What Happens if I'm Hit by an Uninsured Driver?
Any day that your car is hit by another car is a bad day. But, if your vehicle is hit by one of the 28 million uninsured drivers in the United States, your day may have just gotten a lot worse.
Being hit by an uninsured driver is always a potential risk when you get behind the wheel. Even though state laws generally demand that drivers have minimum insurance coverage, 1 out of every 8 (12.6%) of drivers in America are uninsured.
Depending on your insurance policy and your state’s laws, you may have uninsured motorist coverage built into your premium. If this is the case, you have less to worry about.
Regardless, if you are hit by an uninsured driver, there are several steps you should take to ensure that your coverage actually kicks in and keeps you protected.
Get Emergency Support if Needed
There is no “first step” that anybody takes after being in a collision with another car. You or the other party might be injured and require immediate medical attention. Your first step may be to exit your car and throw around some choice words. Or, you might just break down and cry.
There are a lot of different things you may do first. That said, you’ll remember any car accident for the rest of your life. You might as well make the memory a calm, cool and collected one.
If people are hurt, call 911. If nobody is injured but the cars are pretty banged up, you should probably still contact the police. Ideally, you will want a police report to show your insurer.
However, depending on the location and situation, the authorities may or may not come if there haven’t been any injuries.
If the police can’t make it to the scene of your accident, they’ll advise you to exchange insurance information with the other driver. This is great advice, but it gets a little more complicated if the other driver is uninsured.
Whether or not the other driver has insurance, try and remain calm. Losing your cool won’t help the situation.
For starters, the other driver might be agitated, and you don’t want your car accident to ignite a road rage incident. Plus, by staying calm and collected, you’re more likely to get all of the things you need out of this situation to make your claim with your insurer.
Also, if your anger gets the best of you, you may end up saying something you’ll regret down the line when it comes to your claim or court.
Yes, you may be unnerved and wonder if you have good insurance coverage or if your policy might not cut it. That said, you don’t know what the outcome will be. You may believe that your policy doesn’t have uninsured motorist coverage when, in fact, it does.
No matter what, it’s always a good idea to be familiar with the ins and outs of your car insurance policy so that you are prepared when an accident happens.
Get Documentation and Take Photos
At this point, you have a few simple goals so that you can wrap up this situation and hopefully continue on with your day as originally planned.
Make sure you:
Try to collect the motorist’s contact information
Try to collect the motorist’s contact information so that your insurer can have a talk with them.
Take a lot of pictures of the other driver’s car
Ideally, take a lot of pictures of the other driver’s car and your own. You should try to get the other car’s license plate in the photos so that if the uninsured driver gives you a fake name and phone number (hey, anything is possible), you have a way for the police to track them down. Of course, if there’s a lot of damage, you or the other driver may have called a tow truck. In this case, you have plenty of time to take pictures of both cars.
Get any other additional information
Get any other additional information that you can about the accident. If there are witnesses – maybe some drivers who stopped to see if everybody was okay – you could ask for their names and phone numbers. Your insurer will want to talk to them.
Keep the Chit Chat to a Minimum
If you and the other driver are both waiting around for the police or tow trucks, talk about the weather rather than how they don’t make stop signs like they used to.
You may think you were at fault for the accident when you weren’t. But, by taking the blame, you’re giving the uninsured motorist or witnesses some ammunition to use against you.
Alternately, you might be blaming this idiot for plowing into you only to find out that your insurance company and three bystanders think that you’re the one who needs remedial driving lessons.
Ultimately, it’s just best to say little about the accident while you are still at the scene.
Work With Your Insurer, Not the Uninsured Driver
If you are dealing with an uninsured driver, they are probably feeling a little panicky. They may try to offer you money for the damage to your car in hopes that you won’t report the accident to the police or your insurer.
It may be tempting if somebody’s offering to write you a check on the spot or trying to hand you a wad of cash, but you should politely decline.
While it may seem like a no-brainer to take the money if somebody’s shoving $500 in your face, what if fixing that broken taillight and bruised fender actually costs $2,000 because you didn’t discover until later that your trunk will no longer open or your vehicle has alignment issues?
Or, what if a couple of days pass and you realize you have your own alignment issues? What happens if your back is sore and a doctor’s visit is in your future?
It’s better to let your insurance company handle everything.
Report the Incident to Your Insurer
This should go to the top of your to-do list after you’ve bid farewell to the uninsured motorist who hit you. Many insurers allow you 30 days to file your claim, but why wait? You’re going to need your car fixed sooner rather than later.
Plus, if you have an uninsured driver that your insurer needs to deal with, that’s going to be complicated and all the more reason to get your incident reported ASAP.
Your bad day will get a little better once your insurer can get the ball rolling so that you can get a check in your hands and your car repaired or replaced.
Getting hit by an uninsured driver is an inconvenience, but it’s not the end of the world. Making sure you have full coverage car insurance that includes uninsured motorist coverage can help protect your finances if an uninsured driver hits you.
No matter what, remember to stay calm and get the information you need to file a claim with your insurance company. If you are able to keep your emotions in check, dealing with this irritating situation will be much easier.
About Geoff Williams
- Insurance Information Institute. "Facts + Statistics: Uninsured motorists." Accessed July 20, 2022.