It’s one of your worst nightmares as a driver and car owner in general – a hit and run accident. Whether you’re hit on the road while moving and the other driver doesn’t stop. Or you come out to the lot where your car is parked. You find damage with no note or visible driver at fault, a hit and run can send anyone into a panic. How do you handle it? How does your insurance handle it? Should you even call your car insurance provider?
It’s important to understand the steps to take in case of this occurrence so you can make sure you’re covered and don’t end up paying for someone else’s mistake.
Look for Witnesses
Before you drive off the lot or the scene of the accident, you should ask if there are any witnesses who saw the driver responsible for the damage to your car. If anyone can identify the driver, the license plate, or even the type of vehicle involved, you’ll want to get their names and contact information. As these things can provide an affidavit that the damage wasn’t incurred by you.
Even if no one can identify the driver or caught the license plate, it’s important to take down witness information of anyone who at least saw it happen so that you can validate you weren’t involved in the incident. This goes a long way in how the claim is treated by insurance.
Who Should You Call?
If you intend to make a claim, you should report the incident to the police. This helps certify that the incident was a hit and run situation. As opposed to you backing into a light post and trying to claim it was a no-fault incident. In fact, many car insurance companies require you to have a police report filed within 24 hours of the incident. This is meant to rule that the damage was not your fault.
Once you have your police report, you should call your insurance company to report the damage. Give them all of your gathered information, including any names and phone numbers of potential witnesses. Your insurance agent can help explain to you the steps involved in investigating and paying the claims and repair costs.
What Car Insurance Coverage Do You Need?
Car insurance is mandatory across Canada, but the requirements vary across provinces. Make sure you’re covered if you are hit by someone who doesn’t stay to take responsibility. To do this, you want to make sure you meet the necessary requirements.
If you’ve been cutting costs by paying for a liability-only insurance policy, you might end up out of luck. This doesn’t provide for any damage to your car. And it would only cover the cost of repairing the other driver’s car should you be at fault. In many cases, a hit and run driver is never found. Or, if he or she is caught, is uninsured or underinsured. That means you’ll be paying out of pocket to repair the damage.
Paying for full coverage may seem expensive. But when compared to the costs you could incur through a hit and run when the other driver isn’t caught or has no insurance, it is definitely worth the added cost. This is also where your information and following the proper procedures comes in handy. If you can’t prove this was a hit and run incident, you can have the cost of repairs covered under your comprehensive coverage. However, you will still be responsible for your deductible. Whereas, the determination of ‘not at fault’ can have that deductible waived.
It may also be of interest to obtain uninsured motorist coverage. This covers the cost of the damage repair fully when the driver at fault is caught but doesn’t have insurance. In this case, you can avoid taking your opponent to small claims court to attempt to recover the costs of repairs, which is a time-consuming path to take.
The Bottom Dollar
If you’re hesitant to report a hit and run incident for fear that you’ll end up paying more for your car insurance, take a deep breath. If you follow the proper steps to report the occurrence, and you gather as much information as possible, you’ll be fine. This is by either catching the driver in the act and filing away details on your own or seeking out witnesses for statements.
With proper documentation, your claim will show that you are not at fault. Anytime you are not at fault for an accident such as a hit and run, the cost of your car insurance will remain steady. Without incurring no additional charges or higher rates. However, if you fail to report the incident to the police and can’t provide any information on the other driver or car, you could be cited with fault. It’s not uncommon for a driver to back into a pole or something and falsely report a hit and run. To protect your own interests – and pocketbook – you should get the information and do your best to obtain every detail.
The best thing you can do to protect yourself from hit and run incidents is to ensure that you’re properly insured. When the unthinkable happens, you’ll feel safer and calmer while collecting any information you need to validate your claim. Knowing that worst case scenario, you are covered by your own insurance and won’t have to pay more for it in the future.
While it’s tempting to get just the basics, keep in mind this won’t cover a hit and run. And then you’ll be paying out of pocket. This is regardless of fault, even if the other driver isn’t found or isn’t properly insured. Rather than run that risk, look into full coverage. There are always discounts available for various practices, including clean driving records and alarms. Take the time to search for a good policy you trust, and assure that when the time comes, you’ll be fully protected.