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Edited by Jackie Cohen
Updated September 19, 2022
Getting into a car accident is never a pleasant experience. Unlike other types of collisions, a hit-and-run is unique because the other party intentionally flees the scene, leaving the victim with the less-than-ideal responsibility of filing an insurance claim without the other party’s auto insurance policy. This can leave many of us wondering who has to pay in a hit-and-run accident.
The good news is that having insurance coverage can help if you find yourself the victim of a hit-and-run. Owning a policy can save you from paying for medical bills, property damage, and other expenses out of pocket. Use Insurify’s car insurance comparison tools to get great auto insurance rates you can afford. With hundreds of insurance companies, find the best fit for you!
Collision coverage or uninsured motorist coverage is the most helpful in this situation.
Unfortunately, the victim is left to pay for expenses if they don’t have an insurance policy.
If you’re the at-fault driver, never leave the scene of an accident, as you can be charged.
If You Get Hit: Car Insurance Coverage That Will Help You
Are hit-and-runs covered by insurance companies?
Most full coverage insurance policies with uninsured motorist protections will protect policyholders after a hit-and-run.
No matter what the circumstances are, it’s always a good idea to have an auto insurance policy. Having the right types of coverage can make sure you’re not left paying for damage, medical payments, or other bills all by yourself. Available add-ons and protection will vary depending on your insurance provider and state, but here are a few basic pieces you can get to protect yourself:
Collision coverage: One of the most common types of coverage, collision insurance helps with the costs required to repair or replace your car if it’s damaged in an accident. For example, if you get into a fender bender, back up into a fence, or hit a tree, you’ll be covered. It’s usually required by the lender if you’re leasing or financing a car.
Uninsured motorist coverage: This is a loose term for different types of coverage that you can carry to protect yourself in case you’re hit by a motorist who drives away without exchanging contact information or who doesn’t have liability coverage (either enough or any at all). These are the two types of uninsured coverage you should know about:
Uninsured motorist bodily injury (UBMI): If a driver is at fault for causing any bodily harm, then they’re responsible for paying for medical expenses. However, if they don’t have any liability insurance or enough to cover your costs, you might have to pay the medical bills yourself. In this case, it’s helpful to carry UBMI.
Uninsured motorist property damage (UMPD): This is a good option for drivers who want to protect their property (like their car, other possessions, and land). Extra property damage coverage is especially useful if you don’t have collision coverage on your policy because it helps pay for car repairs past the other driver’s auto policy limits.
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If You Hit Someone Else: Car Insurance Coverage That Can Help
Being at fault for a car accident is never a good feeling, but having the right types of coverage can give you peace of mind to help make sure that you are not stuck paying bills out of pocket. Having a car insurance policy saves you from the temptation of fleeing the scene, a crime you can be charged with. While you’ll have to pay a deductible or other costs, it’s better than jail time.
Whether it’s a small accident, like backing up into a parked car by mistake while pulling out of the driveway, or a bigger collision, like ramming into another vehicle after rolling through a stop sign, drivers who are at fault are responsible for paying for damage or medical bills for themselves and any other parties involved. This is why states ask—or even require—drivers to be insured.
Liability insurance: If you are at fault, this can cover the victims (the driver and any other passengers). Your car insurance company can help cover medical expenses, missed wages due to injury, costs to repair damage and more. Maybe one of the most crucial types of coverage, nearly all states make it mandatory for drivers to have this on their policies.
Note that this type of coverage does not protect any damage or medical bills for you or your passengers. You should buy collision, comprehensive, or medical payments (MedPay) coverage in that case. It would help cover your legal costs if the other party decided to file a suit against you in court, though.
Personal injury protection (PIP): Like comprehensive coverage, this type of insurance helps cover costs, regardless of who’s at fault. PIP can help cover medical bills for any bodily injuries that you caused or sustained, any missed income due to injuries, or even funeral costs if the accident has tragically fatal outcomes. Many states require this.
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If You Hit a Car, Never Leave the Scene
If you get into an auto accident, leaving the scene is a crime. Always stay to exchange contact information, be sure to understand your insurance information, and offer to help file the police report. This is your responsibility if you’re involved in an at-fault accident. Law enforcement can charge you with a misdemeanor or a felony that stays on your driving record if you get caught.
