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For most people, a car is more than just a chunk of moving metal. It’s where you spend hours each day, trekking from place to place. It might be how you transport your kids, where you eat your lunch in peace, or how you travel across the country.

Even if your vehicle is just a method of daily transportation, it can feel overwhelming if someone else damages or destroys it. After ensuring that you’re in a safe location and calling the police, you’ll need to follow a few steps if someone hits your vehicle.

Here’s what to do when someone hits your car:

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

Not all car accidents occur while your vehicle is in motion. Sometimes, you might find that someone has hit your car while it was parked on the curb overnight, or in a parking lot or garage.

If your vehicle is hit while you’re away and you don’t actually see the accident occur, you should first and foremost ensure that you’re in a safe location. If your vehicle is parked next to a busy road, for example, it may not be safe to check for damage or anything the other driver may have left behind (like a note, if you’re lucky!).

Here are the steps to take if someone hits your car while it’s parked:

  1. Don’t move your car right away or leave the scene.
  2. Try to find the person who hit your car, then exchange information.
  3. Document the damage with photos and notes.
  4. File a police report.
  5. Contact your insurance carrier to file a claim (if you can’t locate the person who hit your vehicle).
Keep in mind: If the other driver left a note with their car insurance information, you should contact their insurance carrier to file a claim for damages. If they didn’t leave a note, however, your next steps will be a bit different.

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What if someone hits your parked car and leaves?

Unfortunately, some people may leave after hitting your vehicle, whether they don’t realize they bumped your parked car or simply don’t want to pay for the repairs. In either case, you’ll be stuck with a damaged vehicle and no responsible driver to pay for it.

First, contact the police to file a police report. The police may also be able to help you figure out who hit you using other resources. If the area has video surveillance, for example, you may be able to get evidence from the incident which you can use to identify the hit-and-run driver. This could come in the form of:

  • Parking garage cameras
  • Home security footage, such as video doorbell cameras or outdoor surveillance
  • Video feeds from businesses nearby

It’s also a good idea to ask others in the area if they witnessed the accident. If anyone did, get their contact information.

Good to know: If you’re unable to locate the person who hit your car, you’ll either have to pay for the repairs out of your own pocket, or file a claim against your own auto insurance policy. Collision coverage and uninsured motorist property damage coverage can help pay for damages to your vehicle caused by a hit-and-run driver.

What to do if someone hits your car while driving

Getting in an accident while driving can be scary, even if the damage is minimal. If someone hits your car while you’re driving, follow these steps:

  1. Ensure that you and your passengers aren’t injured. Check for injuries and make sure you or your passengers don’t need immediate medical attention.
  2. Move your vehicle off the roadway. If everyone is OK and your vehicle is driveable, move your car to a safe spot on the side of the road, especially if you’re blocking traffic lanes.
  3. Call the police. Depending on the severity of the accident and damage, and whether anyone is injured, a police officer may or may not come to your location to write a report or direct traffic. They’ll collect information from all drivers involved and take reports from any witnesses.
  4. Take photos of the damage. Document the damage and any other important information. Also take photos of the road, any nearby intersections, and the other vehicles involved. Remember, only do this if you’re in a safe location (not the middle of the highway!) and can take photos without putting yourself in danger.
  5. Exchange information with the other driver. If another driver is at fault, be sure to get their name, license plate number, insurance information, and contact information. If the police come to take a report, they’ll also gather this information — but having it in your possession can help you start filing a claim as soon as possible and get your vehicle repaired faster.
  6. File a claim. You can either contact your own insurance carrier or the other driver’s to begin this process, depending on who’s at fault. You’ll need to give an official statement of your version of events and submit any documentation you have.

Will your insurance go up if your car is hit?

Whether or not your auto insurance premium increases after an accident depends on who’s at fault and how you file your claim:

  • If another driver is at fault for the accident and their insurance carrier covers the cost of repairs, your own insurance premium is unlikely to change much, if at all. However, in some states, premiums can go up slightly even for accidents where the other driver is at fault.
  • If another driver is at fault but doesn’t have coverage or it’s a hit-and-run, you might be forced to file a claim against your own policy. If you have collision or comprehensive coverage (which are part of a full coverage policy), your own carrier should step in to cover the expenses up to your policy limits. Depending on the details of the situation, you may or may not see your premium increase.
  • If you’re at fault for an accident and file a claim against your insurance, you can expect your premium to increase at renewal time. The amount of this increase depends on the details of the accident, the type of policy you have, and whether or not you’re eligible for accident forgiveness through your carrier.

Learn More: How Long Do Car Accidents Stay on Your Record?

What if the other driver doesn’t have insurance?

Nearly all states require drivers to carry a minimum amount of liability coverage or, in the case of no-fault states, personal injury protection (PIP). Even with this requirement, though, drivers still get on the road without insurance coverage. If you’re hit by one of these uninsured drivers, it can be more difficult to get your expenses covered.

If another driver is at fault but doesn’t have any insurance coverage, follow these steps:

  1. Call the police. A police report is essential in this situation, since it can help you get reimbursed for damages.
  2. Exchange information. Get all the same contact information that you would in an accident with an insured driver.
  3. Document the accident. Take photos and notes about what happened.
  4. File a claim. Contact your insurer and let them know that you were in an accident with an uninsured driver. Provide them with all the information you gathered, as well as your notes and photos. If you have uninsured motorist coverage, you can file a claim against that. This coverage will help cover your expenses. If you don’t have uninsured motorist coverage, you can use your own collision coverage to cover the costs, if you have it, or you can take the other driver to court to recoup your losses.

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About the author
Stephanie Colestock
Stephanie Colestock

Stephanie Colestock is a Washington, D.C.-based writer who has more than 11 years of experience in writing about investing, business, and personal finances. She’s contributed to outlets such as Yahoo! Finance, MSN, Investopedia, Credit Karma, Credible, and more.

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