Hit-and-run accidents occur more often than you might think. The most recent report from AAA shows that at least one hit-and-run accident occurs every minute in the U.S.
No one wants to think about worst-case scenarios, but when shopping for an auto insurance policy, you have to do just that. Think, what would you do if such an accident happened to you? Do you have the insurance coverage to help pay for medical costs and property damage?
As a car owner, here are a few things you need to know about hit-and-run incidents:
What is a Hit-and-run Accident?
The term “hit-and-run” refers to an accident where the driver of a vehicle hits something or someone and leaves the scene without providing any information.
There are three types of hit-and-run accidents:
- Where the driver of a vehicle hits a person and flees knowingly
- Where the driver of a vehicle hits another vehicle and flees knowingly
- Where the driver of a vehicle hits an object/someone else’s property and flees knowingly
All three of these actions are illegal and involve penalties. As a citizen, it’s your legal responsibility to report an accident, and many people also consider it a civic duty. If you’re involved in or witness a hit-and-run accident, call 911 and don’t leave the scene until you speak to the on-scene authorities.
What to do if a Hit-and-run Accident Injuries You or Damages Your Property
What should you do after a hit and run? If a driver hits you and flees the scene, call 911 as soon as you can safely dial. If you sustain a serious injury, communicate this to the dispatcher and wait for medical emergency services. You can wait to seek medical attention until after your file a report if the injury doesn’t require immediate care.
Should a hit-and-run accident result in property damage, be sure to report it to the police and file an insurance claim within 24 hours.
In any scenario, try your best to remember the license plate number, model, and color of the car that struck your or your property. If possible, snap pictures of the damage and look around for any witnesses. If you see any, ask them to wait and talk to the police when they arrive.
Next, call your insurance company and file a claim (this can wait if you’re severely injured). Give as many details about the accident as possible and find out how (or if) your car insurance policy will cover the associated expenses.
Who Pays for Damages Caused by a Hit and Run?
Who pays for hit-and-run-related expenses depends on:
- What Forms of Auto Insurance You Have– In general, uninsured motorist coverage or collision coverage applies to hit-and-run accidents that cause property damage. Most states make having these insurance forms optional.
In the case of bodily injury, either personal injury protection coverage or medical payments
coverage will pay for medical expenses.
As with all insurance policies, the compensation you receive depends entirely on your
coverage limits and deductibles.
- Where You Live– While uninsured or underinsured motorist insurance covers hit-and-run property damage in some states, collision insurance covers the expenses in other states such as California, Illinois, Ohio, Lousiana, and Colorado.
- Whether or Not the Driver is Identified– If you know who struck you or your property, that person’s auto insurance may pay for the associated expenses, depending on the circumstances.
Getting Coverage for Hit-and-Run Incidents
As mentioned above, collision coverage and uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage is optional in many states. While not legally required, these insurance forms may protect you from high out-of-pocket expenses, should you be the victim of a hit and run.
Collision insurance covers damage to a policyholder’s vehicle if:
- They’re involved in an accident with another vehicle
- If they hit an object
- If they get into an accident that doesn’t involve another car, such as rolling or flipping
- Because collision coverage applies to at-fault or not-at-fault situations, it’s used in some states for hit-and-run accident coverage
Generally speaking, uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage comes into the picture if the driver who causes an accident doesn’t have auto insurance or is underinsured. When a hit-and-run occurs, the insurance company essentially treats the situation as if an uninsured driver caused the damage.
When shopping for an auto insurance policy, carefully consider whether or not you want collision or uninsured motorist coverage. Be sure to factor in the value of your vehicle into your calculations and decision-making process.
Preparing for the Unexpected
No one wants to think about a hit-and-run accident happening to them. But unfortunately, these incidents do occur, and drivers leave the scene never get caught or held responsible. Insurance is all about preparing for the unexpected and making sure you’ll have coverage for whatever life throws your way. When making decisions about car insurance, do your research and talk to your agent about the optional coverage forms.