-and-run in California?

After reporting the accident to police, you can try to get your insurance company to cover the hit-and-run. Consider these methods:

  • Report the driver responsible. If you can identify the driver or vehicle responsible to the police, you can get liability coverage from that driver’s insurance.
  • File a damage claim. If you don’t know who caused the damage, you could file a damage claim using your collision coverage. Collision averages about $290 per year nationwide, according to the Insurance Information Institute. Depending on where you live in California, you might expect a higher rate for large areas like San Francisco. In many states, you would file with your underinsured motorist coverage, but California actually prohibits hit-and-runs from getting filed under this coverage. That also means you’ll probably be responsible for paying your collision deductible, even though you didn’t cause the accident.
  • File a personal injury claim. Injuries caused by an unknown driver might get covered under medical payments or personal injury protection, if you have these added to your policy. Adding medical payments to your policy might only cost an extra $5 per month. If you don’t, your personal health insurance should spring into action here.

Does uninsured motorist cover hit-and-runs?

No, California doesn’t allow uninsured motorist or underinsured motorist coverage to apply in hit-and-run situations.

How to make a claim for a hit-and-run in California

In many cases, you may have to make a hit-and-run claim against your own insurance. Since California doesn’t allow underinsured motorist coverage to pay for this incident, you may need to file under collision. To make a claim:

  1. Get medical attention. First and foremost, you’ll want anyone needing emergency treatment to get cleared by a doctor.
  2. Gather details. Write down as many details about the accident, driver and car as possible.
  3. Contact your insurer. Report the accident details using your insurer’s online customer account, mobile app or by calling your agent.
  4. Pay your deductible. A collision claim typically requires you to pay your deductible, such as $500 or $1,000, before insurance kicks in.
  5. Get your settlement and car repairs. Finalize claim details with your adjuster and receive your settlement check in the mail or let your insurer pay for repairs directly.

What accident details should I report?

To jog your memory about the hit-and-run, you can focus on details such as:

  • The driver’s car description, such as color, size, model, bumper stickers and other personalizations
  • Vehicle license plate number, even if partial
  • Driver description, such as height, hair color, estimated weight and clothing
  • Evidence left behind
  • Photos of accident scene
  • Eyewitness accounts
  • Accident events

Bottom line

California has a high number of hit-and-run accidents compared to other states, which may make coverage for this accident worth the cost. However, you might need to verify with your insurer which type of coverage protects you from this incident.

Consider several providers for their hit-and-run protection and cost to make sure you’re getting the best value.

Questions about hit-and-runs and insurance in California

Sarah George's headshot
Written by


Sarah George is Staff Writer for Small Business Loans at BankRate and formally a personal finance writer at Finder focusing on all things banking and insurance. Her know-how has been featured in such publications as CBS, CNET and, and she was a panelist in Finder’s 2020 money-saving webinar. Sarah earned an English education degree and is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance. See full bio

Sarah's expertise
Sarah has written 135 Finder guides across topics including:
  • Car, motorcycle, home and life insurance
  • Insurance for specific car models
  • Analysis of industry reports
  • Insurance policy comparison

More guides on Finder

Ask a question provides guides and information on a range of products and services. Because our content is not financial advice, we suggest talking with a professional before you make any decision.

By submitting your comment or question, you agree to our Privacy and Cookies Policy and Terms of Use.

Questions and responses on are not provided, paid for or otherwise endorsed by any bank or brand. These banks and brands are not responsible for ensuring that comments are answered or accurate.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
Go to site