An involvement in a hit and run accident is maddening. In many cases, there are no witnesses to corroborate your story or to offer information. The at-fault party gets away with the crime, and you may be stuck paying the deductible on your policy. Here are isure’s six steps to handling a hit and run accident. Additionally, we look at how this incident may affect your insurance.
What is a hit and run accident?
A hit and run accident, or “fail to remain” accident, are collisions where the at-fault driver does not stop to give any assistance or take responsibility. Hit and run accidents can take on many forms. This may include bumping into a car while parallel parking, rear-ending a vehicle or fence while backing up, or more seriously, hitting a pedestrian or cyclist and not stopping. Drivers that do not stop after colliding with another vehicle, person or stationary object are known as a hit and run case. Regardless of the damage, the driver has a requirement, by law, to stop.
Two types of hit and run accidents
There are two types of charges for a hit and run accident in Ontario. They will fall under either the Highway Traffic Act or the Criminal Code of Canada, depending on the circumstances:
- When a driver does not stop at the collision scene, then it is a criminal charge under the Criminal Code. Such cases mostly involve cyclists or pedestrians, and the severity of the damages is also very high. This sometimes results in a death.
- When someone faces charges under the Highway Traffic Act for failing to remain at the scene of an accident, it’s treated as a traffic citation. This is most common when someone hits a car in a parking lot or collides with another driver and just drives away.
6 steps to reporting a hit and run accident
Before concerning yourself about your vehicle or the other driver, it is most important to check if anyone suffers injuries in the accident and needs medical assistance. If the collision results in an injury, then you need to call 911 immediately.
- Collect vehicle information: Note down the date and location of the collision. This includes the at-fault vehicle’s make, model, color, license plate number and description of the driver, if possible.
- Seek medical attention: Be sure to call for an ambulance if you feel the injuries suffered by yourself or your passengers warrants it.
- Get photos: Images from different angles of the collision scene and of your car are important. There may be evidence of the other car’s paint on the area with damage.
- Seek out witnesses: Check if anyone saw the accident and take down as many details from witnesses about the other car and the driver as possible. Do not forget to note the witness contact details.
If you were parked in a location with security cameras, such as a parking lot, try finding out if the offender was caught on camera. Speak to security at the office building or mall to see if they might have footage.
- Report the accident: After your injuries have been documented and you have any information that can be used to identify the hit and run driver, it’s time to call the police.
When the property damages are minor and less than $2,000, you may need to report only to the collision centre. You may drive to the collision reporting centre if you can or have your vehicle towed there. If the police tell you they feel that the damages are too minor to report, take down the officer’s name, badge number and phone number so your insurance company can get in touch again.
- Inform your insurance company: Since only the driver is named in the claim, you’ll have to report the damages under your policy. Hit-and-run accidents are the only sort of vehicle collision in which you aren’t at-fault, but must cover your deductible. Be sure to make contact within the period specified in your contract, or they may not consider that you are not at-fault.
Collision coverage in Ontario
Because hit and run accidents are one-sided, reporting car damages will have to be taken care of under your policy. You will not be seen as being at-fault, but you must still pay your collision deductible if the third party is unidentifiable. Be sure to make a police report within 24 hours of the event. You can usually notify your insurance company either before or after you have made the police report.
It’s important to note that many insurers will only accept a car insurance claim if a police report is made. Here are some different scenarios:
Hit and run: No Collision coverage
There will be no insurance benefits for you to help pay for the damages to your vehicle if you do not have collision coverage or you cannot identify the at-fault driver.
Hit and run: Able to identify the at-fault driver
If you can figure out who’s responsible, your insurance will pay for the loss under the Direct Compensation Property Damage (DCPD) portion of your policy. This typically has no deductible. This is why having a witness is beneficial, in most cases. Identifying the offender may help you save money on the deductible by ensuring they are held accountable for the damage. If the motorist is identified and does not have insurance, Uninsured Motorist Coverage will apply. This is standard in all auto policies.
Speak to one of our isure representatives about adding OPCF 44R Family Protection Coverage to your auto policy.
Hit and run penalties
The penalty for a hit-and-run crime under the Criminal Code is severe. When the victim is not identified and the driver faces accusations of failing to stop, they can receive a sentence up to five years in prison. Penalties under the Highway Traffic Act include:
- A fine between $400 and $2,000
- A maximum of six months in jail, or both
- Demerit points
- Possible license suspension of up to two years
Will a hit and run claim raise my insurance?
Not at-fault driver
In most cases, your rates should not go up due to this incident. If you’re not at-fault for the hit and run and you made a report to police before filing the claim, your premium will not go up due to this type of incident. If it does, it will be for different reasons unrelated to a hit-and-run accident. All you have to worry about is paying the deductible.
Sometimes drivers hide a hit-and-run incident from their insurer even after the police are aware of it. In this case, your insurance company may consider this a breach of contract or misrepresentation since you did not disclose information. Causing an at-fault hit and run accident makes you a huge risk to your insurer.
The consequences of an at-fault hit and run accident on your insurance are:
- Cancellation of your coverage, or
- An increase in your premiums, as they may consider you a high-risk driver.
- Difficulty finding another insurer to cover your risk.
- The hit and run incident can stay on your insurance record for at least three to four years, up to seven years.
- If you injure a pedestrian or kill someone in a collision, you may also face a lawsuit. As a result, your insurer may not cover the legal expenses as you are in violation of the law.
- Your third-party liability insurance will need to step in to cover any accident benefits claims form any person with injuries.
Involvement in a hit and run accident can be stressful. However, if you think quickly and follow the steps above, you can cover all of your bases without a worry. Each situation is unique and has an impact from the coverage you have with your current car insurance provider. If you want to discuss your own coverage or deductibles, contact your isure broker today to learn more about your DCPD and collision policies.