Being responsible for a hit-and-run claim can have serious consequences. Some state laws ask for fines ranging from $5,000 to $20,000. On top of that, perpetrators can even face jail time as a punishment, depending on the nature of the accident. If you cause severe injuries and drive away, then a felony hit-and-run could result in up to 15 years in prison. Always stay and help!
Whether it’s a misdemeanor or a felony, a fleeing the scene is never worth it. Even if it seems minor, misdemeanors can lead to fines of up to $5,000 and one year in jail in some states. If you leave an accident because you’re worried about a rate increase, there are ways to lessen costs
for the future. This is one of the reasons why it’s important to have the right driver’s insurance.
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What to Do If You Get into an Accident
No matter how careful you are, accidents happen. If you’re at fault, the most important thing to do is to stay behind and do a few simple things to make sure you have your bases covered for when you or the other party file a claim. Here are some important actions you should take to make sure you don’t end up paying more than you need to or risk other consequences:
Stay at the scene of the accident: No matter the size of the damage, stay behind to help with the next steps or leave a note if you hit a parked car. On top of risking breaking state laws, you could face even more severe consequences if you get caught. You could lose your license, face jail time, or have to file an SR-22. None of this is worth the risk of leaving.
Make sure everyone’s OK: While this seems like it should go without saying, be sure to check on yourself, everyone in your car, and everyone in the car that was hit. It’s easy to forget when you feel overwhelmed or panicked by a collision, but the first thing you should check is if anyone needs immediate medical attention. If so, call 911 right away.
Exchange contact information: This is one of the main reasons why hit-and-runs are illegal—they make it really difficult for the hit party to make the appropriate claims on their medical payments and damage to their vehicle. After an accident, be sure to stick around so you can swap names, contact information, insurance, and any other details.
Assess and document damage: Being in a state of stress or panic can make people forget key details or small things, like their environments or the weather. Be sure to take pictures and notes of everything: your car, property, the vehicle that was impacted, street signs, and more. Even if it doesn’t seem important, it all helps when you file your claims.
Why Different Types of Coverage Are So Important
Long story short: There are different types of coverage that exist to protect you from a hit-and-run, whether you’re the victim or at fault. If you find yourself hit, collision coverage or uninsured (or underinsured) motorist coverage can help. If you hit someone else, never leave the scene. Carrying liability insurance or personal injury protection will help cover the costs of your mistake.
If you’re thinking of leaving an accident because you don’t have a policy or you’re worried about how filing a claim could raise your insurance premium, this is where Insurify can help. We help drivers get the best deals on quotes with our car insurance comparison tools. This way, you don’t have to worry about driving around uninsured or without the coverage you need to be safe.
Frequently Asked Questions
Leaving the scene of an accident is a crime and can get you charged with a misdemeanor or felony that stays on your driving record for years. Even if you think you got away with it, security cameras make it easy to find license plate numbers or other evidence that can be used to identify people or their motor vehicles. It’s never worth it to leave an accident, no matter how minor it is.
If you think you might be especially prone to hit-and-run accidents, then you most likely want to include collision coverage and multiple types of uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage on your policy. This could be a good idea if you live on a busy street where parked cars are more likely to get hit without accountability. Comprehensive coverage could help as bonus coverage.
No matter how small you think the scratch is, or if you think no one will ever find out that you hit a parked car with no one in it, it’s never worth it to leave the scene. Filing a claim might raise your car insurance rates, but there are plenty of ways to save, like shopping around to switch providers or qualifying for discounts. Talk with an insurance agent to help you figure out options.
The bad news is yes, filing a claim or having violations and collisions on your driving history typically causes car insurance rates to rise. However, the good news is that there are still ways to save on how much you pay for your policy! The best and easiest way to get a good deal—whether from the beginning or if you’re switching insurers—is by shopping around for the best rates.
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Data scientists at Insurify analyzed over 40 million auto insurance rates across the United States to compile the car insurance quotes, statistics, and data visualizations displayed on this page. The car insurance data includes coverage analysis and details on drivers' vehicles, driving records, and demographic information. With these insights, Insurify is able to offer drivers insight into how their car insurance premiums are priced by companies.