Hit and run accidents are frustrating and upsetting for the victim involved, and unfortunately, they're far more common than you might expect. The Insurance Information Institute estimates that around 11 out of every 100 accidents are hit and runs.
Sorting out insurance after a hit and run can be confusing.
However, one thing that can really help is having Uninsured Motorist coverage (UM).
Uninsured motorist insurance will cover your damages if you’re in an accident where the other driver is uninsured, has insufficient insurance, or is unidentified - as with a hit and run.
In this article, we’ll explain why uninsured motorist coverage is a good option to add to your policy, and will also discuss the different aspects of UM, as well as other types of insurance that may be able to cover you in a hit and run, and other things to consider if you find yourself a victim in such a case.
What it covers
Uninsured Motorist coverage allows victims to pursue compensation for damages incurred by a hit and run.
The coverage it provides can be broken into two different categories:
- • bodily injury (injuries to the driver and passengers)
- • property damage (damage to the vehicle)
However, while uninsured motorist coverage is mandatory in some states, it’s optional in others.
For example, in states such as West Virginia, Connecticut, and New York uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage is required.
You can see if your state requires UM coverage, here.
Coverages for bodily injury to you or your passengers
Uninsured motorist bodily injury (UMBI)
As we mentioned above, UMBI covers injuries from an accident and will often include hit and run cases, as the other driver is usually considered ‘uninsured’ in most states.
Medical payments/personal injury Protection (PIP)
These policies apply regardless of who’s at fault in an accident, meaning they can be used in a hit and run.
Medical payments and personal injury protection cover injuries, and PIP can also cover things such as income continuation, funeral expenses, and rehabilitation costs.
Again, the coverages available to you depend on the state you live in.
It’s strongly advised that you acquire UMBI coverage and PIP/medical payments if you don’t have health insurance. Without this coverage, you may find yourself having to foot the bill if you’re a victim of a hit and run.
Coverage for your car
Collision insurance covers you against any physical damage to your car.
So if you’re the victim of a hit-and-run accident and your car needs to be repaired or replaced, collision will cover you, you’ll just have to pay your deductible.
Uninsured motorist property damage (UMPD)
In the majority of states, if a driver flees the scene of an accident they’ll be classed as ‘uninsured’ by the victim’s insurance company.
So, UMPD can cover damage to your car if you don’t carry collision coverage.
It’s mostly an inexpensive coverage (though a deductible may apply) and can usually still be added if you don’t have collision coverage.
In a small number of states, UMPD cannot be used to cover hit and run accidents, and in this case, collision coverage is needed to cover the damages incurred.
Things to Consider
Insurance may not cover everything
When we insure our car, most of us never expect to have to use the coverage.
For this reason, many people underestimate the cost of damages from an accident and often don’t realize the importance of having adequate insurance until it’s too late.
Ensure you collect evidence
When you’re the victim of a hit and run accident, evidence is even more crucial than usual, as you’re more reliant on this to substantiate your claim.
When filing a claim, you and your attorney will need to collect as much evidence as possible to prove your case to the insurance company.
You’ll have to prove that:
- • An unknown motorist caused the accident
- • You’ve made reasonable efforts to try to identify the other driver and whether or not they had any existing insurance policies
- • The injuries you’ve suffered and damages sustained as a result of the accident.
Time limit to hit and run claims
Each state is subject to its own statute of limitations - the time period you have to file a lawsuit arising from an accident or injury before your legal claim will be barred and your right to sue expired.
In some states, the type of personal injury claim may also affect the time limit, so it’s best to check these details as soon as possible after your accident.
Victims might end up paying
One of the reasons why hit and run cases are so frustrating is that if the victim’s insurance does not fully cover their expenses, they may end up having to foot the bill.
This is why it’s important to discuss your case with an attorney and determine the legal route you’re going to take, so you know what to expect.
Different states have different requirements regarding uninsured motorist cover.
However, on the whole, having UM insurance is more likely to help you if you find yourself the unfortunate victim of a hit and run.
As we explained in this article, UMPD covers your car, while UMBI covers bodily injury caused to yourself or passengers in your car.
It’s important to know the requirements in your state however, as in a small handful of states UM may not protect you in hit-and-run cases.
There are also other forms of insurance that can protect yourself and your car against hit and run accidents.
As ever, if you find yourself in this situation, the best thing to do is gather as much evidence as possible and discuss the case with a legal professional so that you can consider your options before progressing to the next steps.