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Handling A Hit And Run: Understanding The Car Insurance Facts

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Updated November 13th, 2020

Written by
Shaun Fyffe
Insurance Author
Reviewed by
Jennifer Benson
Licensed Agent

It goes without saying, car accidents can be both frustrating and frightening for hit and run victims.

That is especially the case with a hit and run driver.

How you handle a hit and run will impact the investigation and your accident claim with your insurance provider.

What exactly are hit and run accidents?

A hit and run is a car accident where one of the involved drivers flees the scene without providing the other driver with their automobile insurance and contact information.

In most cases, the driver won’t stop to help the accident victims.

They don’t even stop to check to see what happened to their own motor vehicle.

The at-fault driver may not have insurance or is driving under the influence and runs to avoid contacting a police officer.

How common are hit and run accidents?

Unfortunately, hit and run car accidents have become more common in recent years.

The most recent data published is from a 2016 AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety accident report, which found hit and run crashes had resulted in 2049 deaths that year.

And the roadside assistance company AAA found a 60% increase in deaths caused by automobile wrecks. 

Additional data indicates that the most common type of hit and run crash involves property damage and minor injury to at least one victim.

In fact, a study from Allstate found that nearly 70% of all reported hit and run incidents involved damage to a parked car.

Highest percentage of automobiles involved in a hit & run moving violation.Illustrated above are the most common vehicles involved in a hit & run violation from over 1.9 million applicants for car insurance quotes and auto insurers. Other automobiles, such as Ford F-150 and Honda Civic are not included. Source – Insurify.com

Insurance issues

For most car owners, the role of insurance in an automobile wreck is simple.

Following the incident, you contact insurance to make a claim, and they handle everything from there.

While you should check with your insurance agent, most car insurance providers treat hit and run incidents no differently than they do with standard two-car collisions.

Below I have outlined four different auto insurers and how they investigate whether they will raise your insurance rates:

 DamagesPercent Fault
State FarmTotals $750 or more under property damage liability coverage and collision coverage combined.At least 50%
AllstateA claim of at least $500.50%
Progressive$400 payout51% fault
Farmers$400 payout51% fault

It is going to depend on your past claims history, accidents, moving violations, driving record, and insurance credit score, whether the auto insurer is going to raise your auto insurance rates after the fact, according to ValuePenguin.

Are hit and runs covered by insurance?

The minimum basic liability auto insurance policy usually does not cover the costs following a hit and run crash.

If you are worried about being involved in a hit and run accident, then you should consider at least one of the following types of additional coverage:

collision coverage

uninsured motorist bodily injury and/or property damage coverage

personal injury protection or medical payments coverage

Collision coverage

Collision coverage will cover the costs to repair your vehicle up to its actual cash value. Also, you will not be able to buy collision without comprehensive with insurers. 

You can have those costs covered by claiming with your own insurance provider.

However, you will still need to pay the cost of your deductible.

If law enforcement can identify the at-fault driver and includes it in the police report, your insurance company may be able to recoup your deductible.

Uninsured motorist coverage

With this type of coverage, you can file an uninsured motorist claim without paying a deductible to get compensation for the following:

– medical bills and lost wages

– repairs to your vehicle following a motor vehicle accident, including a hit a run crash

Personal injury protection / medical payments coverage

The availability of both these coverages varies from state to state and by the insurance company.

Some states have personal injury protection (PIP coverage) and medical payments coverage (MedPay) as part of their insurance requirements. 

They cover the costs of medical bills that result from a personal injury to you or your passengers.

How will the accident affect my insurance rates?

If you are one of the many victims of a hit and run driver, your insurance rates probably won’t increase.

If you have multiple accidents within 3 years with more than $750 in damages, your insurer could use it to determine your rate at renewal, however.

You should make sure your insurance company does not list you at fault.

According to the insurance company State Farm, you will not be at fault if you are:

– Lawfully parked

– Reimbursed by the person responsible.

– Rear-ended and not convicted of a moving violation.

