Does Car Insurance Cover a Hit-and-Run?
Last Updated on October 20, 2020
Hit-and-runs are devastating. To make things worse, car insurance may not always cover a hit-and-run accident.
A hit-and-run accident is only covered by car insurance if you have collision coverage or uninsured motorist property damage coverage. If you have neither coverage, then you may need to pay for the hit-and-run out of pocket.
Today, we’re explaining how car insurance covers a hit-and-run accident.
How Car Insurance Covers a Hit-and-Run
Car insurance covers a hit-and-run accident similar to covering an accident with an uninsured motorist. Whether the driver is unknown (hit-and-run) or the driver has no insurance (uninsured motorist), the insurance company takes a similar approach.
Your car insurance policy only covers a hit-and-run accident if you have one or both of the following coverage options:
Collision coverage is optional in every state. It covers damage to your own vehicle after an accident. If you collide with another vehicle, for example, then collision coverage covers the cost of repairing your own vehicle (assuming the accident was your fault). In a hit-and-run accident or a collision with an uninsured motorist, collision coverage covers the cost of repairing damage to your own vehicle. You pay a deductible (typically $250 to $1,000), and your insurance covers the remaining costs.
Uninsured motorist property damage coverage, meanwhile, covers damage to your vehicle caused by an uninsured motorist (or, in this case, an unknown motorist). After a hit-and-run, you can make a claim through your uninsured motorist property damage coverage to cover the cost of repairing or replacing your vehicle.
Am I Covered for a Hit-and-Run?
Check your policy to determine if you have collision coverage or uninsured motorist property damage coverage.
Collision coverage is not legally required in any state. However, if you are leasing or financing a vehicle, then you are required to have collision coverage, in which case you should be covered for your hit-and-run.
Uninsured motorist property damage coverage is required in some states. Some states require motorists to have uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. In other states, this coverage is optional.
Check your insurance policy to see if you have collision coverage or uninsured motorist property damage coverage. Or, contact your insurance agent or insurance company.
What to Do After a Hit-and-Run
A hit-and-run accident can be frightening. Follow these steps after a hit-and-run accident:
- Secure the scene and make sure everyone is safe.
- Contact emergency services via 911 if necessary (say, if anyone needs immediate medical attention).
- If the other driver has left the scene, contact the police immediately. Take note of any information you can give to the police, like a license plate number, vehicle description, or driver description.
- Document the accident. Take photos of the damage and the area around the accident. Take a video if necessary. The more visual evidence you have, the easier your claim will be.
- Collect witness statements from anyone nearby. Get the name and contact information of any witnesses. Consider filming the witnesses as you ask questions about the accident.
- Contact your insurance company and explain the situation. Provide all evidence to your insurance company’s adjuster as needed.
Hit-and-run accidents can be devastating. Ideally, your insurance company agrees to cover the accident and all expenses resulting from the accident.
Should You Make a Claim Through Uninsured Motorist or Collision Coverage?
Your insurance agent may tell you that uninsured motorist property damage coverage and collision coverage are similar.
This is only partly true: they cover similar things (damage to your vehicle caused by an uninsured or unknown motorist), but you pay for them in two different ways.
Ask your insurance company about a rate hike you would face after an uninsured motorist property damage claim versus a collision coverage claim. Many insurers raise rates after a collision claim, for example, but not an uninsured motorist property damage claim.
You may also pay a different deductible depending on how you make a claim. You might pay a $500 to $1,000 deductible with a collision coverage claim, for example, and a $250 deductible (or no deductible) for an uninsured motorist property damage claim.
Your collision coverage and uninsured motorist coverage also have different limits. You might have $50,000 of collision coverage, for example, but only $5,000 of uninsured motorist coverage.
Personal Injury Protection Could Cover Medical Bills
After a normal accident, the at-fault driver’s car insurance would cover any medical bills. After a hit-and-run accident, however, the at-fault driver is unknown, which means someone else needs to cover medical bills.
