What should you do when someone hits your car?

Knowing what to do after an accident can help you stay safe and protect yourself financially

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Knowing what to do when someone hits your car can help you stay safe while protecting yourself financially. Learn the steps to take after an accident. (Shutterstock)

Few things can rattle your nerves quite as much as someone hitting your car. With your heart racing and a million thoughts running through your head, it can be challenging to collect yourself and take proper action.

If someone hits your car, you need to know your options. This guide will help you understand what to do when someone hits your car and what to do if the other person leaves the scene.

With Credible, you can easily compare car insurance quotes from top insurance carriers.

What to do if someone hits your car when it’s parked

If you walk to your parked car and discover that someone hit it with their vehicle, handle the situation like any other accident, and follow the necessary steps:

1. Call the police 

Stay at the scene and call 911. In some areas, especially in major metropolitan regions, law enforcement may not respond to every accident, but you should still try to notify the police. 

Once on the scene, the responding officer will write a police report, which may come in handy when you file an insurance claim for the damage.

2. Document the accident

Attempt to gather as much information as you can at the accident scene. While you wait for the police to respond, try to locate the person who hit your car, if possible, and exchange contact and insurance information. If there are eyewitnesses, record their contact information as well. 

In addition, it’s important to take lots of photos. Pictures are worth a thousand words, so it’s a good idea to use your smartphone to document your car’s damage and the event’s location. This may provide supporting evidence when you file your claim. 

If you locate the driver who hit your vehicle, also take photos of their vehicle and its license plate for your records. If a driver left a note with their contact information, be sure to keep it in a safe place so you have it when you need it.


3. Notify your auto insurance provider and file a claim 

The sooner you contact your insurance carrier while the details are fresh in your memory, the better. Your agent should inform you how the claims process will work and let you know what information they need.

Some car insurance providers allow you to file a claim and upload photos from their mobile app, which allows you to file a claim directly from the accident scene. If you know who hit your vehicle, your insurance carrier will work with that driver’s insurer to settle the claim.


What if someone hits your parked car and leaves?

An incident may be considered a hit-and-run if someone hits your parked car and leaves the scene without leaving any contact information. In this case, the insurance provider may treat the other driver as uninsured.

Follow these steps if someone hits your parked car and flees the scene:

1. Call the police

Since a hit-and-run is a crime, contact the police immediately to file a report. They may be able to help you identify the driver who crashed into your vehicle.

2. Speak with your insurance agent 

Your agent can help you review your policy to see if it covers damages resulting from a hit-and-run. You may need collision or uninsured motorist property damage coverage to pay for damages, but it depends on the state. 

As with any other car accident, it’s also essential to document the damage and your surroundings.

The consequences for fleeing drivers in a hit-and-run accident vary by state. Many states view a hit-and-run accident as a felony offense if someone is seriously injured or a vehicle sustains substantial damage, whether someone is injured or not.

A hit-and-run may also be classified as a misdemeanor. For example, in Pennsylvania, fleeing the scene of an accident is a third-degree misdemeanor — you could receive a $2,500 fine, be sent to prison for up to a year, or both. 


What to do if someone hits your car while driving

When someone crashes into your car while you’re driving, your first priority is to ensure your safety and that of your passengers, if you have any. Here are the steps to follow after someone hits your car on the road:

1. Pull over to a safe area

If possible, move to a safer area out of harm’s way. Of course, there are instances when you may need to stay still until medical personnel arrive. Your safety is your highest priority after an auto accident.

2. Call 911

If you or other drivers or passengers in the accident need medical attention, call 911 immediately. Even if none of the involved parties suffer injuries, it’s still wise to call law enforcement. The police can write an accident report, which can be invaluable in supporting your statements when you file an insurance claim.

3. Exchange information with all drivers

Get the names, contact information, and driver’s license numbers of all drivers involved in the accident. You’ll also want to obtain all driver’s license plate and vehicle identification numbers. Remember, asking to see a driver’s license and vehicle registration is an excellent way to verify a driver’s information.

While gathering information, it’s beneficial to get the names and contact information of other passengers and any witnesses at the scene.

4. Take photos 

Use your camera or smartphone to take pictures of the damage and other pertinent information at the accident scene, like skid marks or weather conditions.

5. Contact your insurance carrier 

Notify your insurance agent immediately after an accident to initiate your claim. Your agent can advise you on the next steps and what to expect during the claims process.

You can visit Credible to compare auto insurance quotes from multiple carriers, all in one place.

Will your insurance go up if your car is hit?

Generally, your car insurance premium with your insurance carrier can increase when you’re at fault for an accident. Unfortunately, the same is true even if you’re not at fault for someone hitting your car, though this depends on your state, your insurer, and the amount of damage. 

For example, if an uninsured motorist hits your car, your insurance carrier may raise your premium after tapping into your uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage to pay for damages. However, the impact on your premium is usually smaller if you’re not at fault.

Paying higher premiums for an accident you didn’t cause is disappointing, to say the least. But you may be able to offset any rate hikes by taking steps to save on your car insurance premium.

Accident forgiveness

If you have accident forgiveness coverage through your insurance carrier, your premium won’t go up after your first accident, even if you’re at fault. You can typically purchase this as an optional coverage for your car insurance, or earn it by driving for a certain period of time without any accidents. 

With Credible, you can compare car insurance quotes from various insurance carriers in minutes.