What to Do After a Hit-and-Run

You typically need to buy car insurance beyond your state’s minimum requirements to receive coverage for a hit-and-run or other serious accident.

Athena Valentine Lent
Athena Valentine Lent

Athena Valentine Lent is a finance columnist for Slate and the author of Budgeting for Dummies (Wiley, 2023). Her writing has appeared in BuzzzFeed, The College Investor, GOBankingRates, Money Under 30, and Keeper Tax among other places. Her personal finance blog, Money Smart Latina, won the Plutus Award for "Best Personal Finance Content for Underserved Communities" in 2020 and was nominated for "Blog of the Year" in 2022. When not working she can be found with her main man, a polydactyl cat named Harrison George. 

Katie Powers
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Konstantin has led data teams across multiple industries, including insurance, travel, and biology. He’s led Insurify’s engineering team for more than three years.

Updated September 6, 2023

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If you’re the victim of a hit-and-run, you can file an accident claim through your car insurance company. Depending on your coverage, your insurer may cover some costs related to property damage, bodily injury, and more.

A hit-and-run is when a driver flees the scene after hitting another motor vehicle or pedestrians without stopping to assess damage or exchange contact information. Like all auto accidents, a hit-and-run can cause severe damage, including total loss of your vehicle, injury, and death.

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Does your car insurance cover a hit-and-run?

It’s essential to have enough insurance coverage to protect you on the road — especially if you’re the victim of a hit-and-run. You need to choose auto insurance that will cover you when you need it most.

If your state requires you to purchase uninsured motorist coverage, you may not need to purchase more than the state’s minimum insurance requirements to ensure protection in the event of a hit-and-run. But in most cases, you’ll need to purchase additional coverage, so you should understand how the following types of coverage can protect you.

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    Bodily injury liability

    If you cause an accident, bodily injury liability insurance covers the other driver’s resulting medical expenses related to physical injury. It can kick in for the other driver’s passengers as well. Covered expenses include hospital fees, ongoing medical treatment needed for recovery, and loss of income.

    In some extreme cases, it can also cover pain and suffering, funeral expenses, and attorney and legal fees if someone decides to file a lawsuit against you. This coverage doesn’t cover any of your medical bills and can’t help you in the event of a hit-and-run accident.

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    Property damage liability

    Often purchased in conjunction with bodily injury liability, property damage liability pays for any damage you cause to another driver’s vehicle or other property during an auto accident. It doesn’t cover any of your vehicle damage — even following a hit-and-run accident.

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    Uninsured/underinsured motorist

    Depending on the state you live in, you may need to purchase uninsured motorist coverage to drive legally. Specifics vary, but this insurance typically includes three types of coverage: uninsured motorist bodily injury (UMBI), uninsured motorist property damage (UMPD), and underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage.

    UMBI, UMPD, and UIM insurance can cover your vehicle damage and physical injury caused by an at-fault driver without any or enough auto insurance — or a driver who flees the scene. You should always double-check which coverages your state requires and consider purchasing UM insurance, even if it’s elective.

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    Personal injury protection (PIP)

    You or your passengers may sustain injuries, loss of income, or other types of bodily harm in an auto accident. Personal injury protection (PIP) insurance can cover these expenses, including hospital and doctor bills, lost wages, child care costs, and funeral expenses. This coverage would kick in if you experience a hit-and-run accident. But it isn’t available in every state.

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    Collision

    Your lender or dealer will usually require collision insurance if you finance or lease your vehicle. It covers your vehicle damage from a collision with another vehicle or an object, like a tree or parking fixture, regardless of fault. This coverage will kick in to cover the cost of repairs following a hit-and-run accident.

    Collision coverage doesn’t cover medical costs, car repairs resulting from a non-collision incident, or another driver’s vehicle damage.

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What to do after a hit-and-run accident

Don’t panic if you find yourself in a hit-and-run accident. Given the circumstances, it’s essential to stay as calm as possible. You’ll want to act quickly so that you and any passengers receive compensation for resulting injuries and vehicle damage.

Assess the situation and contact the police

After a hit-and-run, first check to see if everyone in the vehicle is okay. If you can, exit the car safely, but don’t leave the scene. Call 911 immediately to report your accident, as well as any injuries and roadblocks preventing you from exiting the vehicle. If you can’t exit the car, wait until first responders arrive so they can retrieve you.

Gather evidence and take photos

Once you’re safe, document everything you can remember about the vehicle that fled the scene of the accident, including the car’s color, make, and model. Include the full or partial license plate number if you remember it, along with a description of the driver.

