How Does Auto Insurance Cover Hit-and-Runs?

If someone causes an accident and flees the scene, motorists have to rely on their own vehicle insurance policies, providing they have coverage for hit and run accidents. Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury, Personal Injury Protection or Medical Payments coverages can pay for your and your passengers’ injuries and Uninsured Motorist Property Damage or Collision coverages can pay for damages to your automobile, depending on your coverage and state rules. PIP and UM protections are required in some states as part of minimum requirements and they can be purchased in other states, if they are available.

It is a hit-and-run accident when a driver causes damages and/or injuries and disappears without stopping to provide information. Such people may never be identified or they may not have insurance anyway. State rules and your own car insurance coverage determines which coverage pays for hit-and-run injuries and property damages.

Uninsured Motorist coverage (UMC) is mandatory with minimum liability coverage in some states, optional in others and may not be available in several states. It is generally reasonably priced and provides good protection from people with no auto insurance as well as the ones who fled the scene. It is another reason to arrange a decent level of liability vehicle insurance limits because usually you can have UMC limits up to your liability levels.

Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury (UM BI)coverage pays for your and your passengers’ injuries up to your limits. If you have PIP but don’t have UM BI coverage, PIP coverage may pay for the medical costs of your injuries. Both of these covers also pay for your injuries, even if you are hit as a pedestrian. Also, motorists may be able to claim for lost wages and consequential losses like childcare. Your health insurance would also pay for your injuries.

Uninsured Motorist Property Damage (UM PD) coverage pays for vehicular damages you may suffer in states it is available and allowed to be used in cases of hit-and-runs. It usually has a deductible.

Most states accept hit-and-run claims on UM BD. California, Illinois, Colorado, Louisiana, Ohio and Georgia don’t allow Uninsured Motorist Property Damage to be used in hit-and-run collisions. These states require the confirmation that the driver is uninsured and this may not be possible when the driver isn’t caught. Instead, your vehicle insurance Collision coverage (if you have) may be able to pay for the auto repairs in these states.

For an accident to be considered hit and run under the UM PD, your car must have contact with the other car. If you swerve to escape a collision with another vehicle and hit road barriers, it isn’t considered a hit and run since the other car didn’t hit you.

Car insurance collision coverage pays for collision damages regardless of fault. So, it can be used to get compensated for vehicle damages caused by a hit and run incident, regardless of knowing who has done it or not. Collision coverage comes with a deductible and it is payable even if you are not at fault. It is an optional provision but most motorists choose to have it and is usually required if you have a loan.

When your own auto insurance company pays for damages, it may go down as a claim on your own policy, even if you aren’t at fault and it may increase your car insurance rates from next renewal, depending on the insurer and state.

If the driver responsible for the accident is found, your insurer may go after them and try to get them to pay for your damages and injuries. If they are successful, any claim you made on your own policy won’t affect your rates and you are likely to get back any deductible you paid. You should let your insurer know if you find out or remember anything about the driver or the car that fled the scene, even after getting paid by your insurer.

Here are a few things you should do, when you are ever involved in an accident where the other driver flees the scene without stopping;

  1. You should not under any circumstances chase the offending vehicle. This may cause further issues and aggravations. It is best to check that everybody is alright and you are not causing obstruction. Pull over and deal with injuries and check for auto body issues.
  2. Next, take a breath and write down anything you can remember about the car that just escaped. License plate number, color, make, model and anything about the driver (male or female?) will help you at a later stage. Also, note the time and location of the incident and how it happened. Which direction you were travelling, where the other car came from, which direction it went and any witnesses to the incident are all valuable details.
  3. You should call the police and report the incident. They may not come to the scene if it is just a scratch on the side of your car and there are no injuries but they can provide you with a crime reference, which would be useful when you make a claim on your own automobile insurance coverage.

Luckily, most of these incidents happen in car parks where someone nicks, scratches or catches the side mirror, realizes that there is nobody around to see or nobody is hurt and decides to quietly disappear. The consequences of fleeing a scene of a crash are very serious, especially when there are injuries. People can be sent to prison for it. Besides, there are so many cameras everywhere now that a little helpful description would be enough for the authorities to catch up with them, unless it was a stolen vehicle.