– Reported the hit and run accident to proper authorities within 24 hours.

– Not convicted of a moving traffic violation.

– Reporting damage caused by falling trees, objects, birds, or animals. 

As long as you don’t have multiple wrecks or traffic safety violations in the last few years, you won’t be at risk of paying more for auto insurance coverage.

However, if you are at-fault, your current rate can increase astronomically:

StateAverage rateHit-and-runPercent increase
Michigan$2,368$7,535218%
California$1,783$4,942177%
Arizona$1,399$3,555154%
New Jersey$1,419$2,61184%
Pennsylvania$1,438$2,61982%
Texas$1,644$2,83472%
Florida$2,250$3,72566%
Wisconsin$1,147$1,82459%
New York$1,214$1,89156%

Source: Quadrant Information Systems via insurance.com

What should I do after the accident?

If you are in your vehicle in a hit and run crash, the first thing you should do is make sure everybody is safe, and nobody needs medical attention.

If there is an injured person in your car, you should contact emergency services immediately.

It is recommended that you call as soon as possible because a hit and run is considered a crime in the United States.

The responding officer will collect the necessary evidence to file a police report.

If there are any witnesses at the scene, collect their contact information to support your case.

Additionally, take as many pictures as possible.

You will be able to use them to support your case with your car insurance.

If you choose to hire a law firm to seek compensation from the at-fault driver, an experienced attorney will request those photos as evidence.

If you have a dashcam, use footage from the accident to identify the driver’s license plate.

That evidence can be included in the report and help you decide to seek criminal charges and compensation from a settlement afterward.

Is it a hit and run if I hit an animal?

There are certain circumstances when the law is required for you to report a wreck involving an animal.

Not doing so would be considered a hit and run.

For example, if the animal you hit is a dog, horse, cow, goat, pig, or wild animal, you must report the accident.

Conversely, if you hit an animal such as a cat or deer, you do not need to file any report.

However, if you want to file an insurance claim after hitting an animal like a deer, it may be worth it to have a police officer file a report.

If you want compensation for hitting an animal, you will need comprehensive coverage as part of your auto insurance policy.

Conversely, if you swerve to miss the animal and hit an object, this would fall under collision insurance.

If in an accident with an animal, you want to follow these steps:

Call the local police if necessary. In the event of no bodily injuries or property damage, making a police report is not required.

Document the damage. Include photo evidence of blood or fur if the animal runs away.

Check to make sure your vehicle is in working order.

If witnesses were available, collect their information.

Make a report to your agent or insurance company.

The insurance provider will assign a claims adjuster who will evaluate.

Factors that affect the length of an investigation

Solving hit and run cases is not always cut and dry.

The length of the investigation into this criminal offense depends on a few factors.

The most obvious is the amount of evidence involved.

An investigation can finish quickly if you have a dashcam video with the other car’s license plate for evidence.

If you don’t have a dashcam and live in a rural area with little to no video cameras, the investigation could take some time.

What happens if a hit and run accident go unsolved?

Sadly, hit and run car accidents often go unsolved.

Fortunately, with the proper insurance coverage, your medical expenses and repair costs will be covered.

Depending on your situation, it may be worth contacting a law firm to seek a lawyer’s help for a personal injury claim. 

A good accident lawyer will help you get the compensation you deserve, whether it is for a property or personal injury settlement, even if the crime goes unsolved.

References

newsroom.aaa.com/2018/04/hit-run-deaths-hit-record-high/

www.allstate.com/tr/car-insurance/determining-fault-after-car-accident.aspx

aaafoundation.org/hit-and-run-crashes-prevalence-contributing-factors-and-countermeasures/

Shaun Fyffe

Shaun Fyffe

Shaun is an auto insurance expert with ten years of experience as a researcher and content writer. He's fluent in Spanish, teaching it plus AP computer science at Nyack Public Schools in New York. He has a B.A. in Spanish, B.S. in computer science from Florida State University, and an M.A. from SUNY New Paltz.

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