Does insurance cover a hit-and-run?

13 minute read Published on Jan 19, 2024 by BrokerLink Communications

Close up of a blue car back door. Door has been hit or damaged by another vehicle.

Imagine this: you’re returning to your parked car and notice it’s been damaged with no note or culprit in sight. Or worse, you’re a victim of a hit-and-run while driving. These situations are not just frustrating but also raise a pressing question: Does your car insurance cover a hit-and-run incident? Understanding whether your coverage covers these unfortunately common accidents can be the key to turning a stressful situation into a manageable one. So, let’s find out what you need to know about insurance coverage in the aftermath of a hit-and-run.

My car was damaged in a hit-and-run. Am I covered?

Collision coverage, uninsured motorist coverage, and all-perils coverage are all types of car insurance coverage that include coverage for hit-and-run accidents. Uninsured motorist coverage is only mandatory in select provinces, and collision and all-perils coverage are optional insurance add-ons. As such, whether your car is covered in the event of a hit-and-run depends on the specifics of your car insurance policy and the province you reside in.

A standard auto insurance policy in Canada includes third-party liability coverage and accident benefits coverage with varying coverage limits depending on the province. Other types of coverage that are mandatory in select provinces, like Ontario car insurance, for example, include direct compensation-property damage coverage and uninsured motorist coverage.

Let’s break down the types of auto insurance that include hit-and-run coverage:

Collision coverage

Collision coverage is designed to cover damage to your vehicle that results from a collision with another vehicle or object or in hit-and-run scenarios. This coverage is particularly important in hit-and-run cases because the party at fault is unknown or absent. While collision coverage is optional, it’s a significant component of a comprehensive auto insurance plan. It ensures protection in many scenarios where you might otherwise be left to cover repair costs out of pocket.

When you file a claim under collision coverage, you’re responsible for the deductible, the amount you pay before insurance covers the rest. The size of the deductible can influence the premium, with higher deductibles generally leading to lower premiums.

Uninsured motorist coverage

This coverage is meant to protect you against losses caused by uninsured or underinsured drivers. In a hit-and-run scenario where the other driver is not identified, this coverage can be particularly beneficial. The specifics of uninsured motorist coverage can vary significantly across provinces. For example, in some provinces like Ontario and Alberta, this coverage is a mandatory part of your auto insurance policy, while in others, it might be optional.

In some instances, uninsured motorist coverage can extend beyond just covering vehicle damages, potentially including medical expenses or lost wages. The specifics depend on your policy and provincial regulations.

All-perils coverage

This is a comprehensive form of coverage that combines aspects of collision and comprehensive coverage. It covers damages to your vehicle from a wide range of incidents, including collisions, theft, vandalism, and hit-and-runs. All-perils coverage offers broader protection, making it a suitable option if you seek extensive coverage. All perils coverage is subject to the same deductible no matter the damage to your vehicle, whether there is glass damage or damage from a collision with another vehicle. This differs from collision and comprehensive that are each subject to their own separate deductibles.

Provincial regulations and differences with hit-and-run coverage

Provinces like British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Quebec have government-run auto insurance programs, like ICBC in British Columbia. These programs offer unique coverage options, such as ICIB’s hit-and-run coverage, and handle claims differently than provinces with private insurance markets like Ontario and Alberta.

Each province sets its own rules and minimum requirements for auto insurance. This affects how insurers handle claims, set premiums, and offer coverage options. Each province also may have specific legal requirements for reporting accidents, including hit-and-runs, to both the authorities and your insurance provider. Understanding these requirements is crucial for compliance and ensuring your claim is valid.

What qualifies as a hit-and-run accident?

A hit-and-run accident refers to any incident where a driver causes damage to another person, vehicle, or property and then leaves the scene without identifying themselves or offering assistance. This type of incident can vary in severity, ranging from minor scrapes to serious collisions. Understanding what constitutes a hit-and-run is crucial for anyone involved in such an incident, whether as a victim, witness or even as the driver responsible. Let’s explore this further:

Collision or contact

There must be some form of collision or contact between the vehicle and another object, vehicle, or person. This includes accidents involving pedestrians, other vehicles, or property like fences, signs, or buildings.

Failure to stop

After the collision, the driver who caused the accident failed to stop at the scene. Stopping is necessary to exchange contact and insurance information and fulfill legal obligations. As security cameras are everywhere these days, there’s a high probability of being caught if a motorist decides to flee the scene, and it is, therefore, in their best interest to remain at the scene.

Lack of identification

The driver does not provide their identification details to the other party involved in the accident. In cases where the other party is not present, e.g. hitting a parked car, the driver is typically required to leave their contact information in a visible place.

Failure to report

In many jurisdictions, drivers are legally required to report certain types of accidents to the police. A hit-and-run includes failing to report the accident when required by law.

Absence of assistance

If the accident results in injuries, drivers must offer reasonable assistance. This may include calling for medical help. Leaving the scene without offering assistance can also be part of a hit-and-run, especially if there are injuries involved.

