In most parts of the country, sweater weather is finally here. Starbucks released their new holiday cup, parents are trying to get their children to pose nicely for a holiday card, and neighborhood and apartment complex decoration competitions have begun!
It’s definitely an interesting time of year. While most holiday traditions are fun (or awesomely corny), some aren’t. Between Thanksgiving and the New Year, your car could be vulnerable to a not-so-fun yearly occurrence: a 20% increase in parking lot accidents. With over 1 million parking lot accidents occurring annually, that’s no small number. Happy holidays?
With hoards of people flocking to the mall every day and drivers distracted by Bing Crosby crooning over the radio, your odds of getting caught on the wrong side of someone’s distracted driving increase over the holidays. While a nice driver will leave their contact information on your car’s dash if they hit you in a hurry, not everyone ends up on Santa’s nice list. Although no one wants to fall prey to a hit and run driver, you should be prepared for the possibility. Read on for our guide to handling a hit and run, with top tips we hope you’ll never have to use!
What is a hit and run?
According to DMV.org, a hit and run accident is “any accident in which a driver intentionally leaves the scene without providing contact information.”
That could mean:
- Another car hits yours without stopping to exchange information or
- Someone hits your unattended vehicle and doesn’t leave their contact information
How to report a hit and run
As stressful as being the victim of a hit and run may be, try to stay calm. Not only will staying calm help you avoid eating an entire bottle of Tums, it’ll also help keep you rational when dealing with the accident.
Step 1: Get as much information as possible
When you gather information about the hit and run, you help police catch the culprit and help your car insurance company make an informed decision. Unfortunately, some drivers claim hit and runs to defraud insurance companies, so providing them with good information will help them know you’re being truthful.
Here’s what you should record:
- If you saw the car that hit yours, write down everything you remember about it: color, make, model, license plate, a description of the driver, etc.
- Write down and take pictures of any damage done to your vehicle, especially if another car’s paint is visible.
- Take pictures of the scene. Giving context of your situation (where you were parked, other vehicles around you, etc.) can help investigators piece together the situation later.
- Witness information. Whether you saw the incident or not, someone parked nearby might have. Ask around and get the contact information of anyone who could serve as a witness as well as a brief report of what they saw.
Step 2: File a police report
Call the police as soon as possible after gathering information, preferably while still at the scene. (If you can, call the local police non-emergency number to avoid taking resources from emergencies. A quick Google search can help you find your area’s non-emergency number.) Even if you don’t have enough information for police to find the culprit in your hit and run, having a report on file can help when dealing with the insurance company.
Step 3: Contact your insurance company
If you find the culprit, save yourself time and money by filing directly through their insurance company. If not, call your company and file a report. Give them all the information you recorded and schedule an estimate at their local shop. Coverage for hit and runs varies by state, insurance company, and your specific insurance policy. Some states even require deductibles to be waived in the case of a hit and run. Categorization of the accident and cost to you, the driver, varies, but your insurance agent should be able to help you navigate the process.