Who pays if someone hits your car?

If someone hits your car, they are legally responsible for the damage. That's why most states require drivers to carry liability insurance; when a driver is at fault in an accident, that insurance pays for the resulting damage. If that person doesn't have insurance, they can be held personally responsible for any bills, but you will likely need to sue.

In the simplest situation, the other driver is found at fault, they have insurance, and the insurance company pays for the repairs to your car (as well as any medical bills if there are injuries); you don't pay anything in this situation.

However, sometimes accidents can get more complex. The other driver may be uninsured or leave the accident scene without providing any information. In that case, your insurance may pay for the damage, but only if you have the correct coverage on your policy.

What to do if someone hits your car

If someone hits your car, take the following steps:

  • Make sure everyone is okay, and move the vehicles out of traffic if possible.
  • If there is major damage, call the police; if there are injuries, call an ambulance.
  • Exchange insurance and contact information with the other driver.
  • Take photos of the scene and the damage.
  • Look for witnesses and ask for their contact information.
  • Call your insurance company, even if you believe the other driver is at fault.

If someone hits your parked car but has left the scene before you arrived, follow most of the same steps above. However, in this case, you may also want to check if there are security cameras in the area. If there is no note left, call the police and make a hit-and-run report.

Whatever the situation, you should always call your own insurance company, even if you believe the other driver will be found at fault.

Will my insurance company pay if someone hits my car?

If someone hits your car, your car insurance company only reimburses you for the damages if you carry collision coverage or uninsured motorist property damage insurance. Those who don’t carry these types of coverage must pay out of pocket to fix their car.

Collision coverage also protects you if the vehicle was parked when hit. In some cases, uninsured motorist property damage insurance covers you in this situation, but that’s not true in all states.

What information do you need when someone hits your car?

You need to exchange information if you’re involved in an accident with another driver. Some of the things on this list include:

  • Full name and contact information for the driver
  • Insurance company name and policy number
  • Driver's license and license plate number
  • Key information about the other vehicle, such as type, color, and model

Note the location of the accident and take pictures of both cars and surrounding landmarks. If there are witnesses, find out what they saw and ask for names and contact information.

Never admit fault in the accident or discuss details of what occurred with the other driver.

Do I have to tell my insurance company if the damage is minor?

You don’t have to tell your insurance company if your car has been hit and the damage is minor. Still, such a decision can be a mistake, says Carole Walker, executive director of the Rocky Mountain Insurance Association.

“There are major risks to not involving your insurance company from the start and deciding to pay out-of-pocket for any damages,” Walker says.

Walker says that car repairs may be more expensive and take longer than you anticipate, especially with current supply chain shortages of technology, labor, and car parts.

Other issues also can arise.

“The other driver may not have insurance, deny any responsibility for the crash or blame you after the fact, leaving you to pay for any medical and vehicle repairs,” Walker says.

It’s even possible the other driver could sue you for damages, she says.

What do you do when the other driver is uninsured?

If you get into an accident with an uninsured driver, call the police to make sure they file a report about the accident. This will establish a record with the details of the wreck, which can help you get reimbursed.

Even if the driver doesn't have insurance, get their contact information. Also, get contact information from any witnesses.

Call your insurance company and explain that an uninsured driver hit you. Your insurer will know how to handle the situation. If you have uninsured motorist coverage, the insurer will reimburse your losses. Your own collision coverage can also be used to reimburse you.

However, if you don’t have these coverage options, you may be on the hook for the expenses unless you can successfully sue the uninsured driver for damages.

How to file an insurance claim when someone hits your car

Every insurance company has requirements to file a claim. Reach out to your insurer, check your auto insurance policy or look at the insurer’s website to learn how to file your claim correctly.

However, as a general rule, most insurance companies will expect you to:

  • Call your insurer promptly. Do this early, even from the scene of the accident. Ask your agent or a company representative what information and forms you must provide.
  • Begin the claims process. This can often be done on the insurer's app. You may be able to do everything from uploading photos to getting a rental car.
  • Ask about deadlines and how the process will unfold. Make sure you understand what steps to take and the deadlines. Ask how the process will unfold, including approximate time frames for when the adjuster will address the claim and how long it might be before you have your reimbursement check. Ask if you need to get estimates for repairing the damage.

When should you file a claim, and when should you pay out of pocket?

You purchase car insurance to reimburse you for damages after an accident. So, paying out-of-pocket expenses for repairs -- rather than using your insurance to cover them -- may seem strange.

However, some people may prefer to skip using their insurance coverage in some instances. If the damage is minor, a driver may prefer to write a check rather than filing a claim and potentially seeing insurance rates rise.

Is this a wise course of action? It depends.

Some experts caution against doing this because damages or injuries may be more extensive than they first appear. There’s a chance you will write a check only to have the driver come back later to request more reimbursement for damages.

By filing a police report and an insurance claim, you establish on the record what happened, potentially limiting the financial damages you may incur.

”Whether you are the victim or cause a car crash, immediately contacting insurance and filing a claim is the wisest course of action to protect you and your pocketbook,” Walker says.

Auto insurance FAQs

Do insurance companies cover a hit-and-run?

If your vehicle is damaged in a hit-and-run accident, your insurance may cover the damages, but it’s not guaranteed in all instances.

You must have collision insurance or uninsured motorist property damage coverage. If you don’t carry these types of insurance, your insurer won’t cover the damages.

In addition, if you claim your policy, you likely will be responsible for paying the deductible before your coverage kicks in.

What if someone hits my car, and I don’t have auto insurance?

First off, not having auto insurance – regardless of whether someone hits your car –- is illegal in most states. If you’re caught driving without insurance, you could face fines and other penalties, including losing your driver’s license. So, you should always have auto insurance if you own and drive a car.

However, if you don’t have insurance and your car is damaged, you will be on the hook to cover all repair or replacement expenses.

How long does a claim stay on my record?

The length of time a claim will stay on your insurance record varies by insurance carrier, Walker notes. However, she adds that as an estimate, you can expect the claim to follow you for between three and five years.

Does my insurance go up if someone hits me?

Your rates may climb if you file a claim, even if you were not responsible for the damage. But in most cases, the circumstances surrounding the crash -- and your role in it -- determine if your rates rise.

“The insurance consequences of an auto claim will mostly depend on whether you are at fault and any high-risk behavior that caused the crash – for example, speeding, drunk or high driving, running a red light,” Walker says.

Will my insurance go up if someone hits my parked car?

It depends on the amount of the claim and your insurance company's policies, but in many cases you won't see an increase when you're not at fault.

“Premiums typically rise if you are at fault,” Walker says. “If the damage was caused by a hit-and-run or even by another driver when your car is parked, that will likely have less or even no impact on your premiums, depending on the circumstances.”