What to Do When Your Car Gets Hit and They Don’t Leave a Note

Car accidents are no fun, plain and simple. But while getting into a fender bender might ruin your day, it’s nothing compared to having someone hit your parked car and take off without leaving a note.  What should you do if someone hits your car and doesn’t leave any contact or insurance information behind?

Step 1: Call the Police

Whether your car was parked or moving, a hit-and-run is still a hit-and-run, so your first step should be to call the police and file a report. Some states may require you to file a report anyway, but a police report provides you with proof of what happened, and you can provide it to your insurance company when you file your claim.

Depending on where the accident took place, police may also be able to access security camera recordings from businesses to help find the person who hit your car.

Step 2: Take Pictures and Talk to Witnesses

Chances are your smartphone has a camera on it, so use it to take some pictures of the damage and the surrounding area. These pictures are good to have for your own records, as well as for the records of your insurance company. Take wide angle photos of the whole car and close-ups of any damage.

This step is also where you want to talk to witnesses, if there are any. Collect contact information for them, as well as any information they might have about the car that struck yours.

Step 3: Call Your Insurance Company

Reporting the accident to your insurance company is the next step. This should be done as soon as possible after the accident — while you do need to report the accident to the police first, reporting to your insurance company soon after the accident will help to expedite the claims process.

Your insurance agent will likely request a copy of the police report and any pictures. They may also send an inspector out to go over the car in person, depending on the damage. In most cases, if you have uninsured motorist coverage, you will be covered in the event of a hit-and-run.

Step 4: Look Into Repairs

Eventually, you will have to look into repairing the damage done to your car. Minor dents can often be repaired without the need for traditional bodywork — that is, without using fillers or paint. Professional paintless dent repair helps to remove dents without requiring additional work. It’s quick and painless, so to speak.

More extensive damage will require some body work — and severe damage to the frame may even require that the car be replaced entirely. You won’t often see this degree of damage during a parked car hit-and-run accident, but you should always have the car inspected by a professional to ensure it is safe to continue to drive.

There’s nothing worse than coming out of a store to find that someone has hit your car, but with a few steps, you can protect yourself and get your car repaired. Just make sure you file a police report and call your insurance company — and everything else will fall into place.

From Scott Huntington, a guest NMA blogger who is an automotive writer from central Pennsylvania. Check out his work at Off The Throttle or follow him on Twitter@SMHuntington


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One Response to “What to Do When Your Car Gets Hit and They Don’t Leave a Note”

  1. Rich Koch says:

    One more thing to consider is the deductible on your insurance policy. Your insurance carrier will only start to pay when the damage costs more than the deductible. Even then, your premium may rise a couple hundred a year for the next three years because you filed a claim. The point is to think twice and do the math before getting the insurer involved, unless the damage is significantly over your deductible, or unless someone was hurt.