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Few things can shake your nerves like someone hitting your car. With your heart racing and a million thoughts going through your head, it can be hard to pull yourself together and take the right steps.
If someone hits your car, you need to know your options. This guide will help you understand what to do when someone hits your car and what to do if the other person leaves the scene.
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What to do if someone hits your car while it’s parked
If you drive to your parked car and find that someone has hit it with their vehicle, handle the situation like any other accident and follow the necessary steps:
1. Call the police
Stay on the scene and call 911. In some areas, especially major metropolitan areas, law enforcement may not respond to every accident, but you should still try to notify the police.
Once at the scene, the response officer will write a police report, which can come in handy when filing an insurance claim for the damage.
2. Document the accident
Try to gather as much information as possible from the scene of the accident. While you wait for the police to respond, try to locate the person who hit your car, if possible, and exchange contact details and insurance information. If there are eyewitnesses, record their contact details as well.
Also, it is important to take lots of pictures. Pictures are worth a thousand words, so it’s a good idea to use your smartphone to document your car damage and the location of the event. This can provide supporting evidence when you file your claim.
If you locate the driver who hit your vehicle, also take photos of their vehicle and license plate for your records. If a driver left a note with their contact information, be sure to keep it somewhere safe so you have it when you need it.
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3. Notify your car insurance provider and file a claim
The sooner you contact your insurance company while the details are fresh in your memory, the better. Your agent should let you know how the claims process works and tell you what information they need.
Some car insurance providers allow you to file a claim and upload photos from their mobile app, allowing you to file a claim directly from the scene of the accident. If you know who hit your vehicle, your insurance company will work with that driver’s insurer to settle the claim.
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What if someone hits your parked car and drives off?
An incident can be considered a hit-and-run if someone hits your parked car and leaves the scene without leaving any contact information. In this case, the insurer may treat the other driver as uninsured.
Follow these steps if someone hits your parked car and drives away:
1. Call the police
Since a hit and run is a crime, contact the police immediately to file a report. They may be able to help you identify the driver who hit your vehicle.
2. Talk to your insurance agent
Your agent can help you review your policy to see if it covers damages resulting from a hit-and-run. You may need collision or uninsured motorist property damage coverage to pay for the damage, but it depends on the state.
As with any other car accident, documenting the damage and your surroundings is also essential.
The consequences for fleeing drivers in a hit-and-run accident vary by state. Many states consider a hit-and-run accident a criminal offense if someone is seriously injured or if a vehicle sustains significant damage, whether or not someone is injured.
A hit-and-run can also be called a misdemeanor. For example, in Pennsylvania, fleeing the scene of an accident is a third degree misdemeanor – you could be fined $2,500, sent to jail for up to a year, or both.
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What to do if someone hits your car while driving
When someone hits your car while you are driving, your first priority is to keep you and your passengers safe, if applicable. Here are the steps to take after someone hits your car on the road:
1. Stop in a safe area
If possible, move to a safer area out of danger. Of course, there are instances where you may need to remain still until medical personnel arrive. Your safety is your top priority after a car accident.
2. Call 911
If you or another Drivers or the passengers involved in the accident require medical attention, call 911 immediately. Even if none of the parties involved sustains injuries, it is always wise to call law enforcement. The police can write an accident report, which can be invaluable in supporting your statements when you file an insurance claim.
3. Exchange information with all drivers
Obtain the names, contact details and driver’s license numbers of all drivers involved in the accident. You will also want to obtain all license plate and vehicle identification numbers. Remember that asking to see a driver’s license and vehicle registration is a great way to verify a driver’s information.
When gathering information, it is useful to obtain the names and contact details of other passengers and any witnesses at the scene.
4. Take pictures
Use your camera or smartphone to take photos of the damage and other relevant information at the scene of the accident, such as skid marks or weather conditions.
5. Contact your insurer
Notify your insurance agent immediately after an accident to initiate your claim. Your agent can advise you on next steps and what to expect during the claims process.
You can visit Credible for compare auto insurance quotes from multiple carriers, all in one place.
Will your insurance increase if your car is affected?
Generally, your car insurance premium with your insurance company can increase when you are at fault in an accident. Unfortunately, the same is true even if you’re not at fault if someone hit your car, although it depends on your state, your insurer, and the amount of damage.
For example, if an uninsured motorist hits your car, your insurer may increase your premium after tapping into your uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage to pay for the damage. However, the impact on your premium is generally less if you are not at fault.
Paying higher premiums for an accident you didn’t cause is disappointing to say the least. But you may be able to offset any rate hikes by taking steps to save on your car insurance premium.
Forgiveness of accident
If you have accident coverage through your insurance company, your premium will not increase after your first accident, even if you are at fault. You can usually buy it as optional coverage for your car insurance or earn it by driving for a while without any accidents.
With Credible, you can compare auto insurance quotes from various insurers in minutes.