If you’re a victim of a hit-and-run accident, you won’t be protected if you only have the minimum mandatory third-party liability coverage.
A hit and run is a serious criminal offence. Even if tragedy doesn’t strike, the victims can be left with serious personal injuries or damage to their vehicle. To make matters worse, victims of hit and runs can sometimes be left to handle the financial aftermath.
In Ontario, drivers are required to purchase third-party liability coverage before hitting the road. This type of insurance is designed to protect the driver if another person is killed, injured, or faces property damage. The coverage will compensate for any lawsuit claims up to the coverage limit. It also covers the costs of settling a claim.
However, if you’re a victim of a hit-and-run accident, you won’t be protected with just third-party liability coverage alone.
Under no-fault insurance in Ontario, which ensures a payout regardless of whether the claimant was at fault, a hit-and-run claim is only paid out if the driver has optional collision coverage, says Anne Marie Thomas, director of consumer and industry relations at the Insurance Bureau of Canada.
So, if you’re involved in a hit-and-run and you only have limited liability coverage without collision or comprehensive coverage for your vehicle, it’s likely you may not be covered for the damages you experience. That’s why securing collision car insurance that can protect you in this scenario is a good idea.
In order for no-fault insurance to kick in, the other driver has to be identified and have their own insurance policy, Thomas says.
While collision coverage comes in handy after a hit and run, you’ll likely still pay some fees if you and your insurance provider can’t identify the other driver. According to Thomas, in these instances, you’ll be responsible for paying your collision deductible, which can range anywhere from $500 to $1,000, depending on the amount you chose when you signed up for your policy.
If you’re the victim of a hit–and–run — either while driving or if you notice your car got dinged in a parking lot — you should do your best to identify the driver. “See if there are security cameras,” Thomas says. “Ask for witnesses. Do what you can to find the driver that hit you.”
Without identifying the other person, there’s no way your insurance provider can locate the other driver’s insurance company and policy to reimburse what’s paid out on your claim.
Just be careful not to chase after the driver, Thomas adds. “If you’re on the road and somebody hits you and takes off, don’t try to hunt the person down. It’s for your own safety,” she says. “You don’t know who is in the car.”
“You also don’t want to be seen as fleeing the scene of an accident. You want to make sure you’re on the right side of the law.”
You should report the incidents as soon as it happens, either to the police or by bringing your vehicle to the nearest collision reporting centre. “Without a police report, the insurance company may not deem it to be a not-at-fault accident,” she says.
If an instance ever arises where you cause a collision and think of taking off, think twice. Refusing to stop after a traffic accident is an offence under the Criminal Code of Canada, and can lead to fines, imprisonment, and suspension of your driver’s licence.
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