Does Car Insurance Cover Hit-and-Runs?
Your car insurance will likely offer some coverage for a hit-and-run accident, but the exact details depend on your policy and state regulations. Collision coverage, uninsured motorist property damage, uninsured motorist bodily injury, personal injury protection, and medical payments could potentially cover the incident.
A hit-and-run accident is when someone causes an accident and flees the scene without identifying themselves. If you are a victim of an hit-and-escape incident, your insurance plan might assist with the expenses of damages and injuries — but you should speak with your insurance agent for more details.
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Coverage For When Life Hits You With The Unexpected
Hit-and-run accidents are a severe problem on roads worldwide. In the United States, around one in five pedestrian fatalities are caused by unidentified driver incidents, with an average of 682,000 hit-and-run accidents annually. Such accidents can result in high costs for the victim, ranging from property damage and medical expenses to lost income and emotional distress.
The Florida Department of Transportation reported that in their state alone, from 2015 to 2019, they had over half a million unknown motorist accidents, which resulted in 1,037 deaths. If you figure an average funeral cost of $10,000 per family, each family of the person or people killed in the incident could have been financially devastated — on top of the emotional damage they suffered.
How Does Auto Insurance Cover Hit-and-Runs?
If you are the victim of a crash involving a driver who fled the scene, your insurance will likely pay for some of the damages, if not all. Depending on your state, you can file a claim under your collision, uninsured motorists coverage, medical payments, or personal injury protection.
Property Damage Coverage
Property damage coverage on your policy typically covers if you damage someone else’s property. However, there are cases where you have coverage for your property. The first is collision, and the second is uninsured motorists’ property damage. These coverages are not required, so check your policy to see if you have them.
Collision is coverage on your auto insurance policy that covers damages to your vehicle caused by collisions with another object, such as another car, tree, or wall. This coverage is usually optional and subject to a deductible, which you pay before the insurance coverage begins.
In the case of accidents with an unknown driver, collision insurance can cover damages to your car if the driver is never found or does not have insurance. However, collision insurance only covers damages to your car and does not cover injuries or damages to other people or property.
Uninsured Motorist Property Damage (UMPD)
Uninsured motorist property damage is a type of car insurance coverage that protects you if your car is damaged in an accident caused by an uninsured or unidentified driver. It covers repairing or replacing your car, subject to policy limits and deductibles. However, this coverage is unavailable in all states, and some states require collision coverage before purchasing it. It also does not cover damages to property other than your car or injuries to you or your passengers. Furthermore, it may not cover accidents in which the hit-and-run driver is never found.
Bodily Injury Coverage
Most states require bodily injury coverage. You and your passengers are covered by medical payments and personal injury protection regardless of who was at fault. Depending on the state, PIP coverage may also cover lost wages and rehabilitation costs.
Personal Injury Protection (PIP) or Medical Payment (MedPay)
Personal injury protection and medical payments are types of car insurance coverage that can provide medical expense benefits to you and your passengers in the event of an accident. PIP and MedPay cover medical expenses, lost wages, and other related expenses.
In the case of hit-and-run accidents, PIP and MedPay can help cover medical expenses for you and your passengers, even if the hit-and-run driver is never found or does not have insurance. However, this insurance has limits and may not cover all expenses, and coverage may vary depending on your policy and state regulations. Additionally, PIP and MedPay do not cover damages to your car or other property.
Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury (UMBI)
Uninsured motorist bodily injury is a type of car insurance coverage that protects you and your passengers in an accident caused by an uninsured or unidentified driver. It covers medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering from injuries sustained in the accident.
In the case of hit-and-run accidents, this coverage can provide protection even if the driver is never found or does not have insurance. However, UMBI is subject to limits and deductibles, and coverage may vary depending on your policy and state regulations.
How Much Could a Hit-and-Run Cost You?
The cost of a collision with an unknown motorist can vary widely depending on the extent of the damage and any injuries sustained. Without certain types of auto insurance coverage, the cost of a hit-and-escape incident can be substantial. The average cost of a property damage claim in 2019 (the most recent year information is available) was $3,841.
However, the expense can easily exceed this amount if the victim has no insurance coverage for collision or uninsured motorist property damage. For example, if an unidentified driver damages your car and you have no collision coverage, you may be responsible for paying for the repairs out of pocket, which could cost thousands of dollars.
What To Do if You’re Involved in a Hit-and-Run
If you are the victim of an unidentified driver incident, it is critical to know what to do. Follow the steps below to ensure that you are safe and can get your vehicle fixed promptly.
1. Perform a Safety Check
Not only should you check your vehicle over to make sure it is safe to drive, but if you were in the vehicle when it was hit, you should check yourself, also. You do not want to drive an unsafe vehicle, and you do not want to delay medical treatment should you be in need.
2. Call the Police
The next step is to call the police within the first 24 hours. They will help document the situation and take down all the details you can remember. It is best to call immediately so you do not forget any vital information since it can be a high-stress situation.
3. Document Everything
Even if you call the police right away, be sure to document everything. Write down descriptions of people, vehicles, the date and time, and any other pertinent information. Also, check with any witnesses and get statements. Take photos of all damage.
4. Notify Your Insurance Company
Now that you have called the police and documented everything, it is time to call your insurance company. You want to at least report the incident, and they can walk you through the process. If more injuries or damage pops up in the coming days, continue to document.
5. File a Claim
If you decide the damages or injuries are severe enough to report a claim, you can call your insurance company again and begin that process. An adjustor will then contact you typically within 24-48 hours and let you know the next steps.
How a Hit-and-Run Impacts Your Insurance Policy
An unidentified driver incident could impact your policy, depending on the situation and your state. Usually, you will not be impacted by accidents that are not your fault. However, depending on the circumstances of the accident and the insurance coverage, the insurance company may need to pay out for damages or injuries resulting from the accident, which can lead to increased premiums. If you are involved in multiple hit-and-escape incidents, the insurance company may view you as a reckless driver and decide to cancel your policy.
All in All
Hit-and-run victims can face car repair bills and medical expenses if the person at fault flees the scene. In a car accident, you could be left with costly out-of-pocket expenses if you do not have the correct type of auto insurance coverage. Since most of the coverages are not required, it is critical to know what coverages you need, how they will respond in an accident, and what to do after an accident.