The organization also revealed that hit and run deaths have increased by an average of 7.2% since 2009, which executive director David Yang described as “a trend in the wrong direction”.
“We cannot forget that cars can be deadly when they come into contact with pedestrians, cyclists or other cars,” he said. “It is up to each of us to stay alert, be aware of our surroundings and always stay on the scene in the event of an accident.”
Jennifer Ryan, director of state relations for the AAA Foundation, added that every motorist has a “legal and moral responsibility to take the necessary precautions to avoid striking a pedestrian, cyclist or other vehicle.”
“While nobody likes to be involved in an accident, leaving the scene will significantly increase penalties for drivers – whether they caused the accident or not,” she warned.
Read more: Which US states have the best and worst drivers?
What to do if you are the victim of a hit and run?
Even with minor damage, being involved in a hit-and-run accident can be a harrowing experience. However, experts remind motorists that there are certain steps they can take to make the situation less stressful.
1. Assess the situation.
After an accident, the first thing a victim should do is “make sure you and everyone else in your car is okay,” according to car comparison website GetJerry, adding that “your safety is the most important thing. most important”.
The website also advised motorists not to pursue the vehicle that hit them, no matter how angry they got.
“Chasing after another driver can lead to even more dangerous situations, and you can drive recklessly and create more insurance claims,” the company explained. “Instead, stay at the scene of the accident and gather as much information as possible.”
2. Consult a doctor.
If the driver or one of their passengers is injured, the obvious next step is to seek immediate medical treatment.
“After a hit-and-run, as with any accident, you should immediately assess your need for medical care,” noted consumer financial services firm Bankrate. “If you feel you are injured, calling a doctor or going to the emergency room should be your first priority.”
3. Notify law enforcement.
Once it is certain that everyone is safe, victims of a hit and run should notify the police of the incident as soon as possible. The same applies to damage sustained while a vehicle is parked. Ideally, an accident report should be filed within 24 hours of the incident or discovery of damage.
“This can help the claims process run smoothly and help authorities shed light on the hit-and-run,” insurance giant Progressive said. “Tell the police any identifying details you remember, such as the license plate, make or model of the other car. The police may be able to find the driver at fault.
Read more: Personal Injury Protection Insurance – A State-by-State Guide
4. Get as much evidence as possible.
Insurance market Insurance.com has advised motorists to gather as much evidence as possible.
“Even though you won’t have the name of the driver who caused the wreckage, you should collect all available information,” the company noted. “You should also try to remember all the details you can.”
Actions motorists can take, depending on the market, include:
- Try to record a description of the other vehicle and its driver
- Write down the details of what happened, noting the direction the other vehicle was heading after causing the wreck
- Obtain the names and contact details of all witnesses
- Collect the names and badge numbers of police officers who responded
- Take photos of the scene of the accident and the vehicles involved, as well as any other property damage
- Contact the company or organization closest to the accident scene and inquire about available surveillance camera footage
5. Contact your auto insurance provider.
If the victims of the hit-and-run decide to file a claim, they should contact their car insurer as soon as possible.
“Calling to file a claim as soon as possible after an accident can be beneficial,” Bankrate explained. “Some insurance companies and states have regulations regarding how long after an accident to file a claim.”
Read more: Revealed – the most and least expensive states for car insurance in 2022
Does my car insurance cover hit-and-run accidents?
Although there is no hit-and-run insurance in the United States, some auto insurance policies may provide coverage. These include:
1. Collision coverage
As the name suggests, this pays for the cost of repairing damage to a vehicle caused by a collision with another vehicle or stationary object, regardless of who is at fault. This type of coverage, however, is optional – although lenders make it a condition for a car loan – and comes with a deductible. In the event of a hit-and-run accident, collision insurance can help cover the cost of repairing or replacing the vehicle. If the offending motorist is later identified and insured, policyholders may be able to recover their deductible on that driver’s policy.
2. Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury (UMBI)
UMBI covers injuries sustained in an accident caused by an uninsured driver. Some states consider drivers who leave the scene of an accident as uninsured. In these places, this type of coverage can help pay for medical expenses incurred due to hit-and-run accidents. Other states require proof that the other motorist is uninsured before providing coverage. UMBI generally does not have a franchise.
Read more: Revealed – US states that require coverage for uninsured motorists
3. Uninsured Motorist Property Damage (UMPD)
This works similarly to uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage, but instead pays the cost of repairing damage to a vehicle. This type of coverage is mandatory in some states and may cover hit-and-run accidents. Unlike UMBI, however, UMPD comes with a deductible.
4. Coverage of medical payments
This covers medical costs the driver and passengers incur after an accident, which can include hit-and-run collisions, regardless of who is at fault. Coverage generally does not come with a deductible, but is also not available in all states.
5. Personal Injury Protection (PIP)
PIP coverage is not available in all states, but in no-fault states this type of policy is mandatory. It works the same way as medical expense coverage, paying the medical bills of the driver and passengers regardless of who caused the accident. The PIP may also cover lost wages or childcare costs incurred as a result of injuries sustained. A deductible may apply, depending on state laws.
Read more: The Best US Auto Insurers in 2022 – A Region-by-Region Breakdown
Will a hit-and-run claim increase my insurance premiums?
Unfortunately, hit-and-run accidents can drive up car insurance premiums, even for victims who weren’t at fault, according to Bankrate.
“While you shouldn’t be overcharged for a not-at-fault accident, you could lose an accident-free discount, for example, or your rating classification could change,” the company explained.
“If you cause a hit-and-run and are found, you can choose to file a claim with your insurance, so you don’t have to pay for the damages out of pocket. In this case, you will likely see a large increase in your rates, in addition to any moving violations and legal fees you will be charged for fleeing the scene. In addition, you run the risk of facing possible criminal charges.
Progressive, meanwhile, noted that rate increases often depend on the auto insurance provider and the state.
“In some cases, your premium may not increase if you are not at fault,” according to the insurer. “In other cases, any accident can result in a higher rate – even for hit and run crashes where the other driver was clearly at fault.”
“If you make a hit-and-run claim on your auto insurance policy, that claim will appear on your insurance record,” insurance giant Allstate wrote on its website. “According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, the frequency of claims can affect what you pay for auto insurance.”