After a traffic collision, both drivers typically pull over, discuss what happened and exchange information. However, what happens when one driver fails to stop and flees the scene? Hit-and-run accidents are more common than you might think, which is one of the reasons why most states, including Idaho, require drivers to carry a minimum amount of car insurance.

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Hit-and-runs in Idaho

In Idaho, a hit-and-run accident is defined as a collision where one of the drivers does not stop to exchange insurance information. Although the state does not publish data on the number of hit-and-runs that occur on Idaho roads, hit-and-run accidents are becoming more common in the United States. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that the total miles Americans drove decreased by 11 percent from 2019 to 2020, but fatalities caused by hit-and-run accidents increased by 26 percent.

One important thing to consider is that more than 13 percent of drivers in Idaho are estimated to be driving without car insurance, even though minimum coverage is legally required. With a moderate amount of uninsured drivers, hit-and-runs could be more likely because drivers know they may face penalties for getting caught driving without car insurance.

Idaho hit-and-run laws

Idaho hit-and-run laws state that a driver who causes a hit-and-run accident is fully liable for the other driver’s losses, such as medical bills and vehicle repairs. After any type of accident, whether there is property damage or injuries, the at-fault driver is required to stop, render aid if necessary, provide their personal and insurance information, and remain at the scene until their legal duties have been fulfilled.

Idaho drivers who cause a hit-and-run that results in property damage only will usually be punished with a misdemeanor and may lose their driving privileges for up to one year. If a driver flees the scene of an accident where there are injuries or fatalities, they could be charged with a felony, be assessed a fine of $5,000 or spend a maximum of five years in jail, or both. They will also likely have their license suspended for one year.

How hit-and-runs impact car insurance rates in Idaho

If you are the at-fault driver in a hit-and-run accident, your car insurance premium could be affected in a few different ways. Firstly, your insurance premiums will likely increase due to the accident itself. However, hit-and-run perpetrators likely face more consequences than just rate increases.

If the hit-and-run accident results in a license suspension, you may also be required to purchase SR-22 insurance. While not technically a type of insurance, an SR-22 is a form that you may be required to carry on your policy to provide evidence to the DMV that you are meeting at least the minimum liability insurance requirements in your state. An SR-22 also proves that you are maintaining continuous coverage. Typically, there is a fee associated with an SR-22 filing, which varies from state to state.

It’s also possible that your insurance company will deem you as a high-risk driver if you flee the scene of an accident. If this happens, your insurance company may refuse to renew your policy, forcing you to get insurance through a non-standard provider.

Reporting a hit-and-run accident as the victim will not result in a surcharge on your insurance policy. Still, insurance companies may use not-at-fault accidents to determine your overall premium during the underwriting process. In other words, not-at-fault accidents do not generate an extra surcharge on your policy, but they may influence your general risk and, in turn, increase your overall base rate. It’s also worth noting that whether your premium increases after a not-at-fault accident may depend on the accident’s severity, your not-at-fault accident frequency and your company’s underwriting guidelines.

5 things to do after a hit-and-run in Idaho

Any car accident can be scary, especially a hit-and-run. Knowing what actions to take after a hit-and-run accident could help you remain calm in a stressful situation. After a hit-and-run, you may consider taking the following steps:

  1. Assess the situation: Check for injuries, and if anyone is hurt, call 911.
  2. Move your vehicle: If your vehicle is safely drivable but in the way of traffic, you may want to safely move it to the shoulder or a parking lot closeby.
  3. Call the police: A hit-and-run accident is a crime, so the police should be notified right away. When an officer arrives on scene, they will file a report and ask you to recall any information you can about the vehicle that hit you. The information you provide will help them investigate the incident.
  4. Document any damages: If your vehicle is damaged, take pictures (if you can safely do so) to share with your insurance company. In the event that your car is totaled, make sure to ask where the vehicle will be taken. If you or anyone in your car was injured, keep a record of medical expenses as well.
  5. Tell your insurance company: The last step is to contact your insurance company and let them know what happened, if you want to file a claim on your own policy. An agent can walk you through the claim process and help you understand what your policy will cover. To expedite the process, have important documents, like the police report and damage photos, ready to go.

Will insurance cover a hit-and-run?

Getting into a hit-and-run accident can be stressful, but fortunately, your car insurance policy may help cover the damages, even if the driver responsible is never found.

When you purchase a minimum coverage car insurance policy in Idaho, it automatically includes uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage, unless you reject these coverage options in a written statement. If you did not reject these two coverage types, they could help cover your medical bills and vehicle damage after a hit-and-run. However, because there is likely no way to tell if a fleeing driver is uninsured, these coverage types may not apply.

If you have a full coverage policy, a few other coverage types may come into play. Collision coverage is designed to pay for your vehicle’s repairs after a collision event, regardless of fault, although a deductible usually does apply. Medical payments coverage, which is optional in Idaho, may reimburse you for medical treatment or rehabilitation costs stemming from injuries sustained in the hit-and-run, up to your policy limit.

Frequently asked questions

    • The best car insurance company may be different for every driver. The best company for your needs likely depends on factors like where you live, what type of coverage you need, what you value in an insurance company and your budget. Shopping around and comparing quotes could help you find the best carrier for your needs.
    • In short, it can be. Whether a hit-and-run is a felony in Idaho depends on the severity of the accident. A driver who flees the scene of an accident resulting in injuries or death can be charged with a felony. Additionally, the driver could be issued a fine of up to $5,000 and be sentenced to a maximum of five years in jail. They may also have their license suspended for up to one year.