What Happens If Your Car Gets Hit When You’re Not There?
Last Updated on October 20, 2020
There are hundreds of hit-and-run accidents across the United States every day. If someone hits your parked car when you’re not there, then it’s considered a hit and run.
Walking up to your vehicle and discovering damage is a devastating feeling. Maybe you parked your car on the street overnight. Maybe you left your car in a parking lot for a few minutes while shopping. Whatever the situation may be, someone has hit your vehicle and left the scene.
Fortunately, car insurance can help. Today, we’re explaining what happens if your car gets hit when you’re not there, including the steps to take after a hit and run accident.
The First Steps
Once you have secured the scene and verified the damage, you need to take certain steps.
First, call the police. The police will arrive and create an accident report. A police report is crucial. Your insurance company will need the police report to file your claim. Police can also help investigate nearby security cameras or other evidence to identify the culprit.
Second, call your insurance company. Contact your insurance agent and start the claims process. As long as you have collision coverage or uninsured motorist coverage, you should be able to file a claim for damage to your vehicle. Even if you do not proceed with a claim, it’s a good idea to notify your insurer of the damage.
Third, document the accident. Take as many photos as possible. Ask around for eyewitnesses. Take notes about the location, time of day, and weather conditions. You might know the approximate time of the accident (say, if you were inside a store between 2:30 and 2:45 pm). Or, you might know the broad time of the accident (you parked your car on the street overnight). Take photos or videos of damage to your vehicle, landmarks or signage to identify the location, and any surrounding damage or marks on the environment – like skid marks, debris, or tire marks.
Will Insurance Cover Hit-and-run Accidents?
Some car insurance policies will cover hit-and-run accidents, while others will not. Insurance companies treat hit-and-run accidents similar to accidents with uninsured drivers. The other driver was at-fault for the accident, but the other driver is unknown or uninsured. You still need to repair the damage to your vehicle – even if the other driver cannot be identified.
Insurance may or may not cover your hit-and-run accident, depending on your policy:
If you have a basic, bare minimum car insurance policy, then you will not receive coverage for your hit-and-run accident. Most states only require you to have bodily injury and property damage liability coverage on your vehicle. These coverages cover damage you inflict to other drivers and property, but they do not cover damage to your own vehicle.
If you have uninsured motorist coverage or collision coverage, then you should be able to make a claim for your hit-and-run accident. Some states require uninsured motorist coverage – so even if you have a bare minimum policy, you may be able to make a claim. Any driver with a full coverage policy will have collision coverage, which covers damage to your own vehicle after an at-fault accident.
How Insurance Covers Damage to a Parked Car
If you have collision coverage or uninsured motorist coverage, then you should be able to make a claim through car insurance. Your car insurance should cover the cost of repairing your vehicle after it was damaged while parked.
Here’s how each type of policy covers damage to a parked car:
Collision coverage covers the cost of repairing or replacing your vehicle after a collision with another vehicle, regardless of fault. If you cause an accident and there’s $5,000 of damage to your vehicle, then you can make a claim through your collision coverage. Similarly, if you walk to your parked car and discover damage from a hit-and-run accident, then you can make a claim through your collision coverage. Your collision coverage covers the cost of repairing all damage to your vehicle – or replacing your vehicle if it’s a total loss.
Uninsured motorist property damage coverage covers the cost of repairing or replacing your vehicle after an accident with an uninsured or unknown motorist. If someone hits your vehicle on the highway and flees the scene, for example, then you can make a claim through uninsured motorist property damage coverage. Similarly, if someone hits your parked vehicle and leaves the scene, you can make a claim through your uninsured motorist property damage coverage. This coverage is optional in most states, although some states require it.
Do I Need to Pay My Deductible?
Discovering damage to a parked vehicle can be frustrating. Even if insurance covers damage, you may need to pay a deductible.
Depending on your insurer, your policy, and your coverage type, you could pay a deductible of $250 to $1,000 after a hit-and-run accident.
Typically, you pay a deductible on collision coverage claims. Most policies have a deductible of $250 to $1,000. You must pay this deductible, and your insurer covers all remaining damage.
Uninsured motorist property damage coverage may or may not have a deductible. Some insurers require you to pay the deductible for these claims, while others do not.
What Happens If Someone Hits your Car Without Leaving a Note?
In a perfect world, every driver would leave a note after hitting a parked car. Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world, and hit-and-run accidents occur every day.
If another driver hits your car without leaving a note, then this is considered a hit-and-run accident. Your insurance company treats it like an accident with an uninsured motorist. You still make a police report and file a claim. If you somehow have the perpetrator’s license plate number, that will help you immensely with your claim. You may or may not need to be your deductible, depending on your coverage.
How Much Does Insurance Cover?
Insurance covers the cost of a hit-and-run accident up to the limits of your policy. After paying your deductible, your insurance covers all remaining damage to make your vehicle “whole” again after the accident – either by repairing the damage or replacing the vehicle.
Check your policy to verify your coverage limits.
Many collision coverage policies have a limit that covers the full value of your vehicle.
However, some uninsured motorist property damage coverage policies have a relatively low limit – say, $5,000 to $10,000. If someone hit your vehicle when you’re not there and caused $15,000 of damage, then you could be forced to cover this damage out of pocket.
Contact your insurer or check your policy to verify coverage limits for hit-and-run accidents.
Final Word on Car Getting Hit When You’re Not There
There are nearly 700,000 hit-and-run accidents in the United States every year. On average, a hit-and-run accident occurs every minute somewhere in the country.
If someone hits your car when you’re not there, then it’s treated like a hit-and-run accident. You should be able to make an insurance claim through collision coverage or uninsured motorist property damage coverage, and insurance should cover the cost of repairing damage up to the limits of your policy.