No driver wants to be involved in a motor vehicle accident but hit-and-runs are especially confusing because it can leave you stuck with an unexpected financial expense. However, one of the reasons car insurance is required in Maine and most other states is to protect drivers in these situations. As the victim of a hit-and-run accident in Maine, you may have to rely on your own insurance policy to cover the damage. On the other hand, causing a hit-and-run accident in Maine will likely raise your auto insurance rates.
Hit-and-runs in Maine
A hit-and-run is defined as an motor vehicle accident in which the at-fault party leaves the scene. In many cases, a driver can be charged with a hit-and-run even if they did not cause the accident because many states have laws in place requiring parties to stop, exchange information and render assistance or call the authorities when someone is injured. According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), more than one hit-and-run occurs every minute in the U.S. Luckily, Maine is one of the states with the fewest number of hit-and-runs per 100,000 people. In fact, between 2006 and 2016, only 21 Maine hit-and-run accidents resulted in a fatality.
Maine hit-and-run laws
Typically, a driver who flees the scene of an accident does so because they want to avoid being held liable. However, it is illegal to leave the scene of an accident in most states if anyone is injured or if there is property damage. According to Maine statute, “the operator of a vehicle involved in an accident that results in damage to an attended vehicle shall immediately stop the vehicle at the scene of the accident or stop as close as possible and immediately return to the scene.”
Police officers are often able to use witness statements, security cameras and other methods to track down hit-and-run drivers, so leaving the scene is never advised. In fact, drivers who cause hit-and-run accidents will get in more trouble due to leaving the scene. Hit-and-runs in Maine are classified as a “Class E” crime which can result in up to six months incarceration and a $1,000 fine. However, more severe hit-and-runs may face additional punishment, including civil penalties if a lawsuit occurs. You can even have your license suspended.
On top of criminal and civil repercussions, your auto insurance rates will also suffer. Maine requires drivers who are cited with serious moving violations to obtain a certificate of financial responsibility, otherwise known as an SR-22. An SR-22 is a legal requirement showing that a risky driver does carry a valid insurance policy with the minimum required liability limits at all times. An SR-22 may be required for 3 years, meaning the at-risk classification will cause a premium increase for the next several renewals.
How hit-and-runs impact car insurance rates in Maine
When a claim is filed on your insurance policy for an accident, your auto insurance premium typically increases to offset the amount of money paid out by your insurance company. However, when you cause a hit-and-run accident, the average cost of full coverage insurance more than doubles and may impact your policy for three or more years. If you are getting any good driving discounts or accident-free/claim-free discounts, they will also likely be removed from your policy.
Additionally, if you are required to obtain an SR-22 due to your hit-and-run, you will be considered a high-risk driver which will again increase your premium rate on top of the increase you face for an accident claim. That means that causing a hit-and-run in Maine could increase your full coverage premium over 20%. Luckily, the average cost of annual insurance in Maine is significantly lower than the national average, so Maine drivers with insurance claims may pay less overall than a driver from a different state.
*The table below shows average annual full coverage premiums before and after an at-fault hit-and-run and accident.
Average annual full coverage premiums:
|Before a hit-and-run||After a hit-and-run||After a standard accident|
4 things to do after a hit-and-run in Maine
Although no one is ever prepared for an auto accident, knowing what to do if you are a victim of a hit-and-run accident will help prepare you for handling the situation properly after it occurs. Ensuring everyone’s safety and remembering as many details as possible should always be your main objective. Here are 4 things to do after a hit-and-run in Maine:
- Evaluate yourself and your passengers for any injuries. If anyone is hurt, call emergency services right away. Even if an injury seems minor, it should be checked out by a medical professional. Paramedics may evaluate you on the scene or suggest a visit to the emergency room.
- Evaluate the scene of the accident. You probably did not know that the other driver was going to speed away but you may have gotten a good look at their license plate, vehicle or even the driver. Try to record this information immediately by discussing it with your passengers or writing it down so you will not forget.
- Call the authorities and report the accident. Once you make sure everyone is okay and determine that the other driver has left the scene, you should immediately call the police to report the accident. At this point, the police will create an accident report and open an investigation in order to locate the other driver.
- Prepare for your insurance claim. Sometimes, information is misreported on the accident report and if the at-fault party is located, you will want to make sure you have the necessary information to give to your claims adjuster and any investigating officers. Although the scene after an accident can be chaotic, try to take photos of the scene, your vehicle’s damage and the surrounding area. If possible, get the names and numbers of witnesses for witness statements. When collecting your evidence, just be sure that you are not disrupting the police investigation.
Will insurance cover a hit-and-run?
Whether or not your insurance policy will cover a hit-and-run depends on whether you caused the hit-and-run or if you were the victim of a hit-and-run. Maine is a “tort state” which means that the driver responsible for the accident will be required to use their insurance policy to cover the associated damages. If you are deemed to be the at-fault driver in a hit-and-run accident, your insurance policy’s liability coverage will likely pay out for any property damage and bodily injury incurred during the accident.
On the other hand, if you are the victim of a hit-and-run, you may have to utilize your own insurance policy if the other driver is never apprehended. Maine requires motorists to carry uninsured motorists coverage, which would pay for damages in the event that the other driver does not have insurance, or in the case of a hit-and-run where the driver cannot be located. However, if the at-fault driver has been located, you may file a claim against their liability insurance. If you have Medical Payments coverage on your policy and need additional coverage for medical expenses, you may also file a MedPay claim, regardless of who is at fault.
Frequently asked questions
How much does car insurance cost?
Although the cost of your personal auto insurance policy will depend on a variety of factors, Maine is one of the least expensive states for car insurance. The average premium of a full coverage policy costs about $965 per year which is significantly less than the national average at $1,674 per year.
What insurance coverage is mandatory in Maine?
A minimum liability coverage amount of $50,000 per person and up to $100,000 per accident for bodily injury is mandatory along with $25,000 for property damage. Maine drivers must also carry the same limits of uninsured and underinsured motorists coverage. Additionally, a minimum of $2,000 in Medical Payments coverage is required.
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 coverages that meet 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, single speeding ticket, single DUI conviction and lapse in coverage.