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What Is a Hit-and-Run?

Learn about the insurance implications of a hit-and-run crash and what to do if you are a victim.

hit and run insurance

What is a hit-and-run crash? It seems self-explanatory; it’s technically right there in the name. However, there are some details you might want to know more about, especially if you are a victim.

More than one hit-and-run crash occurs every minute on U.S. roads, according to the latest research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, accounting for thousands of deaths each year.

So, who is responsible for the damages when you can’t prove fault and the other person is long gone? Can your insurance help? Read on for answers.

What Is Considered a Hit-and-Run?

Simply defined, a hit-and-run is any traffic collision in which a driver flees the scene, leaving behind property damage, bodily injury or even death. No information is exchanged between the two drivers and there is no opportunity to identify who caused the accident. It can happen anywhere a car can be driven, whether a well-traveled road or a parking lot.

Hit-and-run violations are criminal offenses. There are laws in every state that make fleeing the site of a crash illegal to varying degrees (however, most states do allow for a driver to temporarily leave the scene to get emergency help.) If caught and found guilty, and depending on the severity of the crash, drivers can potentially face loss or suspension of their license, large fines or jail time.

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Hit-and-Run Insurance Claims and Coverage

If you are the victim of a hit-and-run crash and left stranded with vehicle damage or injuries, call the police immediately, file a report and notify your insurance company. It’s also smart to check if there were any witnesses that can contribute to your case.

Hit-and-run coverage varies by state and insurance carrier.

“If police ultimately can identify the culprit and they carry liability insurance, their insurance company could help pay for the damages/injuries. However, most are never identified,” said Jodi DeSantis, managing director of insurance sales for AAA Northeast. “Therefore, it is the coverages that you carry on your policy that will determine whether or not protection is available. Collision coverage would help to pay for the cost to repair your car, minus any deductible.”

Uninsured motorist and no-fault coverages may provide compensation for a hit-and-run, but also depends on state and carrier. In some cases, the driver may need to be identified for uninsured motorist coverage to kick in. It’s important to familiarize yourself with your specific coverages; a licensed insurance agent can help you interpret your contract.

Generally, hit-and-run accidents will not cause insurance rates to go up for the victim.

Schedule an appointment with a knowledgeable AAA Insurance agent today.

hit and run insurance

Minor Hits

Say you’re in a parking garage and accidentally ding the car next to you with your door. If you drive away and pretend like it never happened, would that be considered a hit-and-run?

“Yes,” said DeSantis. “If the party that caused the damage does not stop, leaves the scene and does not identify themselves in any way, such as leaving a note.”

While you might get away with such a minor incident, staying at the scene or leaving a note is a polite courtesy to extend to the owner of the other vehicle.

How to Handle a Crash

If you are involved in a crash, resist your flight response and never leave the scene. Remember that while hitting another car or a pedestrian is scary, especially when there are injuries involved, it is an accident. You may not even be at fault. Fleeing is a crime. Instead, follow these steps, according to AAA.

    • Call 911.
    • Make sure you are visible to approaching drivers using hazard lights, flares or reflectors as needed. Find a safe place to stay until help arrives.
    • File a report with the police. If police do not come to the scene, you can file a report via your local police department or insurance agency.

Have you ever been the victim of a hit-and-run crash? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.

Learn more about your auto insurance options with AAA Insurance.

Comments
  • Yes, just this week my brand new mustang mach e GT performance was scratched and dent by a car going the wrong way in a narrow one way street. He kept going without stopping. I was so upset and I thought my car would be badly damaged but it turned out not as bad. Nevertheless, the drive flee the scene.

    Reply
    • Almost a month ago I was at a resting area on 95 in Fairfield, CT. Around 2:15am
      I woke up with a noise and my car shaking. A guy with a plate from NY hits the back of my car and left. I called immediately to 911, they came pretty fast and to my insurance too. They’re working on it. Thank God.

      Reply
  • Zoraida C.

    My recent hit and run incident occurred on a Main Street in NY. A scooter t-boned me as he ran a red light. I did not see him coming as he was driving on the far right passing stopped cars at full speed. He ran from the scene when he realized the scooter was damaged and could not start. I called 911 then my insurance right away after pulling to the side. I wasn’t hurt, but it was difficult getting out of the car.