Drivers involved in any collision are legally required to stop, offer assistance if there are injuries, and exchange contact and insurance information. In fact, the responsibility to stop and provide information applies regardless of who caused the accident. Even if the hit-and-run driver is not at fault for the collision, leaving the scene can result in criminal charges, fines, and even imprisonment, depending on the severity of the incident and the injuries involved.

How do hit-and-run accidents affect my insurance?

Premium rates, deductibles, and claims records — dealing with the aftermath of a hit-and-run accident can be distressing, and one of the primary concerns is understanding how such an incident might affect your car insurance. Here’s a detailed look at how a hit-and-run might affect your insurance:

Filing a claim

If you file a claim for a hit-and-run under your collision, uninsured motorist, or all-perils coverage, you will typically need to pay a deductible. This is the amount you pay out of pocket before your insurance covers the rest of the costs. The claims process involves reporting the incident to your insurer and possibly providing a police report, photographs of the damage, and any other relevant information.

Insurance premiums

Filing a claim, including for a hit-and-run, can lead to an increase in your insurance premiums. This varies depending on the insurer and your claims history. In many cases, hit-and-run accidents are treated as no-fault from the victim’s perspective. This means that you, as the victim, are not penalized for the actions of the driver who fled the scene. However, insurers may still adjust premiums based on the overall risk profile and claims history.

Insurance coverage limits

Your insurance will cover damages up to the limits specified in your policy. If the cost of repairs exceeds this limit, you will be responsible for the additional amount. The extent of coverage depends on whether you have collision coverage, uninsured motorist, or all-perils coverage.

Impact on insurance record

Filing a hit-and-run claim will be recorded in your insurance history. Insurers may consider your overall claims history when determining premiums and eligibility for certain coverage options or discounts.

If you’ve been in a hit-and-run accident and you’re considering not reporting it, here’s something to keep in mind. In many jurisdictions, you must report a hit-and-run incident to the police. Also, failing to report could lead to complications with your insurance claim. Therefore, it’s important to be familiar with your policy’s terms, including how it addresses hit-and-run incidents, to understand your coverage and responsibilities.

Filing a hit-and-run insurance claim

When filing a hit-and-run insurance claim, there are several steps, like reporting the accident, collecting evidence and notifying your insurer, that you must follow. Below, you’ll find a step-by-step list for filing a hit-and-run insurance claim.

Report the accident

It’s important to report a hit-and-run incident to the police and your insurance provider as soon as possible. A police report is crucial, especially in a hit-and-run. In fact, in many jurisdictions, a police report for a hit-and-run is mandatory and must be submitted within 24 hours of the accident.

If you remember any identifying details of the other vehicle, such as the make, model, colour or licence plate number, be sure to write them down immediately. If you saw the driver, write down their description as well. Provide this description of the driver and vehicle to the police.

Collect evidence from the scene

You’ll then need to collect as much evidence as possible. This includes taking photos of the damage to your vehicle, the surrounding area, and any debris left by the other vehicle and noting the time and location of the incident. If there were any witnesses, get their contact information. Witness statements can be crucial in hit-and-run cases. Learn more about what to do if you witness a hit-and-run accident.

Notify your insurance provider

Next, you’ll want to notify your insurer promptly to initiate the claims process, so ensure you familiarize yourself ahead of time with any specific time frames set by your insurer for reporting accidents. Be prepared to provide all the incident details, including the police report number, photographs, and any witness information.

Review your current policy

Review your insurance policy to understand what it covers in terms of hit-and-run incidents. This could involve collision coverage, uninsured motorist coverage, or all-perils coverage, depending on your policy and the province. Also, be aware of your policy’s deductible, the amount you need to pay out-of-pocket, and the coverage limits. While you’re not at fault for a hit-and-run, you must still pay a deductible. This is because the other driver’s insurance provider can’t pay the damages since they can’t be identified.

Work with a claims adjuster

Here, your insurance company will assign a claims adjuster to your case. They will assess the damage, review the evidence, and determine the extent of the coverage. Your insurer may require additional documentation or information as they process your claim.

Receive your payment

Once your claim has been approved, you’ll receive your payment. Depending on your policy, the insurer may pay for the repairs directly, or you may need to pay upfront and get reimbursed.

Make sure you keep a record of all communications with your insurance company, the police, and any repair shops.

While this is a general rundown of a hit-and-run claims process, the process and specific requirements can vary depending on the province. For instance, provinces with government-run insurance programs may have different procedures than private insurers. It’s best to speak with your local insurance broker or company to determine the claims process for your province.

What happens to my insurance claim if the police find the hit-and-run driver?

Several key factors, such as how to file your claim, paying your deductible, and, likely, a claims adjustment, will come into play and significantly affect how your claim is processed if the police successfully identify and locate the hit-and-run driver. This situation can vary based on the specifics of your insurance policy, the laws in your jurisdiction, and the circumstances of the hit-and-run incident.

Initially, you’ll file a claim with your insurance company under your collision, uninsured motorist, or all-perils coverage, depending on your policy and the nature of the incident. You’ll be responsible for paying the deductible as per your policy terms, and your insurer will investigate the claim, assessing the damage to your vehicle and the circumstances of the incident.

