How will a hit-and-run affect car insurance rates?

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Here's what you need to know...

  • Hit-and-run accidents include any accident where a person leaves the scene after damaging another vehicle, person, or property
  • A hit-and-run accident will greatly increase your car insurance rates if you’re the responsible party
  • You will be in trouble with the law if you commit a hit-and-run

Hit-and-run accidents are a common part of the American driving landscape.

Besides the obvious health and safety concerns involved with a hit-and-run, such accidents also will have a significantly negative impact on current car insurance rates.

Neither the police nor insurance companies look very kindly on drivers who leave an accident scene without taking care of business.

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A hit-and-run accident is defined as one where one or more parties involved do not stop to check on the others and exchange information.

A hit-and-run accident can be as minor as hitting a parked car while pulling out your driveway, or as major as a collision between two drivers at an intersection.

If you don’t stop and fulfill your responsibilities as a driver, you are guilty of a hit-and-run. Regardless of how minor an accident may seem, always take the time to stop and deal with it.

How do car insurance companies view hit-and-run accidents?

A man stands in front of his damaged car.

Since car insurance rates are all based on the risk a driver poses to the insurance company, a hit-and-run raises a big red flag.

The insurance company assumes drivers involved in a hit-and-run are more likely to be irresponsible behind the wheel in other ways, and justifiably so.

As a result, any hit-and-run accident will significantly raise your auto insurance rates for at least three to four years. Many car insurance companies keep such accidents on your record for up to seven years.

Even more serious than the accident itself is the failure to report such accidents to your insurance company.

If you are involved in a hit-and-run in which you eventually contacted police, but failed to inform your insurance provider, the company will still find out during a routine check of your driving record.

That’s because, in most states, anything filed in an official accident report is part of the public record.

If your insurance company discovers a hit-and-run that you did not report, not only will your rates go up, but the company may also choose to drop you entirely. In such cases, you will certainly pay much higher rates with your new insurance provider.

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Is there anything else to worry about with a hit-and-run?

Hit-and-run accidents do have a negative impact on insurance rates, but there are far more serious things to consider.

  1. If the accident caused injury to another driver or pedestrian, their injuries may instigate a lawsuit against you. Your insurance company won’t cover the damages of this sort of lawsuit because, by engaging in a hit-and-run, you broke the law. Any judgment coming down against you may have to be paid out of your own pocket.
  2. If the hit-and-run resulted in the death of another driver or pedestrian you could be charged with vehicular manslaughter or something similar. Where you stopped to check on the welfare of the other driver, his death probably won’t result in any charges as long as the investigation reveals no negligence on your part.

The point is, leaving the scene of an accident is always the wrong thing to do and could result in the loss of life.

What are my responsibilities after an accident?

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Every driver is required by law to stop and deal with any car accident regardless of how minor. If the accident involved other drivers or pedestrians, you must first check on their welfare and then exchange personal and insurance information with them.

While filing an official accident report with the police is not necessarily required in every case, it’s always a good idea.

Insurance companies use police reports to determine fault and pay claims accordingly. Filing a claim for a hit and run when you are the victim is important too.

If your accident involved an unoccupied car, you must still stop and make some effort to locate the owner. If you can’t find the owner, that doesn’t mean that you’re free of responsibility and can simply drive away.

You must leave your information with the car you hit so that the owner can contact you in the future. Failure to do so still constitutes a hit-and-run accident which may come back to haunt you later on.

The same can be applied to property damage if the accident involved something like a fence or mailbox.

After a hit-and-run you need the best car insurance rates possible — enter your zip code to start searching now!

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