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Car accidents are scary and overwhelming. It can be hard to remember what you need to do in the moment and to follow all the appropriate steps. This goes for any type of accident, whether or not you’re at fault.
If someone hits your car, you may be confused about whose insurance company you need to contact — yours or theirs. Or, if the damage seems minor, you might wonder if you need to get insurance involved at all.
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Auto insurance offers a variety of coverages, and whether or not you’re protected if someone hits your car depends on how the collision happened and what type of coverage your auto policy contains. That said, whenever you’re in an accident that involves another person, you should let your car insurance company know as soon as possible.
If someone hits your car (whether you’re driving or it’s parked) you should file a police report and exchange information with the other driver
You should contact your insurance company to let them know about the incident. If the person who hits you doesn’t think they’re at-fault, your insurance company will contact their insurer and they’ll determine who was at fault
The uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage and collision coverage components of an auto policy can protect you if an uninsured driver hits your car or if you’re victim of a hit-and-run
Even if there is no damage to either of your vehicles, you should still contact your insurance company. You never know if the other person will change their mind and file a claim later
If someone hits your car while you’re driving, don’t panic. You should pull over to the side of the road and make sure you and all passengers are safe and uninjured. Hopefully the other driver has also pulled over. You should then take the same steps that are necessary after every car accident:
Call the police and file a police report
Exchange information with the other person involved in an accident
Document the damage with photos or videos
Record contact information for any witnesses who saw the accident
Alert your car insurance company that your car was just hit by another driver
You do need to contact your insurance company after car accidents, even if they are minor. It’s important to contact your insurance company as soon as possible so you can explain the incident, get it on record, and begin the claims process. Your insurance company can also help you if you need roadside assistance, like if your car needs to be towed.
If the person who hit your car is not clearly at fault, or if they believe it was not their fault, you should definitely contact your insurance company. Once all the details are filed and the police report is reviewed, your insurance company will contact the other person’s insurer, and the insurers will work together to determine who was at fault.
If the other person hits your car and is clearly at fault (and agrees that it was their fault) you can file a third party claim through their insurance company, and their liability coverage will pay for damage they caused. You can still contact your insurance company to let them know about the incident and that you are filing a third party claim.
Whether or not your auto insurance will pay for repairs to your vehicle when someone else hits you depends on the type of coverage you have and the specifics of the accident. If you are found to not be at fault for the accident, then the person who hit you and their insurance company are responsible for paying for the repairs to your vehicle. That said, this can be complicated if the person doesn’t have insurance or if they only have a minimal amount of liability coverage.
If the person who hits you doesn’t have insurance, or if their insurance can’t cover the full extent of the damage they caused, your uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage component of your auto insurance policy can protect you. However, this type of coverage isn’t required in all states, so not every driver will choose to add it to their policy.
That said, if you do have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, it can help pay for damages to your vehicle if an uninsured or underinsured driver hits you.
The collision coverage component of your auto insurance protects you if you get into an accident, no matter who is at fault. Just like uninsured motorist coverage, collision coverage is optional, meaning not all states require it. If someone hits your car and you do have collision coverage, then your insurance company can help pay for repairs. Collision coverage will also cover damage to your car if you caused the accident, or if there were no other drivers involved, like if you drove into a telephone pole.
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If someone hits your parked car, the collision will mostly be handled in the same manner as if you had been driving at the time. You would file a police report, exchange information with the individual who hit your car, and file a third party claim with their insurance company.
That said, if your parked car got hit, you may not have been around to see the person do it. Hopefully, that other person left a note with their contact information. However, if they did not leave any information then they committed a hit-and-run, and you should file a police report and contact your insurance company right away to alert them.
Whether your car is hit while parked or you’re in a collision while driving, there’s always a chance of becoming the victim of a hit-and-run, which is when the other driver takes off without giving you their information. If you have underinsured/uninsured motorist property coverage in your auto policy it may be able to help reimburse you for some of the damages from a hit-and-run.
Your collision coverage may also protect you if you are victim to a hit-and-run. However, collision insurance requires a deductiblebefore coverage can kick in. If the repairs cost less than your deductible, you might be better off paying out of pocket. That said, you still need to let your insurance company know about the hit-and-run.
Personal injury protection, or PIP, is another coverage component of auto insurance required in many states. It covers medical bills, as well as other expenses you might accrue while injured, such as lost wages. Like collision insurance, personal injury protection covers you regardless of who was at fault in an accident, and it may also cover you if you or your passengers sustain injuries in a hit-and-run.
If you are filing a third party claim you will do so directly with the other driver’s insurance company, which means you will be in contact with them. However, if you’ve filed a claim with your own insurance company, it’s typically smart not to talk to the other person’s insurance company and to let the insurers work it out between them.
The other person’s insurance company has their own interest in mind, meaning they are going to ask you questions, and if you contradict any of the details in the original report you could make things more difficult for yourself. If the other person’s insurer wants to talk to you, you should ask your insurance company if this is advisable before speaking to them.
For the most part, any time you get into a collision with another driver you should contact your insurance company so they have it on the record. That said, in the off chance that there really is no damage to your vehicle or the other person’s car, you don’t have to contact your insurance company.
But, like we mentioned before, the other driver could change their mind and decide to contact their insurer and file a claim and then you’ll be left without a record of the accident, so it will be your word against theirs, and your insurance company might not be able to help you. You may also realize after the fact that you were more injured or your car was more damaged than you initially thought.
If you’re in a hit-and-run accident, your car insurance rates may or may not go up, but it depends on your insurer. Your rates are more likely to go up if you’re at-fault for an accident, than if you’re involved in a hit-and-run or an accident caused by someone else.
In the event that you’re hit by another driver and their insurance adjuster contacts you, stick to the basics about the accident, don't draw conclusions about the other driver, and stay polite. You should check with your own insurance company if you have questions about how to communicate with the at-fault driver’s insurer.
A claim will typically stay on your record between three and five years. The more claims you have in your recent history, the more you’ll pay for auto insurance. But after enough time has passed, a claim won’t affect your premiums any longer.
If you don’t have car insurance and someone hits your car, any damage to your car or injuries to you or your passengers should be covered by the other driver’s liability insurance since they caused the accident. But you may face penalties for driving without insurance, depending on the state you live in.
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