    I filed a police report and had my car towed to a service center. It’s still there. The cost keeps going up; estimated at 2G then rising past 4G. Thanks to collision insurance all I have to pay is $500. But something has to me done about driving these scooters in the street. Most do not follow traffic rules and overwhelm traffic police.

    Reply
  • Juliana R.

    I was backing up and another person was backing up we bumped bumpers. The other car did not sustain any damage, however, my car did and I had to have it repaired to the tune of $1100. We were both at fault but I did expect the other party to be responsible for !/2 of the damage to my car. I am insured in NY state and she was insured in MA. I have not been able to get an answer from her insurance company and I removed collision from my policy due to the age of my car. It is a Mercedes so the repair was slight but costly. Do I have any recourse to recovering at least 1/2 of my cost?

    Reply
  • I was hit broadside at a T junction. The other car deflected off mine and kept going. Looking in my wing mirror, I was able to get most of the license plate number, and the police located the driver. Their insurance paid for the considerable damage done to my car.

    Reply
  • Recently I was accused of hit and run accident. The other party claimed that I cut their car when changing the lanes and hit their car on front right side with my left rare side. They took the picture of my car and called the police. I did not feel anything: no sound of the crash and there is no any signs of crash on my car: no scratches or paint from other car. I called my insurance and request to inspect my car, which was done. Could it be that the other party took picture of the wrong car. What else could I do ?

    Reply
    • By a car dash cam for future incidents to be recorded as proof, get one that records the front and rear

      Reply
    • Sounds like a scam. Good thing you took your car to your insurance company. That should cover you. I’d bet you’ll never hear from the other (alleged) party.

      Reply
  • Michael A.

    My wife was backing out of a parking space in Florida when a car raced by and hit the front left of the car and fled the scene. My wife was in shock and didn’t think to notify the police. We got our car fixed under my insurance. A month later, the insurance company notified me that a claim was filed for a hit and run at another location miles away. However, they filed a report with the police. They claimed the accident occurred 3 hours later than when we were hit. My car had New York plates. Their car fit the description of the car that hit her. In order to protect me, my insurance company is settling this claim. The claim has not been settled yet a year later.
    Apparently, this happens a lot in Florida. Lesson: Always file a report with the police.

    Reply
  • My car was unattended and parked at the curb on a residential two way street, when an SUV traveling in the opposite direction struck the front driver side of my car. A witness observed the incident and stated that the driver exited the SUV and left a piece of paper on my windshield. The witness did not get a plate number, only description of the SUV. Witness did not get the plate #, he assumed it wasn’t necessary because the person left a note. The note was blank, no info. whatsoever. The person who hit my car knew he was being watched by the witness and faked leaving a note then left the scene. I returned to my parked car within a short time and spoke with the witness. I made a police report at the scene. While waiting for the tow truck I collected all the accident debris at the scene. The debris was from both my car as well as the SUV that hit my car. I drove around the area of the accident for two days looking for any SUV with damage consistent with the witnesses description. The day after the accident I found an SUV that looked to be a match. I took the pieces left at the scene and they matched like puzzle pieces. I called the police to where the SUV was parked and showed them how I thought this was without a doubt the same SUV that had hit my car and left the scene the day before. The officer did a supplemental report adding the plate # for the SUV and my damages were fully covered by the SUV’s insurance. The police usually do not do any follow up, unless someone is likely to die or dead. My follow up payed off for me, your results may vary.

    Reply
  • In NYC. My car was T boned by a car that passed a red light and fled the scene. Somehow I kept my senses and went up to a taxi that was at the red light too. He said he must leave and was useless. My only other witness was my 20 year old son sitting in passenger seat. I was to find out that family and friends in car can not be a witness. I was responsible for 50% of accident. Luckily no body got hurt so it was a good day. ????????

    Reply
  • I am the victim of 4 hit & runs in front of my house all between the hours of 1 AM to 6 AM – only the young (intoxicated) man was caught but it still cost me $2900 – as the insurance would not pay the GAP insurance & the deposit on another car. I lease my cars

    Reply
  • Ricardo L.

    Several years ago on my birthday in NYC I came down to find out my car had been hit from the back of the bumper along to the front driver door. There was no note of course, I filed a police report and called my insurance. Had the car repaired and paid my $500 deductible but just a frustrating situation.

    Reply

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