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Key takeaways

  • After any hit and run or any other type of auto accident, report the incident to police and to your insurer immediately.
  • If you're the victim of a hit and run, it's important to consult your insurer. You may be covered depending on what type of coverage you have.
  • A hit and run usually won't increase your insurance rates, but in some cases it might.

A hit and run can be scary and frustrating. Whether a car hits you while you're behind the wheel and takes off, or your car is hit in a parking lot, you're left unsure of what to do and with damage to your car.

Your insurance will help after a hit and run, but you will likely have to pay your deductible. Read on for more details on how to handle a hit and run accident.

What to do after a hit and run

hit and run insuranceEven though you won't have the name of the driver who caused the wreck, you should collect whatever information is available. You also should try to remember whatever details you can.

Immediately report the incident to police and to your insurance company, says Carrie Bonney, a spokeswoman for Farmers Insurance.

You should also:

  • Try to record a description of the other vehicle and its driver.
  • Write down the details of what occurred. Make note of which direction the other vehicle headed after causing the wreck.
  • Get the names and contact information for any witnesses.
  • Get the names and badge numbers of the police officers who responded.
  • Take photos of the accident scene and the vehicles involved, as well as any other property damage.
  • Contact the business or organization nearest the accident scene and inquire about any available surveillance camera footage.

Does insurance cover a hit and run?

If you're the victim of a hit and run, you're covered only if you have bought particular types of coverage. Liability insurance -- mandatory virtually everywhere -- does not cover you or your car.

You must have collision coverage and pay the deductible if your car is damaged. It costs $526 a year, on average, to get collision insurance, according to an Insurance.com rate analysis.

In a few states, uninsured motorist property damage insurance may cover part or all of the damage that your vehicle sustains. However, uninsured motorist property damage coverage isn't available in all states. And the following states don't allow you to use that coverage for hit and runs: California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana and Ohio.

However, in some states, such as Louisiana, if you have an unbiased witness to the hit and run, you may be able to use your uninsured motorist property damage insurance to cover your losses.

To be covered for injuries, you must have purchased personal injury protection (PIP), medical payments or uninsured motorist bodily injury liability coverage. In some states, these coverages are mandatory; in most, they're not.

If you do not have any type of medical coverage or uninsured motorist bodily injury, many states also have crime victim compensation programs that you may be able to tap to help pay medical bills. For example, California has the Victim Compensation Program (CalVCP), and Florida offers Crime Victim Compensation.

Will a hit-and-run claim raise my insurance rates?

There's no set answer as to what kind of things will cause your auto insurance rates to increase, since rates vary based on state laws and an insurer’s own internal guidelines.

However, if you're the victim of a hit-and-run accident and file a claim, chances are your rates won't increase. Typically, a single not-at-fault collision or uninsured motorist bodily injury claim is unlikely to raise your car insurance.

But if it’s one of multiple claims during the company’s look-back period, usually three years, it could contribute to a rate increase.

What is a 'miss and run'?

An accident is considered a “miss and run,” or is said to be caused by a "phantom driver," when one vehicle causes another one to crash and then leaves the scene, Bonney says.

There doesn't even have to be contact between the two vehicles for the accident to occur. For example, another vehicle could suddenly swerve into your lane. If you then swerve to avoid the first car and crash, it's a miss and run.

Both miss and runs and hit and runs can have the same repercussions -- an injured person, damaged vehicle or damaged property -- and there is no at-fault driver who can be held responsible for the accident.

What happens if I hit a parked car and run? Or if I hit a moving car?

Leaving the scene of an accident is against the law. Every state requires that drivers stop after an accident to exchange information or render aid if needed.

That applies even in parking lots. Security cameras and eyewitnesses lead to more arrests than you might guess. If you're caught, expect to pay for both the damage to the other person’s car and for the crime of leaving the scene.

A hit and run may be a misdemeanor or a felony. It’s more likely to be a felony if someone has been injured. Criminal penalties can include fines as much as $20,000 and up to 15 years in prison. Even as a misdemeanor, you could face significant fines and up to a year in jail.

There are administrative penalties as well. In New Jersey, for example, leaving the scene of a property-damage accident is 2 points on your motor vehicle record; if there’s an injury, the penalty is 8 points.

A conviction for leaving the scene may trigger an SR-22 requirement in many states as well.

If you're convicted of a hit-and-run accident, your car insurance rates are likely to go up by 87%, on average, but could increase by much more, depending on what state you live in, among other factors. You'll see in the table below how much car insurance rates rise after a hit-and-run conviction.

State Average rate Hit-and-run Percent increase
North Carolina$1,170$5,508371%
New Mexico$1,498$2,78786%
New Jersey$1,419$2,61184%
West Virginia$1,467$2,68183%
New Hampshire$1,156$2,08080%
North Dakota$1,123$2,00579%
Rhode Island$2,011$3,57178%
South Dakota$1,250$2,20877%
South Carolina$1,353$2,22665%
New York$1,214$1,89156%

Source: Insurance.com commissioned Quadrant Information Services to field insurance rates from up to six major insurers in 10 ZIP codes in each state for male, age 40 driving 2017 Honda Accord. Base rate is for full coverage.

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