Any car accident is stressful, but it adds another layer of tension if the other person speeds away before exchanging information. While this type of accident is especially uncomfortable, it’s not uncommon. If you’re dealing with a hit-and-run situation in Florida and wondering what to do, you’re not alone. Nearly one-quarter of all Sunshine State accidents are hit-and-runs, which is why Florida has established hit-and-run laws to hold the other driver accountable. There are also various insurance coverage options available to help pay for any bills after the accident. Understanding how to handle a hit-and-run in Florida can help reduce the stress that follows such incidents.
Hit-and-runs in Florida
Throughout Florida, any accident becomes a hit-and-run when one driver leaves the scene of the accident before doing two things. First, Florida state law requires that every involved driver stays at the accident scene long enough to exchange personal information such as name, address, vehicle registration number and license number with the other drivers. Second, state law also requires that drivers stay long enough to “render to any person injured in the crash reasonable assistance,” which can even include taking them to a doctor.
While those are the only two requirements mentioned to avoid being charged with a hit-and-run in Florida, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) reports that nearly 25% of drivers break the law anyway.
The FLHSMV data also shows that the vast majority of hit-and-run fatalities occur between 6 p.m. and 5 a.m., so it’s important to take extra precautions while driving between dusk and dawn.
Florida hit-and-run laws
In 2014, the hit-and-run Florida statute was modified with the passage of the Aaron Cohen Life Protection Act (section 316.027, Florida Statutes), which outlined a stricter Florida hit-and-run law after a cyclist and father of two was killed by a hit-and-run driver. Now, the penalties for a hit-and-run in Florida include:
- Second-degree misdemeanor charge: $500 fine and up to 60 days in prison for property damage.
- Second or third-degree felony charge: $5,000 fine, up to five years in prison and minimum three-year license revocation for injuries.
- First-degree felony charge: $10,000 fine, between four and thirty years in prison and minimum three-year license revocation for fatalities.
These penalties assume the driver is found. However, even if law enforcement can’t identify or locate the hit-and-run driver, you could still receive financial protection, as long as you have proper insurance coverage.
How hit-and-runs impact car insurance rates in Florida
No matter which side of a hit-and-run you’re on, there are potential car insurance consequences to face. For the victim of a hit-and-run, the most significant impact on their insurance will likely be a premium increase if they file a claim. For a driver at fault for a hit-and-run, there will likely be a substantial increase in their insurance premiums if they are found. The at-fault driver may also need to maintain an SR-22 form for a number of years following the accident. The accident can also be added to the at-fault driver’s driving record. In some situations, the driver may have difficulty finding insurance companies that will offer them coverage.
Average car insurance rate increases for at-fault drivers after a hit-and-run in Florida are significantly higher than the national average. The rate increase for being at fault for a hit-and-run is nearly double the rise caused by being at fault for standard auto accidents. This difference in premium increases highlights how much riskier drivers are viewed as when they commit hit-and-run accidents.
Average annual full coverage premiums:
|Before a hit-and-run||After a hit-and-run||After a standard at-fault accident|
Eight things to do after a hit-and-run in Florida
There are still some steps that can be taken by drivers who are the victim of a hit-and-run following the accident.
- Move your vehicle to a safe place at the scene of the accident. Stay as close to the accident scene as possible, but move out of the flow of traffic.
- Make sure everyone is okay. Check on all passengers. Look for injuries and call paramedics as needed.
- Call the police. A police report will provide backup for any insurance claims that need to be filed, so it’s a good idea to call the police right away and wait at the scene until they arrive. Try to alter as little as possible at the scene and be ready to give them a statement about the accident.
- Write down any details you remember. While everything’s fresh, make notes on anything you remember about the other driver or vehicle, such as the make and model or the direction they traveled when they left the scene.
- Check the scene. It’s possible that the collision caused something to break off the other person’s vehicle. Look for any pieces on the ground that could help the police identify the hit-and-run driver. It’s a good idea not to touch or move anything; instead, direct the police to anything found.
