How Does Insurance Cover Hit-and-Runs?

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Being the victim of a hit-and-run can be a traumatic and life-threatening experience. Fortunately, car insurance can help cover the costs of medical care or car repairs after the accident — even if you can't identify the driver of the vehicle. If you don't have them already, consider adding collision, uninsured motorist and personal injury coverages to protect yourself after a hit-and-run.

What is a hit-and-run?

In most states, drivers are required to stop, identify themselves and provide appropriate aid to anyone else involved in an automobile crash.

If someone hits your car and doesn't stop, that counts as a hit-and-run — even if your car is parked and you're not in it.

Most state laws do not differentiate between a hit-and-run on an occupied versus an unoccupied car, but they do impose harsher penalties if someone is injured or killed.

What kind of insurance covers hit-and-runs?

There are several types of auto insurance that may cover you after a hit-and-run: liability, personal injury protection, uninsured motorist coverage and collision. Some can significantly drive up the cost of your car insurance, so check which of these coverages are on your policy already. Then, consider adding them so you're adequately protected after a hit-and-run.

  • Liability coverage: Liability insurance (or a similar form of financial responsibility) is the only type of car insurance that's mandatory nationwide. This is designed to pay for your medical expenses and car repairs after a covered incident. If you're the victim of a hit-and-run, you'll file a claim against the other driver's liability insurance. However, the driver who hit you might not have this type of coverage, and you can only make a claim if you can identify the driver.
  • Personal injury protection (PIP) and medical payments (MedPay): If you have either of these coverages, they can help pay for the costs of medical care. Your own health insurance policy will also cover these costs. Personal injury protection is only required in some states, so you may or may not have it on your policy.
  • Uninsured motorist coverage: If you can't identify the driver who hit you, or you succeed in identifying them but they don't have insurance, then uninsured motorist coverage will cover you instead. You can choose to add coverage for bodily injury and property damage to your uninsured motorist coverage. However, you generally can't buy higher limits than you have on your own liability coverage.
  • Collision coverage: This portion of your auto insurance policy pays for any damage to your own car, but it typically comes with a deductible. That means you may have to pay for damage that you're not to blame for. Collision coverage applies even if the hit-and-run occurs when your car is parked.

Car insurance coverages that may apply after a hit-and-run

Coverage type
Is it required by law?
Circumstances under which you can make a claim
Personal injury protection/Medical paymentsSome statesIf anyone was injured
Uninsured/underinsured motoristSome statesIf you do not identify the other driver, or they do not have car insurance
Liability (other driver's policy)Yes (most states)If you identify the driver and they do have car insurance

Some types of insurance coverage won't apply to hit-and-runs. Your own liability coverage, which pays for another person's medical and car repair costs if you are responsible for an accident, does not apply. Neither does comprehensive coverage, which covers damage to your car due to causes other than a collision.

What to do when you are the victim of a hit-and-run

You might feel disoriented after a hit-and-run, so it's important to review these steps now, before you need to use the information. If you're the victim of a hit-and-run, here's what you might expect:

  • 1. Do a safety check. Make sure everyone is safe and out of harm's way.
  • 2. Call 911 or the police. If anyone has been injured, call 911 and ask for medical care. If no one is hurt, call the police so you can file a police report on the accident.
  • 3. Stay where you are until help arrives. It may be tempting, but don't try to chase after the other driver. They've already committed a dangerous crime, and they may break more laws to get away.
  • 4. Take notes on the accident. Write down the make, model and color of the car that hit you; the license plate number and the driver's appearance, if you saw them. It will also be helpful to write down the circumstances of the accident.
  • 5. Talk with the police. Once the police arrive, they'll ask you for details and will file your police report. Ask them to check whether anyone else saw the accident and whether a nearby home or business caught the incident on a security camera. This footage can help you catch the fleeing driver.
  • 6. Call your insurance company. You'll need to make an insurance claim soon after the accident so you can eventually get paid for any damage. Many states have a time limit for how long after a crash you can file an insurance claim.

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