Car Insurance and a Hit and Run Accident
Hit-and-run accidents can happen anywhere. They may take place when a person is driving to work or taking their children to daycare. Others occur when a careless driver smashes into an unoccupied car's bumper or a drunk motorist pummels into a vehicle then flees the scene.
These unexpected accidents can leave victims feeling angry, betrayed and frustrated, especially if they're left to pay mounting medical expenses and car repairs. Additionally, they may not know which car insurance coverages, if any, will cover their damages and hospital bills.
No one thinks an accident can happen to them until it does. Before you're involved in a hit-and-run incident, you should make sure you have enough coverage to protect yourself in case the worst happens. In this article, you'll learn which kinds of auto insurance will protect you during a hit-and-run accident.
What Is a Hit-and-Run Accident?
A hit-and-run accident occurs when someone causes a collision and intentionally leaves the scene. They don't stop to exchange insurance information with another driver, nor do they wait for a police officer to arrive to take a report. The at-fault driver is unknown unless other witnesses provide information to identify the driver.
There are three types of hit-and-run incidents: collisions that occur between vehicles, accidents between cars and pedestrians and even incidents with objects and property. Here are some examples of hit-and-run scenarios that can occur:
- A car rear-ends you, then speeds off from the scene.
- A driver hits a pedestrian but flees the scene.
- An automobile hits a parked car but leaves no contact information or way to collect payment for damages.
What Is a Miss-and-Run Accident?
Phantom drivers cause miss-and-run accidents. These are individuals who cause another driver to crash into a third vehicle. The phantom driver doesn't stop to render assistance. The person flees the scene of an accident, leaving the second and third drivers to deal with the consequences.
There doesn't have to be physical contact between the phantom driver and the second driver for the accident to occur. For instance, the phantom driver can cut the second driver off, and the second driver swerves to avoid crashing into them. It causes the second driver to crash into the third car in an adjoining lane.
Miss-and-run incidents have similar consequences as hit-and-run accidents. There is no at-fault driver who can pay for damages to these motor vehicles or medical costs.
Who Pays for a Hit and Run Crash?
A hit-and-run accident can be upsetting. It will not only affect you emotionally but it may also impact you physically if you suffer from a serious injury because of the accident. You may even have financial issues if your medical injuries cause you to miss work, or you have high hospital bills, but who is responsible for paying down these expenses after an at-fault driver flees a scene?
Who will reimburse you for your vehicle damage, medical fees or lost wages caused after the car accident? This all depends on where you live and whether you can identify the driver.
Your insurance company will most likely process these accident claims when you can't identify the driver. In many states, you'll use your uninsured motorist bodily injury and uninsured property damage because the hit-and-run driver was at fault. On most auto insurance policies, this coverage is generally affordable.
When someone hits you, and you're able to identify them, they will be responsible for these bills, if they're found at fault for the car accident. After the shock of the accident wears off, write down their license plate number and call the police. You can also get footage from security cameras to find the other driver's license plate.
Law enforcement has electronic databases of license plate numbers that may help track down the hit-and-run driver's coverage.
Getting the Best Coverage for Hit and Run Accidents
No driver believes that they'll be involved in a hit-and-run accident, but these types of accidents happen every day. According to the Insurance Information Institute, people can protect themselves against the financial consequences of a hit-and-run accident.
The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration says that 80 percent of these accidents cause vehicle damage only. Therefore, the biggest expenses for most people are repairs and the cost of a replacement vehicle.
To protect yourself, you'll need the right coverages to protect yourself before this situation happens to you.
Most states classify hit and run drivers as uninsured motorists. You'll need the following coverage on your auto policies to protect yourself and your property during a hit-and-run accident:
- Collision coverage
- Uninsured motorist property damage coverage (UMPD) - Not available in every state
- Uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage (UMBI)
- Medical payments coverage and/or Personal injury protection (PIP)
Even if you have enough coverage to protect yourself, make sure you have enough coverage on your policy in case the other person doesn't. Many insurance companies impose coverage limits.
It's the maximum amount of money that your policy will pay for each covered claim. Sometimes, your hospital expenses may exceed the coverage you have. If this is the case, you will have to pay for your hospital bills out-of-pocket.
If you track down the hit-and-run driver, you can file an accident claim with their insurance company to obtain compensation. You may be able to recoup some of these out-of-pocket expenses. When the person doesn't have enough coverage, you can retain an attorney and file a lawsuit against the person.
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Coverage that Can Protect Drivers after a Hit-and-Run Accident
Are you confused about what the types of coverage you'll need? In this section, we'll talk about ones that may protect you if the other driver fails to stop after a hit-and-run incident.
1. Collision Coverage
This beneficial coverage, along with comprehensive coverage, protects you when another driver damages your car and flees the scene. Collision coverage pays for property damages, such as repairs when a vehicle collides with an object like a pole, guardrail, tree or another automobile in a parking lot.
It can also help repair or replace your vehicle after a collision takes place. Depending on your insurance, you'll only have to pay your deductible, even when the auto accident isn't your fault. If the police track down the driver and they have insurance, you might be able to recover the deductible from the driver or their insurer.
Does your auto insurance policy provide enough collision coverage for you? If not, you can search for affordable coverage using SmartFinancial. Just enter your zip code to start.
2. Uninsured Motorist Property Damage (UMPD)
If you don't have collision coverage, you may want to buy uninsured motorist coverage to protect your car. Some states and insurance companies consider drivers who leave the scene after an accident as uninsured. Obtaining UMPD is usually inexpensive, and you can add it even if you don't have collision coverage for your vehicle. You may have to pay a deductible.
