Short Answer: Yes – car insurance does cover hit and run accidents, provided that you carry collision or uninsured property damage coverage.
Hit and Run Accidents
What do you think of when you think of a hit and run? Sometimes, hit and runs involve bodily injuries – like when a vehicle collides with a pedestrian. Other times, hit and run accidents involve someone hitting a parked car and driving off. Although it is highly illegal, hit and runs are common in situations where the offender might fear the police, or where the offender is uninsured. Generally, the victim’s age is the largest factor in whether the driver flees the scene.
On average, there are over 700,000 hit and run accidents every year – that amounts to more than 1 hit and run accident every minute in the U.S. Surprisingly, almost 70% of these hit and run collisions involve a parked car!
What to Do If You’re the Victim of a Hit and Run
What should you do if you are the victim of a hit and run? Perhaps you were out at a restaurant for lunch or running errands, and you notice a new dent in your vehicle that was not there when you parked. You look around – but to no avail; the offender is long gone. Here is what you should do:
- Stay where you are: remember that you are at the scene of an accident, and if you leave you may lose potentially important evidence. Write down the date, time, and location of the incident. Take photos or, if you can, a video of the accident scene – get a variety of different angles, including general shots and close-ups of specific damage. Make sure to take close up photos of any evidence of the other car, like contrasting paint that may have been left behind.
- Check for cameras and witnesses. Many grocery stores or bank parking lots will have cameras set up around the vicinity – you may be lucky enough to find footage of the offender. If another person witnessed the hit and run, make sure to get their name and contact information if you or your insurance needs to get in touch with them in the future.
- Call the police. Some states require that you file a police report, but other jurisdictions may not even send a police officer out for mere hit and run cases (especially in larger metropolitan areas, police officers may only come out when someone has experienced bodily injury). The purpose of this police report is to preserve any evidence found at the scene.
- Contact your insurance company. Notify your insurance company promptly that you have been the victim of a hit and run – the sooner you contact them regarding the incident, the sooner they can help you expedite your claim so you can be reimbursed for the repair costs.
- Consider contacting an attorney who specializes in car accidents or personal injury settlements. They may be able to help you navigate the claims process to maximize your damage recovery.
Filing a Claim for Hit and Run Accidents
Generally, hit and run accidents mean that it is difficult or nearly impossible to identify the driver who hit your vehicle. However, this does not mean that you cannot or are not covered by insurance. If you have been the victim of a hit and run, you will have to file a claim with your own insurance company. Uninsured motorist coverage typically compensates drivers for damages incurred from a hit and run accident. However, not all states require that you have uninsured motorist coverage, so it is important to check with your insurance company to find out which type of coverage you need to be safe from hit and run accidents. It is important to ask your insurance company if collision coverage will cover the cost of repairs if your car is hit while it is parked.
Hit and Run Guidance for Animals
The Road Traffic Act of 1988 requires that drivers report to hitting an animal; not doing so is technically also classified as a hit and run. However, this act only requires reporting on certain types of animals – namely, livestock or farm animals. Specifically, drivers are required to report when they hit dogs, goats, horses, cattle, donkeys, mules, sheep, and pigs. States will have specific statutes to address who is at fault if you are involved in a vehicle collision with livestock, and whether or not your insurance will cover the cost of damage to your vehicle may depend on the state where the accident happened. However, so long as it is safe to do so, it is a good idea to stop after you hit any type of animal, be it pet cat, livestock, or wildlife. That way, you can administer care to the animal and assess the damage to your vehicle.