- Talk to eyewitnesses. If anyone saw the hit-and-run, ask them to stay at the scene and provide details to the police. If they can’t or won’t stay, ask politely for their contact information so law enforcement — and potentially your insurance company — can reach out as needed.
- Take pictures. Snap pictures of any damage to your vehicle or surrounding property. Doing this can provide concrete evidence for your insurance company and the police when the fault of the accident is investigated. Capturing as much detail as possible about the scene of the incident can smooth the claims process later on.
- Contact your insurance provider. Get on the phone with your insurance agent. Ask them what information they’ll need to file your claim.
Will insurance cover a hit-and-run?
Normally, if another driver causes an accident, their property damage liability (PDL) — which Florida law requires for all drivers — will help cover the cost of repairing or replacing your vehicle. But if the other driver isn’t found, there are some other coverage options.
Specifically, these three types of auto insurance coverage can help after a hit-and-run in Florida.
- Personal injury protection (PIP): This is another type of coverage that Florida law requires for all drivers. In Florida, PIP provides $10,000 of medical coverage to help pay for any medical bills incurred during the hit-and-run.
- Uninsured motorist coverage: As its name suggests, this coverage steps in when the at-fault driver doesn’t have insurance to pay for damages they caused. This type of coverage typically also applies to hit-and-runs if the other driver isn’t found. It’s a good idea to check your policy to see if this coverage applies to Florida hit-and-runs.
- Collision coverage: Since collision coverage usually covers your vehicle’s damage regardless of who is at fault, it can be helpful in a hit-and-run. However, keep in mind that if the other driver isn’t found, you will have to pay your deductible to use this insurance to cover repair costs.
Because drivers in the Sunshine State already pay more than the national average cost of car insurance, purchasing additional insurance to cover a hit-and-run may not be the most appealing option. Still, it’s worth checking out different cheap car insurance companies in Florida to make sure you’re financially protected.
Frequently asked questions
How common are hit-and run-accidents in Florida?
The FLHSMV reports that nearly one in four accidents in Florida are hit-and-runs. Florida state law requires that people stay at an accident at least long enough to render reasonable aid to any injured people and exchange information. If you’re ever involved in an accident, don’t leave the scene until you do these two things.
What’s the best car insurance company?
Everyone’s needs are different, and there is no one best car insurance company. It’s a good idea to shop around and compare rates from multiple insurance providers, and speak with a licensed insurance professional before purchasing a policy.
How much should I expect to pay for car insurance?
Car insurance rates vary a lot between insurance providers, and premiums are based on many factors, including age, location, credit history and type of vehicle being insured. While there is data available on the average cost of car insurance to provide a baseline, it’s still a good idea to speak with a licensed insurance professional to find the best rates for your unique needs.
How much insurance do I need?
Nearly every state has specific requirements for how much auto insurance is required, known as the mandatory minimum coverage for that state. These coverage limits are the amount you must maintain to drive in that state legally. Still, there are many reasons to consider expanding your coverage through increased limits or additional types of coverage. You can speak through your insurance needs with an insurance professional to help figure out how much car insurance you need.
Bankrate utilizes Quadrant Information Services to analyze 2021 rates for all ZIP codes and carriers in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. Quoted rates are based on a 40-year-old male and female driver with a clean driving record, good credit and the following full coverage limits:
- $100,000 bodily injury liability per person
- $300,000 bodily injury liability per accident
- $50,000 property damage liability per accident
- $100,000 uninsured motorist bodily injury per person
- $300,000 uninsured motorist bodily injury per accident
- $500 collision deductible
- $500 comprehensive deductible
To determine minimum coverage limits, Bankrate used minimum coverage that meets each state’s requirements. Our base profile drivers own a 2019 Toyota Camry, commute five days a week and drive 12,000 miles annually.
These are sample rates and should only be used for comparative purposes.
Incident: Rates were calculated by evaluating our base profile with the following incidents applied: clean record (base), at-fault accident and a hit-and-run.