3/15/08

Who's responsible for hit and run damage?

The question is, 'who's responsible for hit and run damage?', The 'runner' would be responsible of course, but if they 'ran' chances are they may not be caught and thus made responsible for their actions. Hopefully the victim got a license plate (if that were possible and not just hit while parked and no one around to witness this accident) and this can be traced either thru their local law enforcement agency or their states DMV.

If you have collision coverage you can file the claim, and have your vehicle repaired (subject to your deductible) your company will attempt to subrogate the guilty party, recouping your deductible and their payout (if information on fleeing vehicle is available).

You do not say which state you are in, so I couldn't check that states requirements or coverage definitions directly, however I think it needs to be clarified that uninsured motorist coverage (in all but very few states that mandate UM also includes UMPD), will ONLY cover injuries and costs associated with the injury caused by a negligent uninsured driver. Uninsured motorist property damage coverage, is NOT a required, but rather optional coverage that (unfortunately), most people neither know about or have. Will cover the physcial damage to your vehicle caused by a negligent uninsured driver subject to the deductible. Most people however would not see the necessity of carrying UMPD if they have collision coverage. There is no deductible for uninsured motorist coverage.


Responsibility for Hit and Run Damage
Here are answers and opinions from FAQ Farmers:


The driver and or the owner of the vehicle being driven is responsible for the damage caused. Since it was a hit and run, I assume no coverge on their part. If you have Full coverage Insurance or at least uninsured motorists, then your policy will cover the loss. A police report is recommended.

This is a good question, particularly since it's such a frustrating thing. The best way to look at it is this: Your deductible has nothing to do with liability. Rather, your deductible relates to the rates you pay for insurance, and how much of the damages you are willing to absorb out-of-pocket. Your insurance carrier considers your deductible the amount you agreed to pay in any accident, regardless of fault and assuming your carrier is paying for damages to your vehicle. For instance, say you're sitting at a red light, and a drunk driver comes up behind you and rear ends your vehicle. Obviously, you're not at-fault for that; however, if you choose to go through your own insurance, you'll still be required to pay your deductible when you have your vehicle repaired. Unfortunately, unlike an accident in which the other driver is known, your insurance company can't go after a hit-and-run driver (this is called "subrogation," which most insurance companies are happy to pursue when they can because they want their money back, too). So, unless your insurance policy waives deductibles for hit-and-run accidents (which is rare), you'll be paying.

Be careful about reporting this if the damage is minimal. Someone dented my truck overnight in a parking lot. I reported it to my insurance company, the repair was $526. I paid the $500 deductable, and they paid the $26. About 4.5 years later, I'm shopping for new insurance, and the insurance companies are adding about $130/6-months because of that 'accident'.

EXACTLY.. (referring to the last post).. I was in a hit and run, my car was totaled. My own insurance company paid me $5,196 for my dead Honda Civic (RIP). But the pay out was from my collision insurance. SO... that claims record shows up when I try to shop around to other insurance companies... even though my carrier (GEICO) coded the accident as me being NOT at fault... the other companies don't care! They see your claims history, and their risk algorhithms return higher rates! It's crap!

If you have uninsured motorist coverage, it should cover this damage. It could depend upon on policy language and state law, but only to the extent that crafty adjusters use such reasons, falsely, to convince their trusting insureds not to pursue coverage for the deductible. While there is not a deductible, per se, for this coverage, an insured is usually required to pay 'the first $250' in damages. This is an important distinction; while you can choose varying amounts for your deductible, which will influence your premium amount, the amount you pay toward your damages due to an uninsured motorist does NOT change, allowing you to influence your premium amount. Additionally, because it was paid under Uninsured Motorist coverage, it will be clear to any potential NEW carrier, that this was NOT an at fault accident. And to further complicate matters, with some insurance carriers, you could possibly be required to identify the hit-run driver in order to trigger the UM coverage. (license plate, year/make/model/color, etc. You may not have to have name, rank, & serial number.).
Again, this is inevitably an insurance adjuster ploy. The only legitimate reason for which an adjuster may ask for such information is when an insured damages their own car and claims that the cause was another car which forced them off the road but did not actually strike their vehicle. (known in the trade as a "phantom" driver claim).

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