Being involved in a hit-and-run accident is a traumatic experience for any motorist. Once the shock fades, you might wonder if you have hit-and-run car insurance.
When your vehicle is damaged by another vehicle that flees the scene, you’re a victim of a hit-and-run criminal assault. This is the case whether you were driving your car or if it was parked.
After you discover the damage, call 911 and report it immediately. This is important so you can prove the incident is legally classified as a “not-at-fault” claim. In most cases, your insurance rates won’t go up after making this type of claim.
To further aid police, slip on your “CSI” hat and take notes, if known, of the time and place of the collision. Jot down the make, model, color and license plate state and number of the vehicle that hit yours.
Also, get the names and phone numbers of witnesses to the crash. If possible, also take photos of the scene of the crime and damages to your vehicle.
READ ALSO: What Does It Mean to Have a Totaled Car?
Understanding hit-and-run car insurance
In an ordinary, non-hit-and-run traffic collision, the at-fault driver’s insurance would help pay your medical bills and vehicle repairs. Unfortunately, if a driver flees the scene, there’s no way to tap their coverage. The good news is that most drivers have hit-and-run car insurance built into their policies.
“As long as you have full coverage, you are covered for hit-and-run,” says Jonathan Fechtel, account manager for Big Al Suklje State Farm Insurance in Eugene, OR.
Coverages for hit-and-run car insurance include:
● Collision coverage helps pay to repair your vehicle after a crash with another vehicle, regardless of who caused the wreck. You’re covered even if the other driver is never identified. But be aware that your deductible will apply.
● Uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage pays medical bills and lost wages if your vehicle is struck by an uninsured driver. It also covers you when you’ve suffered a hit-and-run. An added bonus is that this protection doesn’t come with a deductible.
● Uninsured motorist property damage coverage helps pay repairs to your car caused by an uninsured driver. According to the Insurance Information Institute, this policy may help pay for a hit-and-run repair, depending on the state where you live. Where available, it typically comes with a deductible.
● Medical payments coverage may help pay medical bills for you and passengers in a hit-and-run scenario, typically with no deductible.
● Personal injury protection (PIP) coverage foots medical bills and perhaps lost wages and temporary childcare for you and your passengers, regardless of who caused the accident. While PIP is mandatory in some states, it is not available in all and may include a deductible.
Will claiming a hit-and-run raise your car insurance rate?
According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, new auto insurance claims can cause your rate to rise. However, some insurers make an exception for “not-at-fault” hit-and-runs.
“With State Farm, you won’t see a change; they won’t affect your premiums,” says Fechtel. “Now when you start seeing four or five hit-and-runs, that goes into claims frequency, which means you’re really likely to file claims. That’s when you can see a (rate increase) decision coming down from the frequency side, not from that individual claim.”