The Ways a Hit and Run Affects Your Car Insurance Premium
No one wants to experience a hit and run accident, but they happen all of the time. Drivers flee the scene of a moving violation or they hit a parked car and don’t leave a note. Either way, without the ‘at fault’ person to blame, the financial liability falls on you, but how does it affect your car insurance premium?
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Filing a Claim
If you have an accident and file an insurance claim, it shows up on your insurance record. Whether or not it affects your insurance premium depends on the situation. For example, a one-time hit and run accident (where you are the victim) probably won’t affect your car insurance rates, but if you have a history of multiple accidents (hit and run or otherwise), your rates may increase even though you didn’t cause the accident.
Insurance companies base your premiums on the likelihood of you filing a claim. Your claim history helps them determine this. If you have a claim once every five years, you don’t pose a serious risk for claims. But, if you file claims several times a year, the insurance company has a much higher likelihood of paying out on your claims, which may cause them to raise your premiums.
How the Insurance Company Files the Claim
Pay close attention to the ways that insurance companies file your hit and run. If you can prove that you were not at fault, you need the accident coded ‘not at fault.’ This will help your insurance premiums moving forward.
Even if you don’t change insurance companies, auto insurance typically increases every year at renewal. If you have any accidents within the last three years (the typical insurance lookback), insurance companies consider you a high risk and will increase your premiums. If your insurance company codes them as ‘not at fault,’ though, it could minimize the increase.
How Hit and Run Affects the Premiums of At Fault Drivers
Now, let’s flip the coin. If you cause a hit and run accident and your insurance company finds out about it, your premiums will increase significantly. In some cases, the insurance company may even drop you from their insurance. It depends on the severity of the accident and the liabilities caused.
Causing a hit and run and not owning up to the damages could leave you at risk of a lawsuit or worse yet, criminal charges during a fatal accident. Insurance companies view hit and run drivers as risky and irresponsible. If you don’t own up to the accident, it shows that you aren’t responsible and could cause the insurance company serious liability.
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Other Reasons Your Insurance May Increase
Insurance companies don’t look at a single isolated incident when figuring out your insurance premiums. As we stated above, one hit and run (not your fault) probably won’t have much of an effect on your insurance rates. But, certain other factors may increase your rates in combination with the hit and run, such as getting speeding tickets or other moving violations or experiencing several car accidents within a short period.
Insurance companies look at the big picture. They want to know the likelihood that you will experience an accident and/or become a liability that they have to pay. Some insurance companies will increase your premiums accordingly, while others will drop you from their insurance altogether.
Should You File a Claim for a Hit and Run?
The law doesn’t require you to file a claim against your insurance if you have an accident. If someone hits you and flees the scene, consider the necessity of a claim if you worry about your premiums increasing.
Assess the damages and determine if you can pay for them out of pocket. Typically, $1,000 is a good threshold, but you know what you can afford. If you can comfortably pay for the damages, you may skip filing with insurance just to save on your premiums. Be careful, though, if you even talk to your agent about the possibility of a claim, he or she may mark it on your insurance record, even if you don’t follow through with the claim.
In the end, a hit and run accident may or may not affect your insurance premiums. It depends on the circumstances of the accident and your other driving record/habits. Your insurance claims typically follow you for three years, so keep that in mind as you decide whether you should file a claim or not.
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