A few states don't allow UMPD policies to cover these accidents. You'll need to add collision coverage to your car to protect against damages in one of these incidents. The states that don't allow for UMPD to be used to pay for losses from a hit-and-run accident include:
3. Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury (UMBI)
This coverage is similar to UMPD, but instead of covering damage to your car, it protects against medical fees that you may have following a hit-and-run accident. You should consider getting UMBI and Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage (if your state allows it), especially if you don't have health insurance coverage at the moment. If you don't have either one, you may have to pay these expenses out of your pocket.
4. Medical Payments Coverage and Personal Injury Protection (PIP)
Medical payments coverage generally pays for an accident, regardless of who is at fault. You can also rely on this coverage after a hit-and-run incident. It can pay for your passengers' medical bills after an accident takes place. This coverage generally doesn't have a deductible and isn't available in all states.
Personal injury protection (PIP) helps plan for your medical costs for you, or your passengers, regardless of fault. It covers your medical bills if you're involved in a hit-and-run accident. PIP works similar to health insurance after a car accident takes place. Additionally, this coverage may pay for rehabilitation treatments.
This coverage may pay for lost wages if you can't work. It can also pay for child care and other necessities you'll need when you can't take care of your kids. PIP coverage varies depending on your state. It's not available in all areas, but mandatory in some. You may have a deductible depending on your state's laws. PIP is required in some states.
Will I Have to Pay a Deductible for a Hit-and-Run Insurance Claim?
The circumstances of your accident will determine whether you'll need to pay a deductible on your claim. It will also depend on the type of auto insurance coverage that you have. When you suffer injuries in a hit-and-run accident, you can make a claim with your UMBI coverage.
You will not have to pay a deductible on this depending on the insurer you have. If a hit-and-run driver damages your car, you may make an insurance claim on your collision coverage.
Generally, these have a deductible, so you'll have to pay it before your insurance coverage begins. When you are in a hit-and-run accident that involves multiple damages (for example, car damage and injuries), you may have to pay multiple deductibles.
Will a Hit-and-Run Raise Your Car Insurance Rates?
These claims will go on your insurance record, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. If you have frequent car crashes and submit multiple claims, it may affect the price of your auto insurance premiums in the future.
You may also be denied coverage. That is why it's best to only file a claim for damages you can't pay for on your own. Besides, small fixes are not worth paying a large deductible.
Does Liability Insurance Cover Hit-and-Run Accidents?
Liability coverage won't pay off your hit-and-run claim. It pays for another person's injuries when you cause injuries or damages. Your auto liability coverage won't cover your medical expenses or car repairs after a hit-and-run accident. This coverage only pays out damages when you're at fault in a collision. It pays for the injuries of another person and their passengers.
If you learn the identity of the hit-and-run driver, you can make a claim, and their liability coverage may cover your accident. You can't make a claim on your own liability coverage.
Tips to Protect Yourself if you're Involved in a Hit and Run Car Accident
Hopefully, you'll never be involved in a hit-and-run accident. Unfortunately, life happens. If someone hits you, they are legally required to stop and render reasonable assistance. If not, here are five tips to follow to protect yourself that can streamline the claims process.
Although you may be upset, you should take a few moments to calm down so you can remember as many details as possible. It can help you remember details that can help the police identify the hit-and-run driver. It also enables your car insurance company to make a better decision about your claim.
Pull over into a safe spot and make sure your passengers are okay. Make sure no one has any medical issues or a serious injury. If so, contact your local emergency department immediately or take the injured person to the nearest hospital.
Record as many details about the other vehicle as possible. Try to remember as much identifying information about the car as possible, including the other vehicle's make, model, color and license plate number. You can also include some information about the driver. Additionally, include your driver's license and insurance information.
Take photos of the accident scene. If you can, get shots of the vehicle involved in the crash. Also, take photographs of other damages associated with the crash.
Find any possible eyewitness accounts of the accident. Get witness statements. Ask for the names and contact information of every person that has seen the accident.
Note the time and location of your accident, along with the sequence of events. Do this before you leave the scene. These details may include what direction the at-fault driver was headed after leaving the scene. If you're not injured, take note of any damage and take pictures of it with your cell phone.
If your car was unoccupied when it was hit, take down as many details as possible about the accident. Follow the first two steps, such as recording the time, location, and other details.
Get footage from surveillance cameras. If possible, speak to surrounding stores that have surveillance cameras. Ask them if you can get footage from the area around the time the accident occurred. You can also request police officers to obtain these recordings.
Next, contact the police. You'll need to make an official police report with law enforcement as part of your hit-and-run claim. Submit it even if you're not sure of any information you can tell about the missing driver. Include any information about witnesses and other important details. This evidence will help support your claim when you speak with an insurer.
Finally, call your insurance company to file your hit-and-run claim. It will walk you through the steps about how to file your claim. Make sure to submit the official accident report as part of your evidence. Your insurer will also notify you about how they will process it.
Should I Get Legal Advice?
Criminal defense attorneys can help you if you are able to identify the other driver. They may also help you with an insurance claim. It's a good idea to get a consultation from an attorney who specializes in civil penalties resulting from hit-and-runs, at the very least for informational purposes.
Someone leaving the scene of an accident is not only breaking traffic laws but may face a license suspension, possibly a lifetime revocation and jail time if there are serious injuries or death. Yes, leaving the scene of the accident may be defined as a felony depending on the severity of the accident so prison time is not ruled out.
Find the Right Insurance Before a Hit and Run Driver Hits your Vehicle
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