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What to Do When Someone Hits Your Car

You may think that if someone else hits your car that it's automatically their fault. This often is the case, but not always, so it's important to take the right steps after an accident.

When someone hits your car, remain at the accident scene and call 911. An officer will come and write an accident report, which you can use for your insurance claim. Next, exchange insurance and contact information with the other driver. You should also contact your insurance carrier so they can help you pay for damages and injuries.

Although accidents are scary, you can keep yourself safe if someone hits your vehicle by following the procedures below.

What to Do When Someone Hits Your Car While You're Driving

If someone hits your car while you're driving on the road, there are several steps you should take:

1. Move To a Safe Location

Get to a safe place. If you're still in traffic, pull over to the side of the road to avoid further damages and injuries. Turn on your hazard lights to warn other drivers about the accident. Use flares and safety cones to slow down traffic and help others to avoid the accident scene. Check yourself and your passengers for injuries. 

2. Call 911

Contact the police, even if no one was hurt. The responding officer will write a police report you can use to file an accident claim with your insurance company. The Insurance Information Institute (III) advises drivers to ask for the officer's name, badge number and an official accident report copy for your records.

3. Gather and Exchange Information

Politely ask the other driver for their contact information as soon as you can. When speaking with the other party, request the following details:

  • Full name
  • Phone number
  • Email
  • Carrier
  • Policy number

Try to engage the other driver as little as possible. Record the driver's vehicle description and license plate number. Don't forget to get contact information from eyewitnesses at the scene.

4. Document the Accident

Next, record pertinent details about the incident, such as the location, date, time and weather. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners also suggests that drivers take accident scene photos that include:

  • Vehicle and tire damage
  • Landmarks, streets and surroundings
  • Debris resulting from the accident

If you don't have a camera handy, some insurance companies will allow you to submit a diagram of the accident scene.

What To Do After a Hit-and-Run Accident

A hit-and-run accident occurs when someone hits your car, then flees the scene without leaving contact information. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 80% of hit-and-run accidents involve vehicle damage only.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 80% of hit-and-run accidents involve vehicle damage only.

After a hit-and-run accident, contact the police. Next, photograph the damage, and record details about the accident.

If there are eyewitnesses, ask for their contact information. Visit nearby businesses with security cameras and ask them for security footage that may have captured the accident. 

If you can't locate the driver, your collision insurance or uninsured motorist coverage may reimburse you.  Your insurance company may sue the hit-and-run driver for damages if they are caught.

What To Do if Someone Hits Your Parked Car

The reporting process for damaged parked cars is similar to crashes involving moving vehicles. Either collision coverage or uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage may cover your damages. When filing a claim through your insurer, you must pay your deductible before you receive a settlement.

Your insurer will only cover damages up to the policy limits, which is the maximum amount allowed for covered claims.

What To Do If You're Injured in an Accident

If you're injured in a car accident, get to a safe location away from traffic and call 911 immediately for immediate medical treatment. If you wait for treatment, you may not get coverage from your insurance policy.

When speaking with doctors, describe all injuries so they will note them in your medical records. Additionally, request comprehensive diagnostic tests. Personal injury attorneys also suggest keeping a detailed diary about your injuries and having someone photograph visible ones. This evidence will support your claim.

Report the accident to law enforcement. If the other driver is responsible, their bodily injury liability insurance will pay your medical expenses. You may also use your Personal Injury Protection or Medical Payments coverage to cover your healthcare expenses if you caused the accident or if the driver is uninsured or underinsured.

Contact your insurer to start the claims process. 

Will Insurance Pay If Someone Hits My Car?

Yes, car insurance may pay for your damages when someone crashes into your vehicle, depending on who is determined to be at fault for the accident and whether your insurer or the other driver's carrier is responsible for the damages.

Liability-only policies will not cover your car damages.

Liability-only policies will not cover your damages, only those you cause to others. You must have collision coverage or uninsured motorist property damage to cover your own damages if at fault.

  • Collision coverage repairs or replaces your vehicle when another car hits it, even if you're at fault. Some insurers allow you to file a claim under this coverage, even if you can't locate the other driver.

