Getting into a car accident is never a pleasant experience. Even minor fender benders can cause headaches with insurance claims, body shop visits, and other hassles. But what if the other driver speeds off after the collision without stopping or exchanging information? Now you’re left to deal with the aftermath of a hit and run on your own.
While hit and run crashes account for a fairly small percentage of all accidents, they still number in the tens of thousands each year in the U.S. alone. If you’ve been the victim of one of these collisions, you’re probably wondering what comes next. Specifically, many drivers want to know: will a hit and run cause my car insurance rates to increase?
The short answer is, it depends. There are a number of factors that determine how a hit and run affects your auto insurance premiums. Read on to learn more about how insurers view these types of claims, when a rate hike is likely, steps to minimize any increase, and your options if your insurer does raise your rates.
Do Insurers View Hit and Runs Differently Than Other Accidents?
When it comes to setting premiums, insurance companies generally don’t distinguish between who was at fault in an accident. That means even if the other driver was 100% responsible for a collision, if you file a claim your rates could still go up at renewal time.
Hit and run claims are treated similarly. Insurers don’t really care why the other driver left the scene. The end result is still the same: you filed a claim, which costs them money in repairs and other expenses.
However, there are a few unique factors with uninsured motorist claims from hit and runs that may impact how it affects your premiums:
No clear liability determination: Without the other driver present, insurers have a harder time determining fault. This ambiguity could make a rate increase less likely.
Potential for fraud: Some unscrupulous drivers stage “hit and runs” to collect insurance payouts. Companies may view hit and run claims with more scrutiny.
Difficulty recovering costs: Since the at-fault driver is unknown, it’s impossible to pursue them for reimbursement of claim expenses. This means higher losses for insurers.
Overall, each company looks at hit and run claims in light of their broader underwriting policies and loss history data. But generally speaking, they pose similar risks to insurers as more “typical” accident claims.
When Will a Hit and Run Definitely Raise Insurance Rates?
While every situation is different, there are some clear-cut instances where filing an uninsured motorist claim from a hit and run will cause your car insurance rates to go up.
You are determined to be partially or entirely at fault for the accident. Even without the other driver present, insurance companies can piece together an idea of liability based on physical evidence and your account of what happened. If their investigation indicates you share fault for the collision, expect your premiums to increase.
The claim amount is large. If repairs to your vehicle and/or medical bills from injuries sustained are significant, insurance carriers view that as a major loss on their end. Big claims always increase the likelihood and severity of a rate hike.
You file the claim under collision coverage. Collision claims are one of the biggest factors in determining car insurance costs. Using this coverage for a hit and run means you’ll almost certainly see a premium increase at renewal time.
You have a history of other at-fault accidents or claims. Drivers with clean records tend to get the benefit of the doubt. But if you’ve filed multiple claims in the past, insurers will be quicker to take action after another one – even if it resulted from a hit and run.
You have minimum liability coverage limits. Lower liability limits correlate with higher risk. Drivers who only carry the minimum required coverage are more prone to rate hikes generally. A hit and run claim may compound this effect.
You live in a state that allows consideration of not-at-fault accidents. A small minority of states, such as California and Oklahoma, give insurers more leeway to raise rates based on not-at-fault claims. So location matters too.
Steps to Minimize a Rate Increase After a Hit and Run
If it seems likely your car insurance costs will go up due to an uninsured motorist claim from a hit and run, there are some proactive steps you can take to minimize the size of the increase:
Keep your collision deductible high. Collision coverage claims drive rate hikes more than uninsured motorist claims. So choosing a higher deductible upfront means lower payouts for insurers if you do file a claim later.
Take a defensive driving course. Completing an approved defensive driving class can earn you a discount with some insurers. This could help offset a premium increase.
Look for other discounts. Review your policy to see what other discounts may be available, such as for good student drivers, anti-theft devices, bundling policies, and maintaining a clean driving record. Any discount helps!
Increase liability coverage limits. Higher liability limits signal lower risk to insurers. Boosting this coverage now can help limit hikes or qualify for more discounts.
Shop around. Don’t just accept a rate increase from your current insurer. Shop competing quotes to see if you can find cheaper premiums elsewhere.
Appeal the increase. You may be able to convince your insurance company to reduce or reverse the rate hike, especially if you have a good claims history. It never hurts to ask!
How Much Can Premiums Increase After a Hit and Run Claim?
There’s no universal formula to determine exactly how much your car insurance will go up after filing a hit and run claim. Every insurer uses its own proprietary methods to set and adjust premiums based on claims history and other risk factors.
However, some insurers do publish general guidelines:
- Allstate: Uninsured motorist claims may increase premiums by 20% to 40%
- Geico: Rates may go up between 3% to 10% per uninsured motorist claim
- Progressive: Expect about a 30% increase on average
These are just ballpark figures, but it gives you a sense of typical increases insurers will implement. The exact amount will depend on all the rating variables discussed above.
For major claims that exceed policy limits or where the policyholder is partially at fault, increases can be more dramatic – even doubling premiums in some cases. Again, a lot depends on your individual situation and insurer.
What If Your Rates Go Up After a Hit and Run That Wasn’t Your Fault?
It can be incredibly frustrating to have your insurance rates increased after a hit and run accident you didn’t cause. However, as we’ve discussed, insurers generally consider all claims when adjusting premiums – even not-at-fault ones.
If you feel you’re being unfairly penalized, here are some options:
File a complaint with your state insurance regulator. Each state has a department that oversees insurance companies and can pursue violations if justified.
Work it out with the insurer. Contact the company to explain your situation and see if they will make an exception on the increase. Provide supporting evidence showing you weren’t at fault.
Use your one “accident forgiveness.” Some insurers give drivers one “pass” on a rate hike if it’s the first not-at-fault claim. Check if this applies to you.
Switch insurers. Shop competitor quotes to see if another insurer will offer you a better premium without the increase.
Wait it out. Rate hikes don’t last forever. Maintain a clean driving record for 3-5 years and your premium should eventually drop back down.
The Bottom Line
Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that a hit and run accident won’t increase your auto insurance rates, even if you did nothing wrong. Insurance companies generally consider all claims when adjusting premiums at renewal time.
However, not every hit and run claim will mean a rate hike. Factors like fault, claim size, policy limits, and your driving record all impact how insurers respond. There are also steps you can take to minimize potential increases.
While you have options if your insurer does raise rates after a hit and run, it’s difficult to avoid completely. That’s why it’s critical to have adequate uninsured motorist coverage in place before an accident happens. This can help shield you from some of the financial impact if disaster strikes.
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