Photograph all angles of your car where you have damage.[1] Ask witnesses for details. If you physically can’t document the damage on your own, ask for help from law enforcement at the scene or call a friend. Ask for a copy of the police report so that you can submit this along with your claim to your insurance company.

Contact your insurer and file a claim

After you gather your documentation, it’s time to file your insurance claim. Auto insurers may allow you to file your claim over the phone, on your desktop, or through a mobile app. If you want to speak to a person, call the phone number provided on your insurance card and ask to speak to the claims department. You can also call your insurance agent if you have one.

Important Information

When filing your claim, include any medical bills you or your passengers may have received and the property damage caused in the accident. Submit the police report and photos of the damage to help speed up your claim. The time for your claim to process varies by insurer and claim, but it can take up to a few weeks or months.

Will a hit-and-run claim raise your insurance premium?

Unfortunately, a hit-and-run accident can affect your insurance rates, depending on your insurer, the size of your claim, and your level of fault in the accident. Especially if you did cause the crash, your insurer will typically take measures to protect themselves, which can include increasing your premium to adjust for any new risks you pose.

If you’re not at fault for the accident, you may only face a small increase — or no increase at all. For example, you may lose a discount for having a clean record or remaining accident-free. Your rate change after a hit-and-run accident can also depend on state laws, your insurance policy terms, and whether you have other recent claims.[2]

Hit-and-run FAQs

It’s essential to understand how your current insurance coverage works and how much coverage you need in case you experience a hit-and-run. If you have questions about your coverage, you can review it while referencing the following questions.

  • Do you have to pay your deductible for a hit-and-run?

    Most collision coverage policies — which can cover vehicle damage from a hit-and-run accident — require a deductible. A deductible is the amount you need to pay before coverage from your insurer kicks in after a claim.

    You can typically set your collision deductible between $100 and $2,000. Uninsured motorist coverage doesn’t typically require a deductible, and some states may allow drivers to customize limits or deductibles for PIP coverage.

  • Does insurance cover a hit-and-run for a parked car?

    Collision and uninsured motorist property damage coverage can pay for vehicle damage caused by a hit-and-run, even if the damage occurs to a parked car. Filing a police report and gathering evidence will help your insurance claim go smoothly and get you back on the road.

  • Are there any time limits for filing a hit-and-run insurance claim?

    Generally, you don’t have a set time limit to file a claim, but your state may require you to file it within a time frame of 30 or 60 days. However, you should always file your claim as soon as possible. The longer you take to file, the more likely your insurance company may deny it.

  • When can you expect to receive a decision on a hit-and-run insurance claim?

    Your insurance company generally has around 30 days to look into your claim, but the time frame varies by state. It’s always a good idea to be proactive and check in once a week to ensure it has all the necessary documentation and to ask any additional questions that you may have, as a lack of information can slow your claim.

  • Are you liable for damages if another driver pushed your car into another one by force?

    In this case, the driver who caused the car accident — whether or not they decided to flee the scene — is usually responsible for damage to both cars, leaving you off the hook because it happened by force. Make sure the driver of the vehicle you bumped into doesn’t leave the accident scene so that you can both be present to explain what happened while filing a police report.

Sources

  1. Insurance Information Institute. "How to file an auto insurance claim."
  2. NOLO. "Who Pays in a Hit and Run Accident?."
Athena Valentine Lent
Athena Valentine Lent

Athena Valentine Lent is a finance columnist for Slate and the author of Budgeting for Dummies (Wiley, 2023). Her writing has appeared in BuzzzFeed, The College Investor, GOBankingRates, Money Under 30, and Keeper Tax among other places. Her personal finance blog, Money Smart Latina, won the Plutus Award for "Best Personal Finance Content for Underserved Communities" in 2020 and was nominated for "Blog of the Year" in 2022. When not working she can be found with her main man, a polydactyl cat named Harrison George. 

Katie Powers
Edited byKatie PowersAuto and Life Insurance Editor
Photo of an Insurify author
Katie PowersAuto and Life Insurance Editor
  • Licensed auto and home insurance agent

  • 3+ years experience in insurance and personal finance editing

Katie uses her knowledge and expertise as a licensed property and casualty agent in Massachusetts to help readers understand the complexities of insurance shopping.

Featured in

media logomedia logo
Konstantin Halachev
Data reviewed byKonstantin HalachevVice President of Engineering
Headshot of Konstantin Halachev, VP of Engineering at Insurify
Konstantin HalachevVice President of Engineering
  • 7+ years experience in data analysis

  • Ph.D. in Computational Biology

Konstantin has led data teams across multiple industries, including insurance, travel, and biology. He’s led Insurify’s engineering team for more than three years.

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