  • Uninsured motorist property damage insurance repairs or replaces your vehicle if the other driver is uninsured or flees the scene. 

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What To Do If Someone Hits Your Car But There Is No Visible Damage

It is best to report all accidents to your carrier immediately, even if you live in a no-fault state that covers damages regardless of fault. The only exception is single-vehicle crashes where minor damage has occurred. Instead of filing a claim, pay out-of-pocket for damages to broken fences, mailboxes and other property to avoid a rate hike.

Collisions can still cause damage, even if there are no physical signs. This minor damage can worsen and show up later as the following issues:

  • Leaks may occur because of ruptures in radiators and other fuel-containing parts. These issues later lead to engine damage.

  • A reduction in battery life can take place after the collision. It may knock the battery loose and cause short circuits in its lead plates.

  • Computer diagnostics system and Engine Control Module (ECM) damage may occur during a crash. A damaged system may delay reporting of engine issues.

  • Wheel alignment issues occur after rear-ends. Although the bumper may absorb the initial shock, the crash may throw the wheels out of alignment.

Filing an Insurance Claim After Someone Hits Your Car

Contact your insurer. Your carrier, the other driver's insurance company and officers will work together to determine which driver was at fault. They'll also decide which carrier should cover damages and medical expenses.

If the other party caused the accident, your insurer will help you file a third-party claim against the other driver's insurance company. 

You can submit your claim, either online or by phone, whether you're filing with your insurer or a third-party claim. National insurance carriers, like Allstate and State Farm, have online portals where you can complete the claims process. You can upload accident scene photos and other supplemental evidence to support it.

Monitor Your Claim

After filing a claim, the Insurance Information Institute encourages you to track its progress using the carrier's website or app. Most insurance companies now offer electronic tracking for all claims, including third-party ones.

The insurer's portal will also alert you when there are missing documents you must submit before it processes your claim. You'll usually have to submit these documents before the carrier's deadline.

When monitoring your claim's progress, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does the insurance company have a time limit for filing claims and submitting bills?

  • Is there a deadline to resolve claims disputes with the company?

  • If the insurer requires me to submit additional information, is there a deadline?

  • When should I expect the insurance company to contact me?  

When Will I Get Paid by Insurance?

Once your insurer has processed your claim, it takes 45 days, on average, to receive a settlement. For third-party claims, you'll usually receive a check from the insurance company within 30 days.

Once the insurer approves your claim, it should take 45 days, on average, to receive a check.

What if I'm Not Happy with the Insurance Company's Settlement Offer?

If you're unhappy with the settlement, the Insurance Information Institute suggests there are several steps you can take:

  • If the agent cannot solve your problem, consider contacting your state insurance department. 

  • An independent arbitrator can also decide if the settlement was fair. 

  • As a last resort, contact an attorney who specializes in auto insurance and personal injury cases. Attorneys work either on an hourly rate or a contingency basis, depending on the case you have. 

Does Your Car Insurance Go Up If Someone Hits You?

Your car insurance rates will rise if you have an at-fault accident. Unfortunately, your rates can also increase if you're not responsible. According to the Consumer Federation of America, drivers involved in no-fault accidents saw an average premium increase of 10 percent. In California and Oklahoma, it is illegal for insurers to raise rates after a no-fault accident.

The amount of the rate increase depends largely on the carrier and whether you end up using your own coverage to pay for damages.

The Right Auto Insurance Can Help if Someone Hits Your Car

When someone hits your vehicle, immediately call 911 and your insurer. Law enforcement will determine who caused the crash, and you can use the accident report to support your claim.

The other driver's liability insurance will cover your damages when the person caused the accident. Your collision insurance will cover your repairs when you're at fault. Uninsured motorist insurance will pay for your medical expenses and repairs when a hit-and-run driver damages your vehicle and leaves the scene.

Your vehicle is your most valuable asset that deserves the best insurance protection. If you're unhappy with your insurer's claims process, consider finding a carrier that better suits your needs.  SmartFinancial can help you get free auto insurance quotes from quality insurers. Just enter your zip code below to get started.

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