Some drivers have personal injury protection (PIP) coverage, which functions similar to health insurance. Personal injury protection covers medical bills, lost wages, and certain other expenses after an accident – regardless of fault.
If you have personal injury protection, then you can receive compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and other costs immediately after the accident, even if the other driver is unknown.
Personal injury protection is required in some states, although it’s optional in most states.
Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury Coverage Could Cover Medical Bills
If you have medical bills after an accident, then you could also make a claim through your uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage.
Uninsured motorist bodily injury protection covers certain medical costs after a hit-and-run accident. Typically, this coverage applies to collisions with an uninsured driver. However, it can also apply to hit-and-run incidents where the other driver is unknown.
Uninsured motorist bodily injury protection (UMBI) covers medical bills and certain other costs for you, your passengers, and anyone else injured after an accident with an uninsured motorist.
What Happens If I Commit a Hit-and-Run?
If you commit a hit-and-run and are caught, then you’ll pay significantly higher insurance premiums. You not only caused an accident – but you also fled the scene of that accident. In the eyes of an insurance company, you are one of the riskiest drivers to insure.
However, your insurer should still cover the cost of your hit-and-run up to the limits of your policy. Your insurer will cover any medical bills up to the limits of your bodily injury liability coverage, and your insurer will cost any vehicle damage up to the limits of your property damage liability coverage. Even if you committed an illegal act (like a hit-and-run or DUI), your insurer covers the cost of an accident.
Many drivers see insurance premiums double after being charged with a hit-and-run violation. Generally, you can expect to pay 80% to 110% higher insurance premiums after being convicted of a hit-and-run.
Some insurers will even cancel coverage after a hit-and-run violation. If you have multiple accidents or speeding tickets on your record already, then you might need to find a new insurer.
Other Penalties for a Hit-and-Run Accident
As a victim of a hit-and-run accident, you’re unlikely to face further penalties from the incident.
However, if you caused the hit-and-run collision, then you could face additional penalties beyond higher insurance premiums.
Hit-and-runs could be considered anything from a misdemeanor to a felony, depending on the severity of the accident.
If you hit someone’s car in a parking lot, for example, and were later caught on surveillance tape, then you might be charged with a misdemeanor.
Alternatively, if you smashed into a minivan on the freeway and injured a family of four, then left the scene, then you could be charged with multiple felonies.
Hit-and-run accidents can also come with administrative penalties. Most states assign points to your license even for minor hit-and-runs with small property damage, for example.
In other states, any type of hit-and-run will trigger an SR-22 certificate requirement, which means you need to buy high-risk auto insurance for the foreseeable future.
Will a Hit-and-Run Claim Raise Insurance Premiums?
Each state and each insurer has different rules about hit-and-run claims and insurance premiums. Some states forbid insurers from raising premiums after a hit-and-run claim. Other states allow insurers to raise rates.
Typically, an insurer will not raise rates if you are the victim of a single hit-and-run accident.
If you caused a hit-and-run accident, however, then an insurer will likely raise rates or cancel coverage.
Insurers treat hit-and-run accidents like not-at-fault accidents. As long as you don’t have two or more not-at-fault accidents on your record, a single hit-and-run should not significantly impact rates.
However, some insurers use a hit-and-run claim to take away your safe driving record. If you have a claims-free record over the past five years, for example, then a hit-and-run claim could nullify that record.
Ultimately, rules vary widely between insurers, and we recommend talking to your insurer to determine how rates rise after a hit-and-run accident.
Final Word on Hit-and-Runs and Insurance
Car insurance will cover a hit-and-run if you have collision coverage or uninsured motorist property damage coverage. Since these coverages are optional in most states, your insurance may or may not cover your hit-and-run. Contact your insurer or check your policy to verify coverage.
If you caused a hit-and-run accident, meanwhile, then insurance should cover any damage from that hit-and-run, although you might face higher rates (or canceled coverage) in the future.