If someone hits your parked car while you’re not there and leaves the scene of the accident, it is considered a hit-and-run accident.
To hit another vehicle and leave the scene is a crime, and you are within your rights to contact the authorities and file a police report in these instances.
While the police may be able to help you identify who hit your car, you will likely need to have your car repaired when you’ve experienced a hit-and-run accident.
If you are insured with collision coverage or uninsured motorist coverage, the chances are that you won’t need to pay for these repairs out of pocket.
If you only have minimum liability coverage, then you will need to pay for the damages yourself.
In this article, we take a look at how hit-and-run accidents could impact you and your insurance, and provide you with everything you need to know about how to manage this stressful situation.
What Is a Hit-And-Run Accident?
A hit-and-run accident occurs when another driver hits a parked car and then leaves the accident scene without stopping to fulfill their legal duties.
When someone has hit a parked car, they need to make a reasonable effort to identify the owner of the car, as well as leave a written notice for the other vehicle’s owner to find.
The information contained on this note should include:
- The driver’s name and contact information.
- The make and model of the other driver’s car.
- The other driver’s license plate number.
- The other driver’s insurance company information.
In addition, the law states that anyone who has hit a parked car needs to also file a police report at the nearest police station.
A responsible driver would have also contacted their insurance company to tell them about the accident, as well as taken photos of the accident as evidence of what happened.
What Do I Do If Someone Hits My Parked Car?
If someone hits your parked car, there are three basic steps that you will want to take:
1. Call the police
A police officer will document the accident and create an official accident report. You will need this report when the time comes to file your claim with your insurance company.
Always be sure to ask for a copy of the accident report, and get the badge number and name of the police officer assisting you.
2. Document the accident
You will need to gather as much information about the accident as possible. When gathering the information regarding the accident, you should try to note the:
- Time of day.
- Weather conditions.
If it is safe to do so, you should also take photographs of the damage to your vehicle, as well as landmarks and signage that identify where the accident took place.
Also be sure to take photographs of any other damage at the scene such as debris, tire marks, and any other broken objects.
3. Notify your insurer
Be sure to contact your insurance company as soon as possible after the accident. Doing this ensures that you are able to recall all the relevant details.
Remember that if you were driving a company vehicle, you will need to contact your business’s insurance company.
Apart from these basic requirements, there are a few things you will need to do in the two scenarios you are likely to encounter if someone hits your parked car.
If someone hits your parked car and leaves the scene
When another driver has hit your car and fled the scene of the accident, you will need to investigate and see if you can find more information on what happened.
You may want to:
Check for security cameras
See if there are any cameras in the area where you are parked. If there are, check who they belong to and ask if you can get a copy of the footage that the camera has recorded.
This footage will enable you to identify when the accident took place, as well as possibly get the registration number of the driver.
Speak to witnesses
Perhaps there is a store or restaurant nearby? If you are parked in an area where pedestrians or other drivers may have seen the accident happen, ask around and see if you can find any witnesses who may be able to tell you what happened.
If someone hits your parked car and leaves a note
If another driver has hit your car and left a note with their contact details and insurance information, you will want to:
Contact the insurance provider
You will need to report the damage to both your own insurance provider and theirs after a car accident has taken place.
Remember that you will need to first file a police report before you call the insurance company.
While you may feel that it would be easier to handle the damages directly with the other driver, you can benefit from working with their insurer instead.
Every time you want to claim through an insurer, you will be asked to take the car for an inspection. There may be damages to your vehicle that you haven’t noticed at the time, which will then be covered by the other driver’s insurance company.
Call the at-fault driver
It is always a good idea to contact the at-fault driver and speak to them about the accident and how it occurred. This will give you important information that you can share with your insurer if need be.
If the other driver hasn’t left their insurance information on the note that they left you, then you may need to obtain this information from them.
Speak to witnesses
Check to see if there were or are any bystanders who saw the accident take place and talk to them about what they saw.
They may be able to tell you at what time the accident took place, as well as details such as the car the other person was driving, a registration number, and what actually happened.
You can then corroborate this information with what the at-fault driver tells you.
What Insurance Coverages Pay for Hit-And-Run Car Accidents?
There are two key insurance coverages that will pay to repair the damages to your car if someone hit your parked car.
Collision coverage pays for any physical damage to your vehicle when colliding with another car or a stationary object, irrespective of who is at fault.
If your vehicle is damaged in a hit-and-run accident, collision insurance will help to cover the cost of repairing or replacing your vehicle, after paying your deductible.
Key Point: What Is a Deductible?
A deductible is the amount of money that you will need to pay out of your own pocket toward a covered claim.
For example, if the repairs to your vehicle cost $5,000 and you have a $500 deductible, you will need to pay the $500 in order for your insurance company to settle the remaining $4,500.
Uninsured motorist property damage (UMPD)
In most states, a driver who flees the scene of an accident will be considered as ‘uninsured’ by an insurance company.
So if you don’t have collision cover in place, then you can speak to your insurance agent about your UMPD status. This coverage may be mandatory in your state and you could already be covered.
If you don’t have this coverage in place and it is not a necessity in your state, it is inexpensive to add it to your car insurance policy.
How Do I File an Insurance Claim for a Hit-And-Run Accident?
If you are able to identify the driver who hit your car or have their insurance information available, then it is best to file a third-party claim with their car insurance company.
This way, you will be able to recover damages under the other driver’s coverage and potentially avoid having to pay an increased car insurance premium.
If you are unable to find the person who hit your car, you will need to file a claim with your own insurance company.
To file a claim:
- Call the insurance company and speak to an insurance agent.
- Have your personal details ready such as your name, Social Security number, driver’s license number, and vehicle registration details.
- Explain what happened in detail.
- Offer to provide the evidence that you have (photos, police report, and witness reports).
- Obtain a reference number from the insurance agent.
Your insurance agent or insurance company will appoint an insurance adjuster to investigate your claim. Typically, the insurance adjuster will contact you within one to three days of filing the claim.
The insurance adjuster will provide you with all the details that you need in terms of the next steps that you need to follow.
Will My Insurance Go Up If My Parked Car Is Hit by Someone?
If you file a claim on your own car insurance policy, then you may see a rate increase.
In general, filing a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance won’t raise your insurance rate as you were not the one who caused the damage.
It is important to note that some insurance companies will increase your rate every time a claim related to you as a driver is filed.
If and when this happens, it may signal an opportunity to start shopping around for cheaper car insurance rates.
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