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Nobody enjoys seeing their car hit by another driver. Whether a driver smashes into you while you’re driving the vehicle or plows into the car when it’s parked, you may face an expensive repair bill.

However, learning the right steps to take in the wake of an accident can make the claims process less painful. Wondering what to do if someone hits your car? Read on to learn more.

KEY TAKEAWAYS
  • Whether or not a car insurance company reimburses you for damages depends on your insurance coverage.
  • Collision coverage typically covers damages if someone hits your car.
  • Getting as much information as you can about a car accident -- including taking photos and writing down notes -- helps facilitate the claims process.
  • It’s always best to report the damage to your insurance company, even if the damage is minor.
  • Your auto insurance rates may increase after you file a claim.

What to do when someone hits your car?

If someone hits your car while you’re in it, make sure to get your vehicle out of harm’s way. Then, exchange insurance information with the other driver.

If someone hits your parked car but has fled the scene before you arrived, ask around and see if there were any witnesses to the incident. Take photos of what happened and call the police so you can file a report. Make sure to get a copy of the accident report, as well as the officer’s name and badge number.

Write down as much information as possible about the accident and what you know about it. At this point, you can call your insurance company and file a claim if you choose. If the driver left a note, let your insurance provider know that information.

Whatever the situation, you should always call your own insurance company, even if you believe the other driver will be found at fault. The other driver may not call their insurance company. By contacting your own insurer, that company can also contact the other driver's insurance company.

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 will need to pay out of pocket to fix their car.

Collision coverage also protects you if the vehicle was parked when it was 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 I need to get from the other driver after an accident?

If you’re involved in an accident with another driver, you want to exchange information. Some of the things on this list include the other driver's:

  • Full name and contact information
  • 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.

You shouldn’t admit fault in the accident or discuss details of what occurred with the other driver.

Make sure to call the police and file a report. Then, call your insurance company and tell your insurance agent or a representative about what happened. They can then notify the other party's insurance company if the other insurance company wasn't notified by the other party.

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, but 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?

Nearly every state requires drivers to carry at least a minimum amount of car insurance. Yet, about one in eight drivers doesn’t have such coverage, according to the Insurance Research Council.

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, make sure to get his or her contact information. Also, get contact information from any witnesses.

You also should take pictures of the accident and the surrounding scene, get a copy of the report from the police officer and generally take all the steps you would after any accident.

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 also can 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 if someone hits your car

Every insurance company has its own requirements to file a claim. So, you must reach out to your insurer, check your auto insurance policy or look at the insurer’s website to learn exactly how to file your claim the right way.

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 will need to provide.
  • Begin the claims process. This can often be done on your smartphone by using 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, the notion of 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 simply 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 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.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a hit and run covered by insurance companies?

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.

For starters, to get coverage, you will need to have either 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 make a claim on our own policy, you likely will be responsible for paying the deductible before your coverage kicks in.

What should you not tell an insurance adjuster?

You should deal with an insurance adjuster just as you would with anyone else – forthrightly and honestly. However, it’s never wise to tell an adjuster that an accident was “your fault.”

Also, many legal advisers recommend against giving the adjuster any kind of recorded statement.

As a general rule, let the adjuster do his or her job and don’t provide any information beyond what is absolutely necessary. If you’re unsure of what you should and shouldn’t say, consult a lawyer.

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 a license, you could face fines and other penalties, including losing your driver’s license. So, you should always have auto insurance if you own a car and drive it.

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

How long does a claim stay on my record?

The length of time an at-fault accident 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?

You're probably wondering, "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.

Do insurance rates increase after your parked car gets hit?

There’s no way to know for sure if your rates will rise when someone hits your parked car and you file a claim. That decision rests in the hands of your insurance company.

However, many insurance companies are likely to be more forgiving and not raise rates in such a situation, Walker says.

“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.”

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