However, if the hit-and-run driver is found and they have insurance, your insurance company may seek reimbursement from the at-fault driver’s insurer. If successful, you may be reimbursed for your deductible. However, this process, known as subrogation, can take time.

The responsibility for covering the damages may shift from your insurer to the at-fault driver’s insurance, depending on the circumstances and local laws. As such, your insurance company will likely adjust your claim accordingly, which could involve revising or retracting the claim against your policy.

If your insurer recovers the costs, including your deductible from the at-fault driver’s insurance, the claim may no longer affect your insurance premiums. While the hit-and-run will still be part of your insurance record, it will be documented as an incident where you were not at fault. This record can be important for future insurance quotes or claims.

However, if it is determined that you were actually at fault for the accident, you will not only not receive compensation, but your insurance rate could also increase. Having accident forgiveness coverage can be particularly beneficial in this situation. Furthermore, your third-party liability insurance will then have to cover any damages the other motorist received.

Make sure you’re covered for hit-and-runs

In conclusion, navigating the aftermath of a hit-and-run car accident can be a complex and stressful process, but understanding your car insurance coverage in Toronto, Montreal, or Saskatoon, is key to ensuring you’re adequately protected. Whether it’s collision coverage, uninsured motorist, all-perils coverage, or a combination of these three, knowing what your policy entails is crucial. It’s important to remember that insurance policies and provisions can vary significantly. This is where BrokerLink comes in – offering professional guidance to help you understand your coverage options and ensure that you’re well-equipped to handle such unforeseen incidents. With their brokers’ expertise, they can tailor your insurance policy to fit your specific needs, providing you with peace of mind knowing that you’re covered in the unfortunate event of a hit-and-run.

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FAQs for hit-and-run insurance

Does insurance cover hit-and-run accidents in Ontario?

Yes, in Ontario, car insurance typically covers hit-and-run accidents. If you have collision or all-perils coverage, it can cover damages to your vehicle from the hit-and-run. If you don’t have either coverage, you’ll still have the mandatory uninsured motorist coverage, and this can also provide protection against damages caused by a hit-and-run driver. However, policy terms and deductibles will apply.

What is the penalty for hit and run in Ontario?

Hit-and-run penalty fines can range from $400 to $2,000, and penalties can include up to six months in jail.

Do insurance companies investigate hit-and-runs?

Yes, insurance companies usually investigate hit-and-run incidents. They do this to assess the damage, determine the coverage applicable under your policy, and rule out potential insurance fraud. This investigation may involve reviewing your account of the incident, examining vehicle damage, checking any available surveillance footage, and looking at police reports.

Can you make a hit-and-run claim without a police report?

Making a hit-and-run insurance claim without a police report may be challenging. Most insurance companies require a police report to process such claims to validate the incident and rule out fraud. The report provides official documentation of the incident, which is crucial for the claims process.

What happens if you don't report an accident within 24 hours in Ontario?

If you don’t report an accident within 24 hours in Ontario, you could face several consequences. These include potential fines, difficulties with insurance claims, and even the possibility of your insurance company not covering the damage.. It’s important to report any accident promptly to both the police and your insurance provider to ensure compliance with regulations and insurance policy terms.

Does my insurance cover hit-and-run accidents in a parking lot?

Yes, your insurance can cover hit-and-run accidents in a parking lot, provided you have the appropriate coverage. Collision coverage, uninsured motorist coverage, or all-perils would typically cover such incidents.

What do the police do when hit-and-run accidents happen?

When hit-and-run accidents happen, the police investigate to identify and locate the fleeing driver. They collect evidence from the scene, take statements from witnesses, review any available surveillance footage, and sometimes issue public appeals for information. The gathered evidence helps in filing a report, which is crucial for insurance claims and potential legal action against the responsible party.

Does a hit-and-run fall under no-fault for insurance?

In most cases, a hit-and-run accident is treated as a no-fault claim by insurance companies, meaning your insurer will cover the damages regardless of who caused the accident. The no-fault system is designed to expedite claim processing and reduce the need for legal action to determine fault.

Does your insurance go up after a hit-and-run?

After a hit-and-run, your insurance rates may go up, however, this will vary based on your circumstances. It is also subject to: your insurance provider’s policies, your claims history, and the specifics of your coverage. However, since a hit-and-run is treated as no-fault, the potential increase will be less significant compared to being an at-fault driver. Each insurance company has different policies regarding how claims, including those for hit-and-run incidents, affect premiums.

Does insurance cover a hit-and-run for a parked car?

Yes, insurance typically covers hit-and-run incidents involving a parked car if your auto insurance policy includes collision, uninsured motorist, all-perils coverage or a combination of the three.

If I’m the driver, will my car insurance cover hit-and-run damage?

Yes, even if you are the driver, as long as you have the appropriate coverage, such as collision coverage, uninsured motorist coverage, or all-perils coverage, your car insurance will cover damage from a hit-and-run.

If you have any questions, contact one of our local branches.